Self-Harm Flashbacks and the Fear of Falling Back to Self-Injury

February 10, 2015 Jennifer Aline Graham

Flashbacks can cause thoughts of self-harm and you could fall back into self-injury. Read about how to deal with self-harm flashbacks to avoid old behaviors.

When you are filled with intense emotion, your brain tends to think in ways your body is not used to. You start to see your surroundings through a foggy lens and your thoughts are not the clearest to decipher. You may think back to a time when you felt similar emotions and that self-harm flashback could cause you to fall back into self-injury.

I can finally admit to learning something that from all of those years (and money spent) in college: the id, superego and ego are real. For those who don’t know much about psychology, here’s an easier way to understand what that means: we all have an angel and a devil on our shoulders telling our ego right versus wrong.

When we are going through a crisis, part of our brain tells us to do what we know is right, while the other part is pushing us towards self-harm. After time working on coping skills and redirection, we empower the angel (superego) to move us in a healthy direction.

However, we know it isn’t always that simple to move in a healthy direction when there’s a devil (the id) on your other shoulder.

Falling Back to Self-Injury is Easier Than You Think

Flashbacks can cause thoughts of self-harm and cause a falling back into self-injury. Read about how to avoid a fall-back into self-injurious behaviours.

I’ve recently come to realize how easy it is to almost fall back into self-injurious ways. I’ve discussed in previous blogs how I’ve been going through some major difficulties for the past five months. I’ve brought a lot of positives into my life in hopes that they will overpower the negatives: yoga, dance, acupuncture and experimenting with healthy recipes (just to name a few). However, I still find myself in tears with built-up anger all too often.

Recently, I found myself driving and relived a flashback from my self-harm past. The day must have been similar to a day 10 years back and my emotions must have also been in a similar state. The flashback I started reliving was from a time when I had been driving and had been looking at the trees around me, thinking about driving into one.

I hate to admit it, but when this flashback came to me, I started thinking in a similar, unsafe sense.

I am not suicidal and, if anything, I fear death. However, when difficult scenes from your past pop up, it can be very hard not to connect with that scene if your emotions relate. When this flashback occurred, my current emotions were filled with anger, sadness and frustration, which didn’t help the situation. Yet, even with tears rolling down my face and trees passing my window, I was able to stay strong and push forward.

You Are Stronger Than Self-Harm Flashbacks

When you come face-to-face with a flashback you relate to, it can be extremely dangerous. When these situations happen, you may fall back into thoughts of self-injury, which can turn into a relapse or a close call. I know how proud I am that I have been able to stay free of self-harm for six years and if I had pulled the car over or come home to scar my body via self-harm, I would have been furious.

Remember how great it feels when you think about how far you have come with your self-harm whether it is five years, five months or a day. Every single self-harm-free minute is important and should be seen as a battle won. Do not fall back into unsafe territory just because of flashbacks and because your mind is playing tricks on you. Stay with your superego (or that angel on your shoulder) because you will succeed if you do.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2015, February 10). Self-Harm Flashbacks and the Fear of Falling Back to Self-Injury, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 10 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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