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What It's Like to Battle the Urge to Self-Harm

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Article updated July 15, 2019.

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

Please be warned that this piece is a raw and accurate account of what goes through my mind when I want to self-harm, and may be confronting for others who can relate.

For a while, I have been able to subside my craving to harm myself, but it is never easy. My cravings are just as strong as they used to be. I have just learned how to fight them, not always successfully, but for now, it gets me by.

I can feel my cravings start. It happens when I disappear into my mind and I find myself staring at my wrists or my legs, staring at my fading scars, remembering how much they were “deserved” and how satisfying it was.

It’s a burning sensation when you feel all of the blood in your veins heat up, and you feel like you need to release the pressure from underneath your skin. When the depressive thoughts slip into your mind, turning your world black, you need the distraction. So you focus on the feeling of what it would feel like. You can’t let yourself slip back into your darkness. So you find anything else you can focus your attention on. Anything other than the way you feel, the way you feel the need to be punished for all of the things you have done over your lifetime, for selfishly stealing the air you breathe.

Every vein in your body is screaming to be released. It’s itching for the pain your wrists once felt. They need it. You need it. Scratching and slapping just won’t satisfy. You end up hitting your temple with the ball of your pain, pleading for the burn to leave, for the light to come back in. You plead with the universe for someone to call or to just know. Though in this moment you know if anybody called, you would decline, knowing you don’t deserve to be able to complain.

You completely lose your mind and your logic. You need to see a visual of the pain you feel inside, to feel something that is real to the outside world. At this stage, your head feels about ready to implode from pressure. You want to break glasses, stab your entire body and throw yourself against walls because you have no way to release this feeling. You are screaming and pelting yourself against a windowless, doorless steel cell, but you sit there, silent and numb. No one can see the astounding amount of energy being consumed just to keep this destruction inside.

Self-harm is not glamorous. It is not pretty, and it is not cool. It is a swirling pit of pain. Whether you are doing it currently or you are in recovery, it is a long road and it is always painful. It can be an excruciating topic to talk about, especially to others who can’t understand the need to purposely hurt yourself. We need to have the confidence to speak out about our self-harming experiences, to help ourselves put meaning to it and to help others understand it goes so much deeper than trying to seek their attention.

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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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 4, 2017
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