the user-led self-injury organisation.

  • UK
[shortcode here]


We know what it feels like to want to self-injure right now – what do you think?

You could choose to click away, but I hope you’ll stay and see this through with me a while longer.

Holding hands by KaterhaIf you’re reading this then I imagine you might be feeling so overwhelmed and distressed that you think hurting yourself is the only way to make it stop. I don’t know what things are going on in your life to led you to feeling so desperate, but I do know what it feels like when the urge to self-injure is so strong that you can’t think of anything else. So I’m asking you to stay with me a while, as though I’m there with you, and I’ll try to help you through this.

Before you click away, no, I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t self-injure. I’m just asking you to wait with me a short while before making that decision. Just a few minutes and then you’re free to do whatever you need. How are you feeling right now? Are you telling me I don’t understand? You’re right; I’m not in your head and I can only imagine the pain you’re in. But I’ve been somewhere similar. And I’ve relied on hurting myself in order to cope. So we have that in common, don’t we? Even if that’s the *only* thing we have in common, it’s something to build on, yeah?

You’re still with me, and that’s great, because it shows me you’re determined and still fighting this terrible urge. I’m sure you don’t feel strong. You might be crying, you might benumb, you might be full of rage. You might feel that you have nothing left inside. But you *are* strong because you’re still holding on. You’re still reading and you haven’t yet given in to the urge. What would you like to do now? You’re in control and I won’t tell you what to do. You could choose to click away, but I hope you’ll stay and see this through with me a while longer.

Will you be kind to yourself right now, and give yourself a little more time?

How is your breathing? If you put your left hand on your chest, and your right hand just under your rib cage, which hand moves when you breathe? If it’s your left hand, or both, then you aren’t breathing deeply enough. Will you take a few deep breaths with me now? In a second, please close your eyes and then take a deep breath in, then slowly breathe out again. You can repeat it if you wish, it’s up to you. Are you just 1% calmer?Has your heart rate slowed just a tiny bit? You might want to take a few more breaths. If you’re done with the breathing then please read on; I’m still with you.

Wave in water by MattLakeHave you heard about surfing the urge? The urge to self-injure is like any other emotion. It’s a like a wave that builds in strength. But eventually that strength starts to fade, and if you can ride it out, you might just be able to cope without hurting yourself. Or if you do hurt yourself, it may be less severely. You may not have noticed yet, but even by reading thisyou’re taking energy away from that wave. See, you’re doing so well already.

Am I patronising you? Do you think I’m an idiot? That’s OK, I don’t mind. There are a lot of things I don’t know. But one thing I have learnt is that self-injury isn’t the *only* way of coping with distress. You might not be in the right frame of mind to think about alternatives right now. Self-injury isquick isn’t it? It works and it works fast. That’s the hold it has over us. But perhaps we enable it to have that hold because we don’t give ourselves the *time* for anything else.

How much time do you give yourself? I don’t know you, but as you’re in so much distress you must care a great deal about things. I imagine you might give a lot of your time to other people and other things. Will you be kind to yourselfright now, and give yourself a little more time? Will you stay with me a while longer?

You’ve read so much already, and some minutes have gone by. Are you getting tired of me? Maybe a few more deep breaths will help; if only to stop me yacking away for a few seconds.

Imagine if you hadn’t starting reading this? What would you have done in the last few minutes? But you’ve chosen to stay with me instead. What apowerful choice that was. You really have taken control. What’s changed for you now?These minutes haven’t been wasted. Emotions can only stay so incredibly intense for a certain amount of time. Are yours fading a little now, or is that just because you’re bored of me? It’s OK. It doesn’t matter if I’m boring you, so long as you’re calming down a little I’m happy. Are you up for a couple more minutes of reading? You’ve stayed with me this far, it seems a shame to leave now.

Will you try one of them now, even if it’s just to prove a point that it doesn’t work?!

Excellent, you’ve chosen to stay with me. Thank you. You should be proud of yourself; it would have been easier to click away, wouldn’t it? You really are giving yourself the best chance of getting through this.

