Making that Choice

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. 

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, it became easier and easier to win. 

There are ways you can overcome self-harm 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! If you give in to an urge, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Give it another go because there will be a time where you can do it and you will win.

Here is a list of things I found helpful to distract me:

- Blow some bubbles. This may sound silly, but it can help to calm you down.


- Do some drawing. 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 and phone numbers of your friends or family. You could even 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, why not write them a 'no send' letter. These are letters which, like it says on the tin, means you don't send them. Perhaps you could even write a letter to your younger self and 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.


- And remember... you are stronger than the negative thoughts, the urges, and the situations you find yourself in. Keep going.


Alumina is a free, online 7 week course for young people struggling with self-harm. Each course has up to 8 young people, all accessing the sessions from their own phones, tablets or laptops across the UK. The courses take place on different evenings of the week and are run by friendly, trained counsellors and volunteer youth workers. You don’t need an adult to refer you or sign you up, and no-one will see or hear you during the sessions – you’ll just join in via the chatbox. We want to help you to find your next steps towards recovery, wherever you are on your journey.

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