Q:I just want to say that I really appreciate this blog, and your ( all of you) effort to help others. Thank you
Thank YOU for this kind message, they always make our day <3
Q:I selfharm and my mom took my to a psychologist. I was there twice and I really don't like my psychologist. She made me feel like I shouldn't have depression because I don't have troubles in school. I know I need help but I don't want to go there.
Your therapist sounds like a pile of poo. Seriously, a therapist’s job is to validate your experiences and help you move through them, not make you feel like you “shouldn’t” have what you already know you have.
Just because you don’t have troubles in school does not mean you’re not depressed. People who aren’t in school get depressed, so. That kinda throws that “theory” out the window.
My best advice is for you to see a different therapist. Sometimes, it takes awhile to find the right one. Do some research on the therapists in your area and find one that you think would suit you. If they don’t, that’s fine! Look for a new one. You’d be surprised how many forms of therapy/therapists there are.
I’m sorry you had to go through that. Keep an open mind that not all therapists will make you feel invalidated.
Also, I’m just going to leave this here.
Q:Im having a terrible night and i want to cut but im trying to stop, but im only stopping for others and i dont know if thats enough. i also binged today, ive been starving myself for awhile but decided last night i wanted to get better but it just ended with me binging now and im scared im going to gain a bunch of weight now. ive also been really suicidal for a long time and everytime i think im getting better i just crash and end up worse then before. sorry for having so many problems... thanks
First off, please do not apologize to us for having a lot of problems. We’re here to help with whatever you come to us for, regardless of how many problems you have. It’s okay.
It’s pretty normal to have trouble trying to recover when your only reason is for others—not that it can’t be done, but SI can be a very hard thing to stop, and not having a reason just for yourself can make it harder. My suggestion would be to find something extra to give you a reason not to: maybe you’re tired of lying about it, maybe you don’t want any more scars, maybe you just want to be able to say that you made it, or maybe something else entirely. If it matters to you, it works.
Alternately, alternatives, which have been linked to below. Even if you don’t completely want to stop, having something else that can help you may make it a lot easier. Identify what you want out of it [eg: to calm down, feeling of control, because you need something to focus on, etc.] If you know what you want out of it, you can try to find something else to fill that need for you. Simply tell yourself that you’re going to try 3 [or some other number] of alternatives before you’re allowed to SI. Finding somewhere else to direct that energy can be a lot easier than going on pure willpower alone.
It’s okay that you binged. It’s your body telling you it really needs more food. You might be a bit bloated but try to take a few deep breaths, and try to remind yourself that food is there to help. It’s not there to be your enemy, it’s not there to make you fat. It’s there to keep you alive, and keep you nourished. We’re so glad you’re looking to recover. That’s an amazing decision to make, and we’re proud of you for that.
A good first step is to try and plan out meals ahead of time. Ideally you should be getting at least 1500 calories per day. That can be a scary number, and it seems very large. What you can do is break it down. So if calories are triggering to you I don’t think this would be a good method, but if you think it would help you get on the track of making sure you’re eating more, then you can use calories to meet a larger goal every once in awhile until you build up to the 1500 calories or even further. Keeping track is difficult because it can lead you back to obsessively tracking your food, but not tracking can lead back to not eating or more binging. You’re going to want a balance. One method that can work well too is counting to make sure you eat at specific times during the day. So have your three meals, and then two or three snacks through the day. Let’s say you were eating one meal. Maybe the next day add a snack. Get used to the meal and a snack. Then try to add another meal. And so on and so forth until you build up to what you need to get healthy.
Ultimately the important thing is trying to make food a friend to you and develop a relationship with it that doesn’t give you bad feelings.
Eat what is comfortable to you. We all know that Ding Dongs are delicious (do they even make those anymore??), but if you eat small things or healthy things like baby carrots, celery, fruit salad, yogurt, crackers or cucumber while you feel the need to binge, it will help you feel fuller, but also get you the healthy nutrition you need!
But do make sure that you respond to your body when it’s hungry. For some people, it can help to make a meal/meals in advance to ensure that they’re getting enough without worrying about binging.
Finally, everyone’s favorite part of the answer: links. This is our alternatives page, and this is an ED alternative page I found a while back. A lot of SI and ED behaviors are simply ways of coping with underlying feelings. These lists address the feelings that might be leading you into it, and give you alternatives that may help. If you feel like you’re going to do something, check out the appropriate list and see if something else can help you. At the very least, it may keep you busy for a few extra minutes and give you time to change your mind.
—Luke & Ren
Q:My best friend just told me she's bulimic and I have no idea how to help her or support her. Any advice at all is helpful, thank you so much
I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but there’s not a lot you can do to help her aside from being there for her. Of course you can help her become more body positive, but you can’t make her, you know?
That being said, one of the best things you can do is make sure you understand what you can about bulimia, including the myths and stuff surrounding it. Also, if you know what triggered it, you might be able to help her overcome it (although you definitely need to be careful, because it could make it worse bringing up these memories. A professional would be best for this).
You can also encourage her to get help. Whether it’s talking to a school counselor or (preferably) a therapist with expertise in the field, explaining her feelings might be cathartic for her and help her overcome her eating disorder.
This is a website that has a lot of information about EDs and talking to people about them.
A final note: I know you want to help her, but you can’t go in with the idea that you’re going to fix her, okay? She doesn’t need you to fix her, but she probably needs a friend to help her start to help herself. It’s also not something that’ll work itself out overnight. It’s gonna take work.
My counselor gave me a handout on Grounding and I thought it would be very helpful for some of you. So I’m going to type it out for you guys here.
Detaching From Emotional Pain (Grounding)
What Is Grounding?
Grounding is a set of simple strategies to detach from emotional pain (for example, drug cravings, self-harm impulses, anger, sadness). Distraction works by focusing outward on the external world - rather than inward toward the self. You can also think of it as a “distraction,” “centering,” “a safe place,” “looking outward,” or “healthy detachment.”
Why Do Grounding?
When you are overwhelmed with emotional pain, you need a way to detach so that you can gain control over your feelings and stay safe. As long as you are grounding, you cannot possibly use substances or hurt yourself! Grounding “anchors” you to the present and to reality.
Many people with PTSD and substance abuse struggle with either feeling too much (overwhelming emotions and memories) or too little (numbing and dissociation). In grounding, you attain balance between the two - conscious of reality and able to tolerate it.
-Grounding an be done at any time, any place, anywhere and no one has to know.
-Use grounding when you are: faced with a trigger, having a flashback, dissociating, having a substance craving, or when your emotional pain goes above 6 (on a 0-10 scale). Grounding puts healthy distance between you and these negative feelings.
-Keep your eyes open, scan the room, and turn the light on to stay in touch with the present.
-Rate your mood before and after to test whether it worked. Before grounding, rate your level of emotional pain (0-10, where 10 means “extreme pain”). Then re-rate it afterwards. Has it gone down?
-No talking about negative feelings or journal writing. You want to distract away from negative feelings, not get in touch with them.
-Stay neutral - no judgments of “good” and “bad”. For example, “The walls are blue; I dislike blue because it reminds me of depression.” Simply say “The walls are blue” and move on.
-Focus on the present, not the past or future.
-Note that grounding is not the same as relaxation training. Grounding is much more active, focuses on distraction strategies, and is intended to help extreme negative feelings. It is believed to be more effective for PTSD than relaxing training.
Ways To Ground
-Describe your environment in detail using all your senses. For example, “The walls are white, there are five pink chairs, there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…” Describe objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature. You can do this anywhere. For example, on the subway: “I’m on the subway. I’ll see the river soon. Those are the windows. This is a bench. The metal bar is silver. The subway map has four colors…”
-Play a “categories” game with yourself. Try to think of “types of dogs”, “jazz musicians”, “states that begin with ‘A’”, “cars”, “TV shows”, “writers”, “sports”, “songs”, “European cities.”
-Do an age progression. If you have regressed to a younger age (e.g., 8 years old), you can slowly work your way back up (e.g., “I’m now 9”; “I’m now 10”; “I’m now 11”…) until you are back to your current age.
-Describe an everyday activity in great detail. For example, describe a meal that you cook (e.g., “First I peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters, then I boil the water, I make an herb marinade of oregano, basil, garlic, and olive oil…”)
-Imagine. Use an image: Glide along on skates away from your pain; change the TV channel to get to a better show; think of a wall as a buffer between you and your pain.
-Say a safety statement. "My name is____; I am safe right now. I am in the present, not the past. I am located in ____; the date is ____."
-Read something, saying each word to yourself. Or read each letter backwards so that you focus on the letters and not on the meaning of words.
-Use humor. Think of something funny to jolt yourself out of your mood.
-Count to 10 or say the alphabet, very s..l..o..w..l..y.
-Repeat a favorite saying to yourself over and over (e.g., the Serenity Prayer).
-Run cool or warm water over your hands.
-Grab tightly onto your chair as hard as you can.
-Touch various objects around you: a pen, keys, your clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature. Compare objects you touch: Is one colder? Lighter?
-Dig your heels into the floor - literally “grounding” them! Notice the tension centered in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself that you are connected to the ground.
-Carry a grounding object in your pocket - a small object (a small rock, clay, ring, piece of cloth, or yarn) that you can touch whenever you feel triggered.
-Jump up and down.
-Notice your body: The weight of your body in the chair; wiggling your toes in your socks; the feel of your back against the chair. You are connected to the world.
-Stretch. Extend your fingers, arms or legs as far as you can; roll your head around.
-Walk slowly, noticing each footstep, saying “left”, “right” with each step.
-Eat something, describing the flavors in detail to yourself.
-Focus on your breathing, noticing each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each inhale (for example, a favorite color or a soothing word such as “safe,” or “easy”).
-Say kind statements, as if you were talking to a small child. E.g., “You are a good person going through a hard time. You’ll get through this.”
-Think of favorites. Think of your favorite color, animal, season, food, time of day, TV show.
-Picture people you care about (e.g., your children; and look at photographs of them).
-Remember the words to an inspiring song, quotation, or poem that makes you feel better (e.g., the Serenity Prayer).
-Remember a safe place. Describe a place that you find very soothing (perhaps the beach or mountains, or a favorite room); focus on everything about that place - the sounds , colors, shapes, objects, textures.
-Say a coping statement. “I can handle this”, “This feeling will pass.”
-Plan out a safe treat for yourself, suck as a piece of candy, a nice dinner, or a warm bath.
-Think of things you are looking forward to in the next week, perhaps time with a friend or going to a movie.
What If Grounding Does Not Work?
-Practice as often as possible, even when you don’t “need” it, so that you’ll know it by heart
-Practice fast. Speeding up the pace gets you focused on the outside world quickly.
-Try grounding for a loooooooonnnnngggg time (20-30 minutes). And repeat, repeat, repeat.
-Try to notice whether you do better with “physical” or “mental” grounding.
-Create your own methods of grounding. Any method you make up may be worth much more than those you read here because it is yours.
-Start grounding early in a negative mood cycle. Start when the substance craving just starts or when you have just started having a flashback.
Q:I honestly don't think I want to stop cutting at all, as long as I'm not hurting anyone but me why should I stop?
I know how you’re feeling. Whether the pressure to stop is coming from your peers, the internet, or even yourself, it can seem scary and pointless to just get rid of a coping mechanism that your body has become biologically addicted to. Recovery is something that I do want to encourage you to try, but at your own pace and when you are ready. If you’re not completely ready, that’s fine. Starting recovery when your heart’s not in it can cause a whole other slew of problems that can aggravate self-harm urges and behaviors even more.
Here are a few reasons as to why you shouldn’t self-harm:
- It’s dangerous: there is a risk of infection no matter how severe the wound is; you could hit a vein or artery which can make things more serious than you intended, or, in some cases, cause death; if you damage a muscle or tendon you could permanently damage your motor skills.
- It’s addictive. Self harm releases endorphins in your brain, and you can get addicted to their release. The more you do it, the harder it is to stop.
- It can make you feel worse. After self harm, many people feel guilt, shame, sadness and depression. It can end up making the problem worse instead of better.
- It is a temporary solution that doesn’t help you deal with the problem. If you self harm instead of letting out your emotions in a healthy way, the emotions can bottle up and explode in an inconvenient way.
- You could get caught.
So you see, there are a lot of reasons besides hurting others that you should consider when stopping or not stopping self-harm.
But here’s the thing: hurting yourself still hurts others. When a friend, regardless of whether or not they know you cut yourself, notices that you’ve been more distant or have other changes in your behavior, it can have negative effects on them too. And trust me, a good friend always knows. I recently went through a similar experience with one of my friends, whom I thought had been clean for about a year. I still worry about her every day. And I am positive that someone in your life, whether it’s a family member or friend, worries about you.
Remember, you set the pace and start point of your recovery. When you do feel like self-harming, please try a few of our alternatives first. And here is our page on stopping/reducing self-harm for whenever you’re ready.
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Love from Liv.