I’m hoping that by now you’ve calmed down enough to be open to a couple of suggestions. Will you humour me and give them a try? Come on, we’ve come this far together and I’m not going to ask you to do anything that I haven’t tried myself. Here are a few ideas:

  1. doodlingGrab a pen and paper and express how you’re feeling, either with words or pictures or doodles. If you can’t find the words for your pain, try expressing how you’d *like* to feel instead.
  2. Put on some music, something uplifting with a high tempo, and either sing or dance. I know you don’t *feel* like doing this, but the brain really can be influenced by music, so try fooling it into believing that you feel like singing and dancing. If nothing else, it will use up some energy, and take it away from that emotional wave we talked about before.
  3. Clean or tidy something. You could choose a whole room, a tiny cupboard, or just your immediate surrounding area. Or organise your books or CDs. It doesn’t matter *what* you do, it’s just a distraction.
  4. If you feel like speaking, then call a friend for a quick chat. You don’t have to talk about how you’re feeling or keep them very long – just call and ask them how they’re doing, and see where the conversation leads. If you don’t have anyone to call, then try talking to yourself. Tell yourself how you’re feeling, and then think about how you would answer if it were someone else talking to you. I know, it sounds crazy, but often we’re full of great ideas and advice for others, but we neglect ourselves. Sometimes our own advice is really valuable. What advice would you give someone who’s feeling the same as you do right now?
  5. Do something kind and beneficial for your body; you could clean your teeth, paint your nails, take a shower, moisturise your skin or have a wank.

Have you picked one? If you think my list is useless and that none of those things could possibly help you, then could you simply write down *why* it’s a crap list and then write your own, better list? You can always send it to me tomorrow!

Remember, I’m here with you now as someone who has some level of understanding of what you’re going through. I’m not a professional who’s got this stuff out of a text book. I’m a real person with personal experience of self-injury. I’m sharing these things with you because although I know they aren’t going to suddenly make it all go away, I do know they can help to give you the time you need. Will you try one of them now, even if it’s just to prove a point that it doesn’t work?! It’s your decision, so take your time and I hope to see you back here in a bit.

You’ve given yourself this time, and in doing so you’ve taken back some control.

Hello again, I’m glad you came back. So how was it? Do you feel any better? Before you scream ‘no’ at me, have a real think about it. Feeling better doesn’t have to mean you feel OK. It might just mean you feel 5% better than you did before. And that might still be awful, but at least we’re moving in the right direction, yeah? Imagine what another 5% might feel like. And then another.

When triggered, our emotions might go from nothing to extreme distress in a matter of seconds. But getting back down again takes a lot longer. The greatest gift you can give yourself right now is time, and any stupid little task that fills that time for you can help. The tasks don’t have to make any sense. I’ve learnt in my own struggles with self-injury that when you’re completely overwhelmed and about to hurt yourself, it’s not so much what you choose to do to distract that helps, but it’s the *time* you give yourself. The longer you can go without hurting yourself, the more chance you’re giving yourself to avoid self-injury altogether.

question-manSo what now? Well, I’m hoping that the urge to hurt yourself has at least lessened a little. I’m hoping that by staying with me all this time you have been distracted, even if it’s been by thoughts of how much I *haven’t* helped you! But that’s OK, because even if you choose to still hurt yourself, this time we have spent together is still worth it. You’ve given yourself this time, and in doing so you’ve taken back some control.

I don’t want to just up and leave you now, so I’m going to list some links for you. Some of these are links to the things we’ve been thinking about together, and some are further ideas that might help you avoid self-injury right now. I promise you I’ve tried them all, and sometimes they really do work. Would you like to take a look now and see if they can help you further?

(Try opening these links in a new window or a new tab, so you don’t lose your place with me. ‘Right-click‘ on a link to decide how to open it.)

Did you see anything that you think you might try? You’ve come this far, and you don’t have anything to lose by giving something else a go. You’re in control; the choice is yours. Take as much time as you need to explore those pages and to try any of the ideas. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Did anything help you? Don’t worry if not, you’ve done your best and nobody can ask more of you than that. You might be too distressed right now to focus; but hopefully the ideas will be seeded in your head, and you might feel more able to try them another time.

Well I guess I’ve taken enough of your time, and perhaps you need to be alone now to reflect on the things we’ve thought about and decide what you’re going to do. I’m not going to say that I hope you’ll choose not to hurt yourself. I nearly did, but I realise you don’t need that pressure. You’ve done enough for me and for yourself by staying here with me and reading all my blabbering words. Whatever choices you make now, the determination you’ve shown so far gives me confidence that you’ll take care of yourself as best you can.

I’d like to thank you for the time you’ve spent with me. I know it would have been easier to ignore me completely, so I really appreciate the choices you have made in seeing this through. Whatever you choose to do now, please know thatyou aren’t alone. There are people, like me and the other volunteers and members of LifeSIGNS, who understand. So if you’d like some support, then please join our Support Forum and meet us all ‘virtually’ for real.

