I am actively making a choice to turn my potentially bad day into a good day. I am saying to myself, “I can put a movie on for my son and be perfectly okay with it because I’ve written bad days into my routine. However, since I have a choice, I am going to push through and do what needs to be done.” I’m taking a breather to come up with an action plan and coping skills to help me manage today. Today I have to say goodbye to my therapist. Plus, work has been quite stressful the past few weeks and I’m finally starting to process it today. Anyway, today my family needs me. Instead of shutting down and choosing self-loathing, I colored my completed tasks to red in order to have a visual of what all I need to complete (and to see how much I’ve completed even through my spiral). I wrote my to-do list at the bottom, but really the only thing that *needs* to get done are the race bibs. I have to write 200 names, ages, and sexes on 200 bibs for tomorrow’s race.
Regarding my chosen coping skills for the day, I have found that if I ground myself with all my senses, it tends to work wonders. Therefore, I bought a pack of Jolly Ranchers to use. Silly putty really grounds me too.
Disclaimer: I am actually quite unorganized, despite posting my schedule for the past two days!! It is very unlike me to follow through with a routine like this. We’ll see how long it lasts, but it seems to be working right now.
Common coping skills offered for self-harm often include a less intrusive form of self-harm, including snapping a rubber band on your wrist; squeezing an ice cube; digging fingernails into your skin; scratching; or taking a freezing cold shower. All of these provide a minor level of pain and the brain still releases the ever-satisfying (and potentially addicting) endorphins. I have also heard of people drawing hash marks in place of using a blade, sometimes using red ink. I have encouraged these as alternatives when people believe they truly need to feel pain. However, I believe all perpetuate the self-harm cycle… just to a lesser degree than a blade (squeezing an ice cube has also been shown to cause nerve damage). It’s one step down, but it’s not where you necessarily want to be.
Some healthy coping skills I might encourage are: drawing a picture of something sweet (like a butterfly) where you would self-harm; write an encouraging quote (a Bible verse?) where you would self-harm; drinking juice or eating a healthy meal (if you have not eaten recently, your hypoglycemia may be perpetuating your cycle); or healthy exercise.
However, I have found art therapy to be the most effective coping skill in managing self-harm. It’s cathartic, it tires your arm if you scribble hard enough, and if you use bright colors it will improve your mood (whereas the dark colors- especially red- may perpetuate the cycle). This drawing is beautiful because it was used as an alternative. And it worked. I encourage you to try it too.