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04/12/2012 10:54 AM

"Withdrawal" from self harming?

xoxchls
 
Posts: 55
Member

Does anyone else get "withdrawal" when they haven't self harmed in a while? Whenever I try to stop I get these pains that are almost like cravings. My arms get these stabbing pains but there's nothing causing them. Idk if this is normal?
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04/12/2012 12:28 PM
AsianGoddess

I had a friend who had to have his toe amputated because of pain for health reasons I don't know much about. Once the toe was cut off, and his wounds healed from the surgery, he would experience pain on his foot where the missing toe was. So, I'm not totally sure if it's psychological? Or we learn to live with the pain because it became "our normal?" Even when it isn't normal for anybody.

I think, for me, I will always have the urge to self-harm because it is a familiar defense mechanism instead of facing and dealing with what's really bothering me. I opened Pandora's box and ate of the forbidden fruit, so to speak. But what's different is I now struggle with it. I am not oblivious to my thoughts, feelings and actions anymore. And that's why the urge is felt even stronger because I'm sensitive to it. And I'm free to choose whether to give in to my urges or not. I am trying to choose not to. And some days, it's really one day at a time or one hour at a time.

For me, it starts with a thought. I'm stressed, I need some release. Then I start to think, I should engage in self-harm. Then, I start to feel the urge growing, the more I try to resist, the stronger the urge seems to get. In a split second, I could engage in self-harm, which doesn't solve anything. Or instead of thinking I should engage in self-harm, I try to intercept that thought and think about how do I deal with my problem instead. What can I that is healthy for me to relieve the stress in the meantime? I could take a walk? I could walk the dogs? I could exercise? I could crochet? I could paint? For me, if I filter what I perseverate on, its easier to manage my emotions and consequently, my behaviors.

Maybe for us, having the urge is not a bad thing. It's our yellow light, warning signal of looming danger. Maybe our body is saying we need to shower ourselves with love and kindness because we really need it right now. Other people don't have this signal. Having the urge is not our biggest problem. It's what we do with our urges that affects our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.


04/14/2012 08:53 AM
livinglife12
livinglife12  
Posts: 16
Member

I don't know if it is normal, but I do know that you are not alone in experiencing withdrawl when not cutting. The first time I self-injured was when I was 16, and now at age 27 I can say my levels of withdrawl varied depending on the year, stress, and amount of cutting going on before my attempt to stop. My withdrawl symptoms were like you said "cravings", the only problem for me was I not only had the craving when I was actively ceased from cutting, but I had it worse when I was actively engaging in cutting as a coping mechanisim for everything. I don't know if that makes sense, but that was me.

When the cravings would hit, sometimes I would just give into it right in that split second, other times I would drive myself crazy trying to "pass through it". The cravings to engage in cutting were, for me, just as bad as the actual act, depending on what the "solution" to the craving led to at the time.

Now, that I am 27, and yes I agree that it is like opening pandora's box, I finally have been self-injury free for 11 months and in the last 3 months have finally reached a first time ever of a reduction of cravings and cutting is not within the first 5 things that pops into my active thought process when something comes up (emotion, thought, situation, etc...). It was not easy, it was hell to be honest in the beginning. But, actually experiencing this part of what is possible after 11 years of self injury in some form or another is a positive special in my life.

I know that when the first 5 things don't work, then cutting will come up but, I feel like I am in a better place and know what boundaries not to venture near and/or touch to help from my side to prevent as much as I can of those occurances in which cutting will come up in my mind set either as a solution or craving (the both tend to go hand in hand for me).


04/15/2012 07:58 AM
inrepair76
 
Posts: 230
Member

I'm not sure if its withdrawal but I do miss cutting. Its been a year since I've specifically cut (I've done other self harm things) and recently its been something I've been struggling with. For the last few weeks I've been super stressed waiting for a job notification and since major stress is a trigger for me its been rough but I kept telling myself that I would wait to cut to see if I got the job and if I did I wouldn't cut and if I didn't i gave myself permission to cut. I got the job(yay), so no cutting for me but part of me is kinda disappointed that I couldn't cut...how messed up is that? So i guess its withdrawal? or just still having the urges even though I know I can cope better than cutting? idk, but your not alone in craving the urges.

04/15/2012 08:10 AM
xoxchls
 
Posts: 55
Member

Thanks guys Smile And good luck to all of you

04/16/2012 09:56 PM
peasha
peasha  
Posts: 1374
VIP Member

Out of all the research that I have done since I have been part of the SI family. I have learned that SI is an addiction like any drug and you can get the same "side effects" as if you were taking drugs. Everything from cravings, to night sweats, stomach troubles, fevers, throwing up, migraines, referred pain (similar to the withdrawl symptoms you were talking about), and the rest of that list people deal with under people who suffer with addiction.

When you are actively cutting is when that craving or withdrawl is the worst and its the urges in your head causing you to want that enough that you can feel it. I know that for me I could feel it really bad in the beginning. I could tell you the exact tool that I was craving to use on my arms AND exactly where my body was feeling the cut should be.

It took many months and a few years for those feelings to go away, but in times of high stress I do get flashback withdrawels of that nature that are kinda scarey. I would have to say that what you feel is normal in my opinion we all have some withdrawel symptoms similar in nature that draws us to our cutting.


04/17/2012 07:31 AM
AsianGoddess

That makes sense, Peasha. If every thought we make creates a neurological pathway in our brain that would facilitate the fulfillment/implementation of that thought, then it makes sense that urges and the "drive" to self-harm will be somewhere in our psyche. The longer anyone self-harms, the more ingrained that habit is into our personality and being. The more we do something, the more it becomes a part of who we are. What we practice, we perfect more as my therapist used to say.

In the same light, we can always change. Even if we don't feel like we can or the thought has never occurred to us, we can always change our ways. When we make changes its difficult, for a season. Our brain is telling us to do one thing even when we want to do something else because we are creatures of habit. That neurological pathway is alive and strong. When we try to change, we usually start with changing our thoughts. When we ignore what our brain is telling us, and focus all our efforts and time to changing our thoughts which fuels our emotions and in turn, helps us to be in charge of our behaviors, our brain will wrestle with the idea, for a season. It is confused. It thinks we still want to practice old patterns and behavior. But the longer we persevere, after a season of struggle, our brain becomes convinced that we want to change our thoughts and behavior. Our brain will then kill off the old neurological pathway for the old thought pattern and old behavior, and create a new one for the new thoughts and new behavior.

But maybe because we will always have that old neurological pathway in our brain, granted it's dead and non-functioning, the inclination to fall into old habits and addictions are always present. And we need to keep denying entertaining old thoughts/behaviors and make sure we keep ourselves in check. Otherwise, it's so easy to relapse when we quit thinking about our state of mind and what we perseverate on before we act.


04/17/2012 09:51 AM
BorderAngel
BorderAngel  
Posts: 22
Member

I definitely get that withdrawal symptoms as well. I agree with Peasha, when I was hospitalized for Self Injury they kept saying its like treating an addiction. My psychologist even said that to me. It gets so bad when I just place my eyes on something sharp I think of harming myself with it. It like I need another 'hit'. Like any other drug. And if I have a relapse, it feels like this HUGE relieve that I get especially from that first cut after for not cutting for so long. I had a time where I stopped for months, but was trigger by abandonment (I'm a Borderline). At the moment I haven't cut for 2 weeks. But I'm slowly going mad inside again. I feel numb. And it seems like cutting will make me feel alive and relieved again from all this overwhelming emotions. So yes, your not the only one experiencing "withdrawal".
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