I hope you can recognise the strength you’ve shown during our time together, and continue to build on that strength once you’ve clicked away. Take care of you now.

Self-injury is a coping mechanism. We rely on self-injury because we can’t cope with the emotional distress in our lives. That distress has *causes*, and if we are to move away from self-injury, then as well as finding healthier coping mechanisms, those causes also need to be addressed. Once you’re feeling in a better frame of mind, please consider how you might find some help for the difficulties in your life, how your choices might be affecting your wellbeing, and what positive changes you can make in your life in order to seek health and happiness on a daily basis.


  • Islam Berkemajuan

    I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for the incredible effort you’ve put into creating and maintaining this website. The information you’ve provided has been life-changing, and I’m truly grateful. The information is presented in a visually appealing and accessible manner, making it a pleasure to navigate and explore. Thank you for sharing your expertise and enriching our knowledge. Sankyu tsym! ID : CMT-20U727TIWEKARGTJ6Z

  • Veera
  • Abigail

    This is the most helpful tool I have found on the internet regarding self harm. I am going to share it with my therapist for others to know about.

    Thank you to whoever wrote it

  • Eb

    I am 1 year self injury free and tonight this distracted me from those thoughts and stopped me when I felt overwhelmed. Thank you so much!!!I I hope you know how important the work you do is and how much we appreciate it

  • Ki

    This article has saved my life many times. Thank you.

  • Matthew

    I cried but I still hear today

  • Kays

    I cried but didn’t hurt myself, Thank you

  • holly

    i do kinda need help

  • Pei

    this was really helpful and reminded me I’m not alone ❤️

  • Kirsty

    Thank you. I have been really struggling today, and I found myself here. And, today I needed this. So thank you.

  • Moo

    Thank you, that’s all that really needs to be said.

  • .

    Thank you I really was close tonight and reading this has helped me at least not give up everything today.

  • madden

    i just wanted to say thank you so much :) you’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, I come back to this page time and time again and tonight this has really helped me. Having a rough night following some bad news today.

  • Sam

    Tonight you’ve saved me. Saved me from doing something I’ve never done but is always on my mind. Thankyou.

  • em

    Thank you, I really needed this.

  • anon

    thank you for this

  • A

    Thank you

  • Katie

    Instead of harming, I cried instead, which was the release I needed to overcome the anger and the sense of injustice at someone hurting me unnecessarily…again. I didn’t realise I needed to. Now, I don’t have another scar to add.
    Thank you.
    I still have things to deal with, but I will, and I know I’ll be able to, when I feel better.

  • Aimee

    Thank you

  • kylie

    this kept me from self harming so many times. thank you.

  • anonymous

    i’m trying to wait it out. i’m really really trying. thank you for this. thank you.

  • Brooke

    This has helped me a lot so thanks x

  • Sh

    Thank you, you have helped.

  • Naomi

    Thank you. It helped me a lot. Never knew about this technique.

  • Serena

    thank you so much. that’s all i have to say

  • Emily

    I read this all the time and have done for years now. Whenever I feel alone and lost I read this. It’s almost like talking to a friend. I have this saved and I must read it at least once a month. This has helped me so many times and saved my life. Thank you to whoever wrote it. It’s truly like being spoken to and listened to. I can’t begin to explain how much this means to me and how often I use it to help.

  • Jojo

    Tonight was the first time in 10 years that I almost started hurting myself again… but I knew I would feel guilty after and I really didn’t want to. This article really helped me and I was able to ride the urge until it passed. Thank you for saving me from myself. <3

  • Matthew

    I have got this page to now load up everytime I load up my web browser as so I can read it everyday I log on.
    Made me laugh, made me cry.
    Thank you.

  • hollie

    just thank you. thank you so much.

  • Tini

    Who ever you are THANK You,Thank You. I’ve felt so alone and like I’m crazy and horrible and so disgusting. Even evil and sick to be hurting myself. Sometimes after I look at what I’ve done and feel so ashamed. Never feeling of being worthy and to ashamed to seek help. You get me. You do seem to really understand those feelings I have. Most importantly I’m not the only one. You helped me and I’m pleased to say I didn’t do it. Thank you so very much for your honesty and coming forward and speaking with so many. Making me feel human for the first time in years. I hope I’m now able too be more open and honest. Really from the bottom of my heart thank you.

  • Sean

    Thank you

  • Em

    I never knew something so simple could help me so much. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.