When You Don’t Make the Cut

A can of 20 picks from Whipping Post



I don’t talk about self-injury (SI) much, but since it was a significant portion of my life for awhile, and I know others might struggle with this, I want to tell you about my coping mechanisms.

By now, I’ve mostly overcome cutting. I’m not going to lie- there are some times where I miss it. To be completely honest, I’m not sure why I found it soothing. If I had to guess, it might be because I liked taking care of something I could see. You can’t see mental illness, but would a healthy person destroy their forearms and thighs with a pocket knife? It was like I had to prove to myself that I was sick. And then, when I was done with my routine, I’d clean myself up, like I had fixed something. I haven’t found anything healthy that will truly replace that feeling (here’s to hoping that you do!); instead, I’ve come up with a few things that are physical and can distract me until the feeling passes.

One strategy I use is to carry around fidget toys. The best ones are the ones that hurt, but don’t pierce the skin. Guitar picks are small and feel almost like a knife. They’re very small and you can put them in your pocket. They’re also pretty cheap and rather normal to carry around. You can get a can of 20 here or go to any music store.

There are also spiky dryer balls that you can carry around. If you squeeze them hard enough, you can definitely feel pain. There are also weird hair detanglers you can get.

In addition, coating your skin with eucalyptus oil or rubbing alcohol wipes creates a tingling sensation.

Again, it might not always help, but each step is better than no step at all.