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Giving up self harm was one of the hardest parts of my recovery from my struggle with mental illness. I don't remember the exact moment I chose to stop, it was more of a gradual happening. For years I used self harm as a release from all the pressure of negative thoughts and feelings that built up inside my mind from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. I remember sitting waking in the night and wrestling with thoughts of self harm. I use the word wrestle because the Oxford dictionary defines it as to 'take part in a fight, either as sport or in earnest, that involves grappling with ones opponent and trying to throw or force them to the ground.'
That first night I resisted the urge to self harm was the hardest. It was like I was fighting someone/something harder than I had ever fought before in order to gain back power over my life. But once that first battle was over, they became easier and easier to win. Until 3 days went by, 3 weeks, 3 months... There are ways you can overcome those urges, but you have to make a choice to fight them when they come. I was told that urges usually last 3-5 minutes. Try to focus your mind on other things for 3-5 minutes and if the urge has passed - you did great! You may give in, and that's okay. Really it is! Not everyone can go cold turkey on smoking. In the same way, not everyone can resist urges to self-harm. If you give in to an urge, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Give it another go because they'll be a time where you can do it- you will win.
Things I found helpful to distract me:
* Blowing bubbles- sounds silly but it can calm you down
* Draw- it doesn't need to be a masterpiece just scribble away
* Get some play dough or plasticine and roll it in your hands
* Create a box and fill it with things that make you smile- this may be photographs, it may be a blanket, bubbles, some music, phone numbers of your friends or family- maybe put the numbers of some helplines in there too.
* Sometimes it helps to write down how you're feeling- if someone has made you angry write them a 'no send' letter. These are letter which, like it says on the tin, means you don't send them. Perhaps if you could write a letter to your younger self- tell them how you've learnt to deal with different situations in a positive way.
* Speak to a friend or someone in your family if you can.
The aim of this is to keep something in your hands at all times, preferably something that is not sharp, to keep your hands busy and your mind busy. I'm aware how simple this may make giving up self-harm seem, but truly I understand just how difficult it is. Keep going, keep fighting back until you have the power back. You are stronger than the negative thoughts, than the urges, than the situations you find yourself in. Keep going.