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.
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.