Self-harm vs Self-care

Some of you might remember one of my very first posts was “Skin picking and other strange disorders”.

I’ve been going to therapy ever since and this is what I’ve learnt so far:

Usually, when you say the word ‘addiction‘, the first thing that comes to mind is drugs and/or alcohol. Yes, substance abuse is a kind of addiction.

What most people don’t want to hear, however, is that the most common addiction is sugar addiction. Hundreds of people are affected by sugar by overeating, becoming obese or ending up with diabetes type 1 or 2.

You get different types of addictions: there’s the substances, sugar and then you get behavioural addictions such as gambling, porn, social media and cutting or picking.

All of these addictions are forms of self-harming and if you don’t treat it, it can spiral out of control.

Self-harming is when you know what you are doing is bad for you, but you get pulled in with the lies it tells you. It might tell you for instance that:

  • you can’t cope without it;
  • it will make you feel better about yourself;
  • it would take the pain away and help you escape from your reality;
  • you deserve this pain.

There are two worst-case scenarios your addiction can take:

The first one is when the addict is in denial: “I’m fine. I’m not an addict. I can handle this.” Or they blame their addiction on someone else: “Look at what you made me do”. When your an addict the mind-set is usually that you are the victim.

The second one is when you enter self-destructive mode. You know you should stop, but you can’t. You’ve lost all control. You don’t care anymore what happens to you. Self-destruction can often lead to suicide. You go into isolation, you cut yourself off from the outside world, your relationships go sour, you end up losing everything: finance, house, car, friends, family and ultimately your life.



The first step to recovery is to acknowledge that you have a problem and you need help. The opposite of isolation is connection. Most addictions you isolate yourself. You need to reconnect again. You need to rewire your brain.

Sometimes it is better to talk to a complete stranger, someone who is not emotionally involved like your loved ones.

You are going to have to make a decision to stop and take responsibility for your own actions. You are no longer the victim.

It is not easy. You’re going to need a support structure. People that won’t judge you and understand what you are going through.

In your recovery you need to find out what its the cause of your addiction: is it depression, insomnia, anger, hate, fear? Some underlying issues needs sorting out.

You go to one-on-one therapy or group therapy. You get the right medicine and support to get you through your recovery.


Triggers: People Places Things Time

You need to recognise possible triggers and prepare. Be on your guard. Triggers can cause you to relapse.

People: Substance abuse is a social addiction which means you are going to have to cut those people out of your life. People that you used with.

People can also be who makes you stress: a boss, a nagging mother. Take a break. Blow off steam.

Places: Avoid places where you ‘used’, drive different routes.

Things: It can be a song from your drinking days, photos, specific aisle in a store, etc.

Time: Most addicts only use at a certain time. Morning, afternoon, night, at work, after work, before work, anniversary.



Recovery means you need to rewire the paths in your brain. Find healthy substitutes. What is a substitute? What can you do instead of using that will make you feel better/able to cope?

Substitutes: Meditating, Exercise (walk, swimming), colour-in books for adults, better lifestyle (changing your diet: less sugar, more water).

With skin picking or other forms of self-harm: get a pen to write or draw on yourself, one that washes off at the end of the day.

Don’t substitute your addiction with another addiction. It’s so easy to substitute your substance addiction with smoking or overeating.

Beware: during recovery you will enter a phase when you think you are cured. Recovery takes 6 months – 2 years or as long as it takes. Do not fall for this false sense of security. This is how the addiction drags you back down.


Once an alcoholic, always a _____?

You are not the addiction. Addiction is a brain disease and has no cure. You will always have the urge to use again. You will have cravings. You will have to fight it your life long. But with your new friends and strategies and substitutes, it is possible.


  • It will take a long time to regain people’s trust. Do not fight them. Do not be impatient.
  • Relapse is not the end of the world. Pick yourself up and continue your journey of recovery.
  • Self-care also means to take care of yourself. Treat yourself. Take a spa-day. Do something fun. Play. Get a new haircut.


Self-care is when you accept yourself and start liking the person you are.


I hope this article helps someone.




About dada4nonsense

I am a 30-year-old (23 at heart) who loves anything nonsensical

Posted on December 17, 2016, in Notes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Self-harm vs Self-care.

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