Tough Stuff

Sometimes I want to hurt myself

When I do something wrong or stupid, I get really angry at myself and get this incredible urge to hurt myself. I'm not a cutter, but I scratch, bite and pinch myself instead. I don't understand why I feel this way. Is this normal? And how can I control this compulsion to hurt myself?

Despite what you may think, self harm is not limited to cutting. The actions you describe, while seemingly less harmful, still signal a very serious problem.  These feelings that you have building up inside of you may feel like a volcano, that you won’t have relief from the pressure until the ground opens up to expose what bubbles beneath the surface. The truth is that self-harm is a temporary ‘solution’ to larger issues. Lots of girls deal with this, so just know that you are not on your own.
Tell someone
Even if the marks left behind may fade away before anyone notices, the real healing can only begin when you confide in someone you trust about what you are going through. When I was a young teen, I had a similar experience. For years, I would scratch myself when I didn’t live up to my expectations for myself and I really didn’t think I had a problem. I wasn’t cutting myself, but I finally admitted that I had a real problem. An important thing to emphasize when you tell your parents, guidance counselor, or other trusted person, is that you are not suicidal, but you have these urges regardless. It may be difficult to deal with the reaction, but in the long run this first step is profoundly important. You need to let this out!
Identify the source
Where are these compulsions coming from? You say that you don’t know why you feel this way, but think about what is going on in your life. Is anything stressing you out? You might be able to solve this by confronting problems in your life. These feelings could also be an indication of depression, anxiety, or a bunch of other things. You need to talk this out with a parent or even a mental health counselor (Don’t be afraid of the stigma attached. A lot of girls go to therapists!).
Find your way to cope
Mental health professionals recommend all sorts of ways to control the urge to self-harm. Some of the most often passed on are exercise, meditation, listening to music, talking about your feelings, and writing. Everyone is different when it comes to figuring out what works for them.  Some best ways to learn how to cope are to try different methods or find a professional to chat with regularly. He or she will help you learn what triggers these urges and what can ease the impulses.
Know this isn’t forever
I can confidently say, as former self-harmer, that I no longer feel the need to cope with stress or sadness by hurting myself. I sought out help and eventually I figured out how to deal. Think about it, what is causing you distress? Someone once told me to consider ‘Will this matter a year or two from now?’  Find what works for you and don’t give up hope. It may be hard to stop hurting yourself, but you absolutely can conquer this! You are way more powerful that you think. If you feel the need to harm yourself in any way find a way to get away from it. Call a friend, surround yourself with people -- do anything that make you feel less alone!

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by Mary Hojnoski | 2/1/2016