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Self Harm If you or someone you know is struggling with self harm and needs advice or alternatives, we're here to help.

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Faye. Offline
maybe this time...
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Smoke or Self Harm? - April 10th 2012, 11:18 PM

I havenít self harmed that much in the past 10 months, Iíve tried my best to stop. I havenít been completely successful but I have only had a few episodes, the last one being about 3 months ago. Iím pretty happy about this and really proud of myself! I used to cut myself 3 or 4 times a day and now itís once every 3 or 4 months!

However Iíve encountered a problem :/ At the end of December I took up smoking more seriously and mainly as a way to cope with not self harming. At first it was less than a cigarette a week. But it wasnít until my friend drew attention to it that I noticed I now smoke more like 3 cigarettes a week. Now 3 cigarettes a week isnít that much but itís enough to make me realise that smoking is pretty important to me now. I am incredibly emotionally dependent on smoking. I carry cigarettes with me everywhere Ė like I used to do with blades. When Iíve had a bad day theyíre the first thing I reach for. I'm scared of running out. Essentially Iíve replaced an addiction to self harm with a more socially acceptable addiction to cigarettes.

I promised myself when I started smoking that I wouldnít let myself get addicted. But canít see how I can stop smoking and not go back to self harm. Itís either smoke or cut myself. I know neither are healthy ways of coping but surely self harm is actually better for me. It doesnít carry such great risks of long term health problems.

I really donít know what to do. Okay I know what I should do. I should stop smoking and find a healthy coping mechanism. But I donít want to do that. I donít want to stop smoking and I donít want to give up on the idea that I could return to self harm. I need something to give me that rush and release.

Sorry for rambling so much! Any advice/suggestions?

Feel free to PM me

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think its forever
-Carl Sagan

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Re: Smoke or Self Harm? - April 11th 2012, 12:12 AM

Hey, well first well done on stopping self harming! I'm no expert but maybe you could try writing down your feelings and emotions as a way to express them and release them...? I do this sometimes to vent, then I screw the paper up and rip it to get rid of them. You could also try flicking an elastic band against your wrist, which is method people use to stop cutting, although the risk with this is it could bring back strong urges to cut :s I can't really think of much else, sorry!
Hope this helps a bit.
Katherine xox

"it's always okay in the end; if it's not okay then its not the end"
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Re: Smoke or Self Harm? - April 11th 2012, 04:28 AM

I like your suggestion of find a healthy coping mechanism

I also like that you were honest enough to say that you don't really want to do that. So, bearing that in mind . . .

Nicotine addiction, like self harm, gradually gets worse as you become more dependent on it. I started smoking (again, I quit a few years ago) in December. And for a long time it was one a day . . . then two a day . . . then a few . . . then moving to rollies because they're cheaper . . . now I smoke anywhere between 5 and 20 in a day. Not healthy.
We all know about the negative effects of the tar on our lungs, the increased risk of stroke and heart disease and lung cancer and all that - and we also know that smoking makes us smell. Really really bad. To people who don't smoke, we reek. They don't want to stand too close to us but they're too polite to say anything about it. It also gives us yellow teeth, yellow fingers, and a frequent need to be outside when others are indoors.

Self harm creates visible damage to your body. Although the damage may fade, the urges remain. People judge us for our SH, whether consciously or not. Employers give us second thoughts when we're clearly the best person for the job. Self harm is also often an indicator of underlying issues or mental illness.

So well. My advice is this: don't start hurting yourself again. Smoking is an addiction there are plenty of ways to deal with - patches, gum, medications - there are hordes of things out there designed to help you not smoke. So see a medical professional about one of these options, so that when you get a craving, you can still get a nicotine "hit" without the damage of actually smoking cigarettes.

In the mean time, back to the suggestion you're not keen on. See a doctor. Get referred to a mental health professional. Ask them about anything and everything you can think of. Tell them about your struggles with self harm and with smoking. They will have many suggestions, some of which might even appeal to you.

And remember. Rehab is for quitters.
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