please read the Introduction to Walking this Borderland before this or any other post in this Series. Thank you.
When I feel the compulsion to do something to hurt myself I find it very hard to resist and do something else to cope with the feeling or the desperate need to obey the voices in my head telling me to punish myself.
On the occasions I have a little bit of control, I sometimes say to myself, “Wait 5 minutes. You can do it, but not yet – just wait 5 minutes. ” If I can force myself to wait 5 minutes then when I do harm myself, then sometimes a little of the initial force of feeling has passed and I do it less viciously. I’m hoping eventually I’ll be able to wait longer, little by little, and then eventually sometimes not to self-harm.
I got the idea when I worked with people with eating disorders. One technique that may help people who struggle with purging after eating, is as a first step to delay a few minutes after eating before purging rather than doing it straight away. Then you can try to make the gap longer and longer and in this time, with support of a therapist or carer, try techniques for acknowledging and coping with the awful feelings and thoughts that are contributing to the compulsion to purge.
I’m new to doing this technique to delay self-harming. I think it’s working a little bit.