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i think i’m addicted to self harm

hi sam,

i’ve been feeling very low for a couple of years now and it seems to be on and off all the time. recently it has gotten so much worse than before and i’ve resorted to self harm a couple of times, i feel as if i have to punish my self for feeling horrible all the time because it’s my own fault for feeling this way - well that’s how i feel anyways - i also feel as if i’ve become slightly addicted to it as it gives me a sense of relief as i get rid of anger and all of my emotions for a little while. i’ve tried so many ways of stopping feeling like this but honestly i feel like self harming is the only way i can relieve my pain and not have to think about my feelings and my emotions for a little while.

is there any way that i can stop feeling like this because honestly i feel like i might have this sadness and anger inside of me all the time?

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there,

I get lots of letters from people who harm themselves and the reasons are both unique for everyone but also very similar. Often it's to do with how people feel about themselves, trying to cope with difficult emotions or memories or sometimes because they’re addicted to the feeling. It can also be all of these things at the same time. What’s also true though is, when you’re ready to there’s ways to stop self-harming.

Emotions are very complicated - we can feel a certain way because of so many different reasons. Those feelings can then trigger other emotions and it's easy to get caught in a spiral. You can't help the way you feel - emotions are not something you choose. It's not your fault if you feel sad, depressed, lonely - or negative about yourself. Those are not choices, so you don't have to feel like it's your fault.

There are lots of different things that can make it easier or harder to stop self-harming. For example, it's important that you feel ready to stop. Sometimes self-harm is your way of coping with another thing going on in your life and it might difficult to stop until you get help for the other problem. Trying to stop too soon can lead to people failing and feeling worse about themselves - which then makes them want to harm more. It's good to stop something that’s harming you, but there’s often more to it than "just stopping".

If you’re in a place where you’re ready to stop then a good starting point is to find things to do that replace self-harm. If you stop without filling the space where you used to harm yourself, it's harder to resist going back to it. A great way to do this is to find new things to do with your time and to do them when you’re feeling okay. If you only go to these things when you’re feeling low, you’re more likely to go back to self-harm because it's what you’re used to doing. Getting into the habit of doing the other things makes it easier to pick those activities up when you feel like harming - or may even avoid you feeling the need to harm yourself altogether.

I hope this has helped, thanks for sharing this with me. If you need to talk more Childline counsellors are always there for you. Take care.

Sam

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