Having a relapse

Having a Relapse

You thought you had your self-harming under control, but now you have started hurting yourself again and you are not sure why.

Why am I self-harming again?

Going back to self-harming after not doing it for a while is not anything to be ashamed of – you have not suddenly become weak, you have not lost your will-power, and you have not let yourself – or anyone else – down. There could be a number of reasons why you’re hurting yourself again, and these may be subconscious.

Ask yourself:

  • Has a big event happened to you recently, like a relationship breakdown?
  • Have you lost someone special to you, or has a family member or friend been seriously ill?
  • Have you been injured in an accident or suffering from an illness?
  • Have you been bullied at college, university, or by people at work?
  • Have you felt stressed because of deadlines, too much work, or people asking a lot of you?
  • Have you felt depressed?
  • Have you been drinking a lot of alcohol?
  • Have you been struggling with memories of distressing or traumatic events?

A drop in your self-esteem

Events such as a death, injury or other trauma can trigger a rush of emotions, as can difficult situations you find yourself in. After a big event – like a loss of a friend or family member – you can become overwhelmed with different feelings. These emotions can affect your self-esteem, knocking your confidence and making everyday tasks much harder than they normally would be.

Emotional overload

It can be really difficult to deal with lots of emotions at once and you may feel like your head is going to explode. Self-harming can be one way you deal with this – to relieve the pressure. If there has been a negative event, such as a parent leaving, this can result in your self-esteem dropping without you realising. You might not feel as confident about handling situations, so self-harming becomes a release you return to.

If writing is not your bag, get creative with your thoughts and channel it into a painting, doodles or drawing.

Does self-harm help you cope?

When problems feel unmanageable it can be easy to return to ways of responding to pressure that you have used before – even if they are self-destructive. If this is the case, and returning to self-harming for a while is what helps you deal with the world, then think about how you can go about it as safely as possible.

Getting back on track

Think about the things that helped you stop or control your self-harm before. These strategies have already worked for you and may work again. You may have found particular distraction techniques useful so you could try them again or try different ones. Remember: you are not the only one who has gone back to self-harming after stopping, so do not see this as a step back, see it as a temporary coping mechanism you used to get you through a tough time. Only when you are ready to stop, and when you feel able to cope with what life is throwing at you, can you start getting back on track. Looking after yourself generally is important – eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise can all play a useful part in this.

Don’t bottle it up

If life becomes hard to deal with, do not keep your thoughts and feelings bottled up, keep a journal or diary to dump all your negative thoughts in. Write in it before bed so you are able to sleep, and as soon as you wake up so you are able to face the day. Once you have written out all the bad stuff, be sure to find at least three things to be thankful for too – it’ll help keep things in perspective. If writing is not for you then try other more creative ways of expressing how you feel like drawing, making something or doodling.

Finally, try to talk to someone you can trust a friend, brother, sister, grandparent, parent, teacher, school nurse, social worker or CPN

If you are going to harm yourself:
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol as these can lead you to do more damage than you intended
  • Get your tetanus vaccination up-to-date
  • Try to avoid doing it when in a highly distressed state as you may cause more damage than you intended
  • Learn basic first-aid
  • Self-harm is private, but think about how you can quickly access help if you seriously hurt yourself
  • Avoid using tablets or medicines – there is no such thing as a safe overdose

For first aid advice follow this link: