Sadly, as we hear from members of The Depression Project's 3,000,000+ person social media community every single day, it's very common for people fighting depression to engage in self-harm. And, if you can relate, in this blog post, we'd like to share with you:
- 50+ quotes from members of The Depression Project's community about different aspects of self-harm - in order to help you feel understood and that you are not alone;
- 40 alternatives to self-harm;
- What to do if you relapse and self-harm.
Trigger Warning - please read before we begin!
This blog post talks in-depth about self-harm - which for some people, can be triggering. If you feel the urge to harm yourself - whether now, while you're reading this blog post, or at any time in the future - then we really encourage you to contact your local crisis support service. For a list of crisis support services that you may be able to contact in your area, please click here.
50+ Quotes About Self-Harm
As we often hear from members of The Depression Project's community, it's common for people who self-harm to feel alone and misunderstood. And, if you can relate, then we'd like to start this blog post by sharing a variety of quotes from members of our community about self-harm with you - in order to help you see that there are other people out there who are going through the same things as you are.
In particular, we'd like to share with you:
- Quotes about the reasons why people self-harm;
- Quotes about the feelings of shame that can stem from self-harming;
- Quotes about the feelings of loneliness that can stem from self-harming;
- Quotes about the reasons why it can be so difficult to stop self-harming and why relapsing is so common.
Like we said, we hope that these quotes help you to feel understood and show you that you are not alone.
Quotes About The Reasons Why People Self-Harm
- "Self-harm is a distraction from my emotional pain (i.e. my depression and PTSD)."
- "It's a way of making me feel in control when everything else in my life is just so chaotic."
- "Self-harm is my way of releasing all the anger and hatred I have towards myself."
- "Sometimes I feel so numb that I just need to feel something ... anything."
- "I feel like I deserve to be punished after I do something stupid, or just in general for being in the position I'm in. That's when I get triggered and self-harm."
- "I don't know any alternative way to express my feelings and the pain I'm holding onto apart from cutting."
- "Self-harm gives me something to focus on when my intrusive thoughts are at their loudest."
- "Sometimes, I feel like I'm holding onto so much I'm going to explode, and self-harm gives me that release."
- "It makes my internal pain manifest externally. There's something about this that I feel I need during the dark moments."
- "It reconnects me with my body when I feel lifeless."
- "I turn to self-harm when I feel guilty for something I've done or when I'm ashamed of myself."
- "I self-harm when I feel disconnected from reality and the world around me, because it helps to bring me back."
- "I find that the physical pain of cutting is more manageable to focus on than the emotional pain of my depression."
Quotes About The Feelings Of Shame That Can Stem From Self-Harming
- "I feel ashamed because I feel like I'm not strong enough to handle my emotions, which is why I turn to cutting to manage them."
- "I feel ashamed because I know self-harm isn't the answer and that it's sabotaging me long-term, but I just can't seem to stop. I'm always relapsing."
- "I feel like such a failure every time I self-harm. It's like a symbol of how much I'm struggling."
- "I hate the scars I have and feel so ashamed of them. They're something I hide from the world and it makes me scared of intimacy."
- "I'm ashamed because I know I'm damaging my body and I know I shouldn't."
- "Each time I self-harm, I feel like I'm sabotaging my future, like it's taking me away from my path. I hate myself for this."
- "My parents don't know that I self-harm, but I still feel ashamed knowing how they'd react if they did know. I feel like I'm such a disappointment and that I'm failing them."
- "Every time I look at my scars, I'm reminded of the battles I've lost to depression."
- "I feel defined by my self-harm. I just feel consumed by it and I can't see anything good in me while I'm trapped in this cycle."
- "I know it's such a destructive behaviour, but I still feel like a slave to it."
- "I feel like I'm betraying my 'future self' every time I self-harm. I know they'd be so disappointed in me for relapsing."
- "I feel ashamed because I just can't help but give into self-harm. The urges are bigger than I am."
- "I know healthier, alternative ways to cope with my depression, but I just can't seem to make them a habit. As a result, I'm making my depression worse, and knowing this makes me feel so guilty and bad about myself."
- "I feel ashamed because I'm hiding something so big from the people I love. We're so close, and I know they'd want to know, but I just can't bring myself to tell them. I feel like an imposter."
Quotes About The Feelings Of Loneliness That Can Stem From Self-Harming
- "I'm hiding something that has such a hold on me from everyone, which makes me feel like no-one understands me."
- "I feel like I'm living a double life. There's the me which others see, but then there's this other side of me that is suffering so much to the point that I cut."
- "I feel so alone, because I can't possibly share my self-harm with others. I'm so scared they'd judge me and leave."
- "I get really lonely because I feel like I can't be open about my pain with anyone. They wouldn't understand, so what's the point of trying?"
- "I've built walls up because I feel like I have to protect others from what I'm going through. It keeps them safe, but it also makes me feel so alone."
- "I hate holding onto secrets and hiding things from others - especially such a big one like this."
- "I've opened up before and been told I was just 'looking for attention'. So, now I just keep it to myself."
- "Everyone else appears to be fine, but I'm far from it."
- "I feel lonely even when I'm around other people, because no-one knows what I'm going through."
- "I'm terrified of people finding out and rejecting me, so I'm vigilant about hiding any sign that I'm self-harming or that I'm struggling as much as I am. As a result, I'm aways nervous and on edge around people."
- "I've talked about it with a few close friends before, but they just kept telling me to 'stop self-harming'. If only they understood just how hard that is."
- "My self-harm scars are just another sign that I'm different from other people. Will anyone ever accept ALL of me - including my scars?"
- "I feel so alone in my depression. It's like I'm so far gone that no-one will be able to meet me where I'm at."
Quotes About The Reasons Why It Can Be So Difficult To Stop Self-Harming And Why Relapsing Is So Common
- "I want to stop self-harming, but I don't know any alternative ways of getting through my worst depressive episodes."
- "I know it's an unhealthy coping strategy, but it's so hard to break the cycle. It's where my mind goes when everything is spiralling out of control."
- "I feel like I'm not worthy of stopping. I feel like I deserve it and I only have myself to blame for where I'm at. My psychologist tells me that this thought is 100% untrue - that it's just my depression lying to me and trying to trick me. But, on my worst days, it's how I truly feel."
- "It's like I'm caught in a cycle of self-hatred. I self-harm because I feel I deserve it, but then I hate myself even more for self-harming and giving into the temptation."
- "Cutting has become familiar to me. I've been doing it for so long that it feels habitual when I'm triggered."
- "I've tried to stop, but the urges get so overwhelming and to a point where I can't take it anymore. That's when I cave in and relapse."
- "I've tried to find other, alternative coping strategies, but so far I haven't been able to."
- "I self-harm when I feel numb and drained of energy. I have no will power to not self-harm when I'm operating on empty."
- "I'm scared to stop because I can't deal with another failure. What if I relapse again? It'll make me feel even worse about myself."
- "I feel like I need other people's support to help me get through the moments when I feel the urge to self-harm. But no-one knows I self-harm. I'm all alone."
- "Just the thought of stopping scares me. It's the only thing I can think to do when I'm at my most depressed. I don't know how I'd survive without it."
40 Alternatives To Self-Harm
Like some of the above quotes touch upon, there are a number of negative consequences that can stem from self-harming, including:
- Feeling guilty and ashamed;
- Feeling lonely and isolated;
- Diminished self-esteem and self-worth;
- Permanent scarring;
- Increased risk of accidental death;
- Worsening symptoms of depression.
And, for this reason, a little while ago on social media, we asked our 1,000,000+ person Facebook community:
What are some alternatives to self-harm that you find effective?
On that note, below, we'd like to share 40 of the most common responses with you. We think it's important to provide you with a wide variety of alternative self-harm behaviours like so, because as you'll see, some of these alternatives to self-harm have different objectives - for example:
- To help distract you;
- To help you release painful emotions;
- To help you break out of numbness.
For this reason among others, not all of these alternatives to self-harm are likely to resonate with you. However, hopefully you'll find at least a handful of them helpful.
40 Alternatives To Self-Harm
- Tear apart a newspaper, photo or magazine.
- Go for a walk or a run.
- Allow yourself to cry without shaming yourself for it. Let it out freely.
- Distract yourself with Youtube videos.
- Write down words that empower you and sticky-tape them to your body.
- Re-organise your room.
- Repeat a positive affirmation to yourself (e.g. "I deserve love, not pain").
- Reach out to a friend to talk through your emotions.
- Practice aromatherapy.
- Call a crisis line.
- Plan your dream holiday.
- Hug and squeeze your pillow tightly.
- Have a cold shower.
- Write out the lyrics to your favourite song.
- Dance around your room to release excess energy.
- Browse Amazon and make a wishlist.
- Doodle over your notebook.
- Buy a cuddle toy.
- Write your negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then tear it up.
- Set a stopwatch and delay harming yourself for one minute ... and then another ... and then another ... and then another ... etcetera, etcetera. After each minute, congratulate yourself on your strength and your self-control.
- Eat chewing gum and focus all of your attention on it.
- Practice a mindfulness exercise.
- Break sticks in your backyard.
- Re-watch your favourite TV show.
- Scream into a pillow.
- Journal your thoughts.
- Count the tiles on your floor.
- Squeeze a stress ball.
- Put on a fake tattoo.
- Study the night sky and see how many stars you can count.
- Blow up balloons and pop them.
- Scribble with crayons over a blank page.
- Use a pen / marker to draw on yourself.
- Knit a scarf.
- Play music and sing along to the lyrics of your favourite songs.
- Pop bubble wrap.
- Treat yourself to your favourite meal.
- Count to 100.
- Paint your nails a new colour.
- Pick flowers.
TIP: Try To Replace Self-Harm With An Alternative Behaviour That Can Fulfil A Similar "Objective" To The One You're Looking For
Remember before sharing this list of alternatives to self-harm with you, when we said that some of these alternatives have different objectives? Well, in order for these alternatives to self-harm to be as effective as possible, you'll likely find it helpful if you replace self-harm with an alternative behaviour that can fulfil a similar objective to the one you're looking for.
Reason Why You Feel The Urge To Self-Harm: Because you're in excruciating mental pain.
The "Objective" You're Looking To Achieve: Distraction from this pain.
Healthy Alternatives To Self-Harm That Can Help You Achieve This "Objective":
- Watching Youtube videos;
- Planning your dream holiday;
- Browsing Amazon and making a wishlist;
- Doodling over your notebook;
- Re-watching your favourite television show.
Reason Why You Feel The Urge To Self-Harm: Because your emotions have been building for so long and you're desperate to release them.
The "Objective" You're Looking To Achieve: A release from these pent-up emotions.
Healthy Alternatives To Self-Harm That Can Help You Achieve This "Objective":
- Going for a walk or a run;
- Screaming into a pillow;
- Writing your negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then tearing it up
Reason Why You Feel The Urge To Self-Harm: Because you're feeling extremely numb.
The "Objective" You're Looking To Achieve: A "break" from your numbness, to feel something, to remind yourself that you're still alive.
Healthy Alternatives To Self-Harm That Can Help You Achieve This "Objective": Doing something to engage your senses that isn't inflicting pain - such as:
- Having a cold shower;
- Eating spicy food;
- Smelling your favourite perfume;
- Going in a steaming hot sauna.
These are all much healthier ways of breaking out of numbness, "feeling something", and reminding yourself that you're still alive.
What To Do If You Relapse And Self-Harm
Now that you know a variety of alternatives to self-harming, you're hopefully less likely to experience a relapse on your journey to breaking out of a pattern of self-harming. However, even armed with these self-harm alternatives, it's still likely that you'll relapse on one or more occasions - for example, because:
- You get triggered in a way that's extremely overwhelming;
- You're still learning how to practice and implement alternative behaviours to self-harm.
However, if you do relapse and self-harm, then it's really, REALLY important that you don't beat yourself up for it!
Instead, we'd now like to share with you a few helpful suggestions for what you can do instead - each of which are taken directly from our Self-Sabotaging Habits Bootcamp.
What To Do If You Relapse And Self-Harm Suggestion #1: Be Self-Compassionate, And Offer Yourself Forgiveness
When it comes to breaking out of a pattern of self-harming, never relapsing is not the sole definition of success, and relapsing does not mean that you've failed.
Because when it comes to breaking out of a self-sabotaging habit such as self-harming, while your ultimate goal is to of course stop engaging in this self-sabotaging habit altogether, positive progress should be thought of as decreasing your dependency on this self-sabotaging habit over time.
After all, like the quotes that we shared with you at the start of this blog post showed, breaking out of a pattern of self-harming can be very challenging, and it can take time. Consequently, a person's “recovery”, so to speak, may not be linear - in the sense that it's common for people to relapse a few times (or many times) on the way to doing so. And, for this reason, rather than viewing instantly snapping out of this self-sabotaging habit as a success and anything less than this as a failure, we really encourage you to instead view decreasing your dependency on this self-sabotaging habit as the success that it is - and remind yourself that this can still be achieved even though you've relapsed.
Consequently, if you do go through a relapse, then please don't beat yourself up and call yourself a "failure". Instead, we really encourage you to be self-compassionate, and to forgive yourself, and to realise that it's just a part of your healing journey.
What To Do If You Relapse And Self-Harm Suggestion #2: Try To Limit The Damage That Engaging In Self-Harm Will Cause You
Secondly, if you do relapse and self-harm, then rather than beating yourself up for it like we said, we encourage you to instead direct that energy towards trying to reduce the damage that self-harming will cause you.
Now, in terms of how to actually do this, we have a few simple yet effective suggestions for you.
A) Try To Delay Engaging In Self-Harming
Delaying your engagement in self-harming is the first strategy we want to share with you to help limit the damage that it will ultimately cause you - even though it might seem pointless.
After all, you might be thinking, if I'm going to resort to self-harming anyway, then what difference will it make if I put off doing so for a while? Not only that, but wouldn't it actually be better if I turned to it straight away, so that I can at least get the immediate relief I'm after?
We understand if this is how you feel, however, we still really encourage you to delay engaging in self-harming for as long as possible - because the longer you're able to delay engaging in self-harming:
- The more control you're gaining over your self-harm urges;
- The more will power you are building;
- The more you're getting used to tolerating discomfort.
And, these benefits are extremely valuable, because:
- The more you're able to gain control over your urges, build up your will power and learn how to tolerate discomfort, then the easier it will become for you to break out of your pattern of self-harming.
- Additionally, not only can delaying engaging in self-harm help you break out of this pattern in the long-run, but it can also mitigate the damage that engaging in self-harm will cause in the short-run as well. This is because delaying engagement in self-harm is a form of positive progress (when you compare it to instantly engaging in self-harm), and consequently, the resulting negative thoughts, shame, etcetera, which can arise from engaging in self-harm may not be as strong.
Now, in terms of how to actually delay engaging in self-harm, a couple of methods you could try include:
- Telling yourself that rather than engaging in this self-sabotaging habit right now, you will do so in, say, 15 minutes' time - and then setting a timer for 15 minutes to make sure you wait that long. NOTE: If you really wanted to challenge yourself, once the timer runs out, you could then set yourself the same challenge again.
- Secondly, you could do something "healthy" before engaging in self-harm. This could include, for example, one of the 40 healthy alternatives to self-harm that we mentioned beforehand.
B) Try To Replace Self-Harming With A "Less Unhealthy" Alternative Behaviour
This is another technique you could utilise to mitigate the damage of self-harm. Now, while replacing self-harm with a "less unhealthy" alternative behaviour isn't as beneficial as replacing it with one of the 40 "healthy" alternative behaviours that we've already mentioned, doing so is still a positive step in the right direction, since it won't lead to as many negative impacts as engaging in self-harming would. For example, rather than cutting, you could instead:
- Rub an ice cube back and forth over the skin that you would otherwise cut;
- Snap a rubber band against it;
- Scratch it instead.
C) Try To Reduce The Amount You Self-Harm
Lastly, if you're able to reduce the amount that you self-harm, then it's also a positive step in the right direction.
Summary & Final Reminders When It Comes To Self-Harm, It's Alternatives & Relapsing
In this blog post, we've covered quite a lot of ground on the topic of self-harming, in particular:
- We've looked at a wide variety of self-harm quotes - including quotes about the reasons why people self-harm, quotes about the feelings of shame that can stem from self-harming, quotes about the feelings of loneliness that can stem from self-harming, and quotes about the reasons why it can be so difficult to stop self-harming and why relapsing is so common.
- We've shared 40 alternatives to self-harm with you, and explained how in order for these self-harm alternatives to be as effective as possible, it can help to replace self-harm with an alternative behaviour that can fulfil a similar "objective" to the one you're looking for.
- And, last but not least, we've talked about what to do if you relapse and self-harm - including about the importance of being self-compassionate, offering yourself forgiveness, and doing your best to try to limit the damage that engaging in self-harm will cause you.
From the bottom of our hearts, we really hope you've found this blog post helpful, and we wish you the very, very best on your healing journey ❤️
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.
P.S. If you found this blog post helpful, then we also think you'll find our Self-Sabotaging Habits Bootcamp helpful as well, in which we'll cover, among other things, the exact steps you need to follow in order to break out of a pattern of self-harm (and other self-sabotaging habits like binge eating, overspending on "retail therapy" and substance abuse, for example).
Access to this Bootcamp and lots of others are included as part of our Depression Bootcamps Membership Platform - which you can learn more about by clicking the button below.