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The Product I'm Not Ashamed to Have in My Mental Health Self-Soothing Kit

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As a kid, I had a twirling ballerina figurine music box. Before going to bed, I would crank the handle three times in the hopes that the melody would help me drift off to sleep.

Once, my therapist and I talked about having a proper, regular bedtime routine and covered the importance of having healthy coping mechanisms, such as self-soothing skills.

“Think of your five senses,” she said, then made an analogy of a baby crying. “How would you go about soothing a screaming child?” she asked, and at the time, I had no idea what to answer.

Yesterday though, I walked into the nearest retail store by my house, found myself in the middle of the baby aisle, and bought a sleep sound machine on a total whim.

I have to admit that I judged myself harshly for standing in that aisle, surrounded by diapers and pacifiers.

I thought to myself:

“You shouldn’t be buying this. This product is for babies.”

“You’re 20 years old and need a sleep machine? Please, give me a break.”

“Your friends and family are so going to make fun of your purchase. Don’t buy it.”

At that point, I told the voice inside my head to shut up, grabbed a sound machine on clearance from the top shelf and made my way to the cash registers.

Written in bold and capital letters on the package, it read: “Tommy the Turtle Storytelling Soother.”

When I got home later and tried the product for the first time, all my earlier feelings of shame instantly disappeared. As I discovered the different functions and pressed random buttons, I knew that I wouldn’t regret my purchase.

Sure, the device was meant to help babies fall asleep and I was a grown up — so what? It was the perfect size, slick and modern looking and shaped like a turtle (honestly, this was by far my favorite feature). On top of that, the most adorable part was discovering that the turtle’s belly had the option of casting a gentle orange glow, therefore acting as a soft, built-in night light.

I was delighted to learn that my new gadget could produce a vast array of soothing sounds, including white noise, trickling rain drops and ocean waves.

I had a hard time containing my excitement when I listened to the preloaded lullabies, which included everything from “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to “Minuet in G” by Bach and “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven.

Then, I figured out that the device also contained preloaded stories and classic fairytales, such as “Little Red Riding Hood.” My parents had read to me every night as a kid, so I was thrilled to discover that I now had the opportunity to engage with the stories I had once loved a child.

The sound machine also came with an app that allowed its users to sync extra songs and record their own stories. I assumed this option was meant for parents, so their baby could be lulled to sleep hearing the sound of their voice.

In any case, I’ve been using my Tommy the Turtle for a few days now and I already love it. I find it has so many benefits. Not only does it help me fall asleep, but it is also a great tool in my self-soothing kit. Having calm music or sound in the background while studying is also beneficial to me.

When I lie in bed at night and start to have intrusive thoughts about self-harm, having calm music to focus on is quite helpful and a great distraction. Most importantly, using this baby sound soother makes me feel safe, secure and in a way, brings me back to my childhood. It reminds me of my younger self, the little girl who would twist the silver winding key three times and watch the ballerina figure spin around, until her eyes closed and she drifted off to dreamland.

I also want to say that you don’t need to go out and buy a sleep sound machine to benefit from calming sounds. There are a ton of videos on Youtube, tracks on iTunes, etc. that provide free or cheap melodies, calming sounds or white noise. Best of luck with your search!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via Tan Jnr

Originally published: October 31, 2017
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