Ask Sam letter

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To Sam

I’ve relapsed and I don’t know how to tell my significant other or family.

so. i relapsed and i think its bad. i dont want to tell anyone but i know that NOT telling anyone will make me more isolated, i guess my anxiety is just racking me with guilt. im struggling allot at the moment. i have numerous undiagnosed (¿) mental health problems. (BPD, BDD, depression +anxiety). i dont like labels. but i want to know things for certain. i want to be in control. i guess thats why i relapsed. control. i just want help. i need more than a motivational text message. i need more than a hug. i probably need serious mental help but i dont want my parents involved. at all. im just so lost, can you help?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Self-harm is when someone hurts themselves as a way of trying to cope with things that are difficult, like memories of a stressful situation, negative thoughts about themselves or feelings that are painful. There are ways to cope with thinking about self-harm and recovering after a self-harm relapse is possible.

When you’ve managed to stop for a while you might feel upset if you self-harm again but it’s important to remember that you’ve managed to stop before and you can do it again. You might feel guilty or worried about what other people will think but it’s always okay to ask for help when you’re going through a tough time and telling someone you trust can help you to feel less alone. Relapsing doesn’t mean that you failed, and often you’ll learn more about yourself and what lead up to you harming again. You might notice certain situations where you find it harder to stay calm or certain thoughts or memories that can trigger painful feelings.

It’s sometimes hard to know what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad or anxious or when you’re remembering things that happened in the past. It can help to keep a list of things that help you to feel calmer or that will distract you from thinking about self-harm. Try to think about the things that have helped you stop or reduce self-harming in the past – it’s likely that something that’s helped you before can help you again. You can add new ways of coping to the ones you already have as different things work at different times depending on how you’re feeling at the time. The key is to find things that help you to cope and then keep practising them, even when you’re not feeling like harming yourself. Anything that you practise often will get easier to do.

Your list can include some relaxing activities and some more active things you can do. When you’re feeling anxious or agitated you could try taking deep breaths to feel calmer or writing in your journal and when you’re feeling angry or frustrated you might want to go for a run or punch a pillow to release some tension.

If you’re feeling stressed or upset and your usual strategy isn’t working then you can work your way through the list until you find something that helps. Thoughts or urges to harm can be strong at times and it can take time before you start to feel calmer so remind yourself that how you’re feeling right now won’t last forever.

There are lots of reasons that someone starts to self-harm and sometimes it can be a way of trying to cope with a condition that you’re not getting any help for. Struggling with a mental health problem on your own can be hard and it is important that you have the support that you need. If you think that you have a mental health problem you can see your doctor as a diagnosis can only be made by a health professional, who can also help you find treatment and support if you need it.

Remember that you can speak to a Childline counsellor about anything that’s worrying you or you can have the support of other young people on the Childline message boards

Thank you for your letter.

Take care,


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