Handling a Self-Injury, Self-Harm Relapse
Handling a self-harm, self-injury relapse can seem impossible after you've done all the work that goes into recovery. After all, recovering from self-harm is a long and harrowing process, but it is possible to go into full recovery and when you do, it is one of the best feelings you can experience. Struggling so long with the issues, reasons, and various feelings and emotions that lead to self-injurious behavior can leave us downtrodden and ready to give up. Not giving up gives us a sense of purpose and drive. We are trying to accomplish the major goal of overcoming a self-injury addiction. But with all addictions, there is the possibility of relapse. How do you handle a self-harm relapse?
Self-Harm Relapses Can Happen to Anyone
Relapsing from self-injury, self-harm can take a serious emotional toll on us. I self-harmed from the age of 13-17, and went three years without putting a blade to myself. With the help of medication to control bipolar disorder, an excellent support system, and the will to change, I was able to recover.
This is not to say that the urge went away, because it never really does. We become programmed to automatically think we should hurt ourselves in times of extreme stress or emotional instability. It is the power to realize we have better, healthier options that keep us from self-harming again.
Going a certain amount of time, no matter how long or short, without self-harming is great. But what happens when you have a self-harm relapse? There is such a rush of shame that it can drive us to continue self-harming in itself. I remember when I relapsed. Multiple aspects of my life had gotten completely out of control, and the depression I sank into threatened to consume me entirely. I felt just as I had felt when I first started cutting: hopeless, afraid, alone and out of control.
The Self-Injury Relapse Happened. Now What?
What can you do when you have a self-injury relapse? The answer is simple. You just have to start over.
Try to understand why you feel so ashamed. The stigma and myths surrounding self-injury may still be internalized, making you feel worse about yourself. But remember what you did to go into recovery in the first place. Did you have good support systems? Did you work on finding alternatives to self-injury for the times when you were triggered? Were you able to control yourself and calm down in times of extreme stress? One of the best things you can do is remember your first recovery process and do your best to emulate that process.
Take it one day at a time. Set another goal for yourself. Tell yourself, “I will go all day without self-harming.” If you can do that, set another goal to go all week without hurting yourself. Let friends know your situation so they can help. If you're in therapy or seeing a psychiatrist, inform them of your situation and they will be able to help you.
You have to take small steps, and it's important to remember that relapsing isn't the end of the world. If you get too caught up in the shame of relapsing, it can become a cycle where the shame you feel eventually creates more of a reason to self-harm. Remember that you've done it before, so you can recover again. Take baby steps, and they will add up.
Gipson, K. (2015, June 15). Handling a Self-Injury, Self-Harm Relapse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, January 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2015/06/what-do-you-do-when-you-relapse-from-self-harm
Author: Kalie Gipson
Thank you for this helpful post!
Thank you sososo much! I relapsed today and I'm scared as hell and I feel awful that I need to tell my boyfriend because he's already worried but I know that bottling it up is gonna put me in this negative spiral and I just don't wanna risk it.
Again big thank you I feel a lot better already!
i like the feeling of the pain and im so tired of doing this but i love the feeling, its relieving
I found this post extremely helpful. Thank you.