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Coping Skills Not Working

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What do you do if you have tried every coping skill, and nothing equals that sting of relief with cutting? What do you do if nothing feels the same as the numbing of starvation? I’ve recovered from anorexia because of my health, but nothing feels as good as restricting. Cutting is a distant second. All of the stupid ‘coping skills’ don’t help me. Medicine, therapists, etc don’t help me. What will?

What helps is wanting to stop, deep down in your guts wanting to stop. No ‘well, this feels better’ because it’s guaranteed that nothing will feel as good as starving or self-injury at this point. If you’re looking for that substitution you’ve set yourself up for failure. Sort of how like a drug user will not find a substitution for heroin or crack cocaine or whatever they use.

To recover you have to know that it’s not going to be easy, you have to want to with every bit of yourself, you have to know you will be very uncomfortable at times, you have to realize you won’t find anything that feels as good as starving or cutting, you have to let self-destruction go.

Some people do phase out of it but that doesn’t sound like where you’re at. That wasn’t where I was at, either. I didn’t entertain the thought of recovery until a year of living with the symptoms of schizophrenia. It made me realize I don’t want that life anymore, I don’t want to live my life in fear. If it hadn’t been for that, I think I’d still be harming myself. It shook me out of the complacency I was in, the comfort zone I was in. Depression isn’t easy but there’s something very comforting about it to some people and that was me.

There are no guarantees. To be quite honest, I never put into use all those ‘coping skills’ lists that I learned from my multiple hospitalizations, nor the ones my therapist taught me, nor the ones on the Internet. I never did the ‘homework’ I’d be given by mental health care workers. I thought it was useless, I still think it’s useless for me. I had to hit the point where it was giving way to voices/fear/paranoia/delusions and guaranteeing me a life where it was fear and not me in charge or recovery. I chose recovery… and the only thing I used off those coping skills lists was writing poetry, artwork, making websites, writing scripts, and talking to people when I was slipping under again. I would have done all of those except for talking with people anyway.

Not that I’m saying that coping skills are useless. It’s just that the ones on those lists for ways not to self-injure aren’t what leads to recovery. I think that’s a common misconception. You do the coping skills on those lists and you start feeling better is what seems to be said. To me, a lot of them are just trying to stave off those negative feelings and hoping they go way, they don’t really change what brought about those feelings.

Though there are the coping skills that are more in depth than that. The ones that involve investment.

Recovery is different for everybody and for those people who aren’t going to phase out of it the answers are a lot deeper and more personal than those coping skills/distractions lists.

You can get better, there is hope. Maybe like me, your path won’t be the one therapists and hospitals say are the answers. Not that I’m saying treatment is useless but it’s only one component, the rest is all you.


1 Comment

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I’m a heroin addict, 35 days sober. And you’re right no coping skills are going to be better then that high, hunger pain, cut, ect. But the want, the drive, and the happiness/stability are worth it everytime. When you have an addiction you’re controled by it, it tells you what to think and what to do. And you’ll do almost anything to get it. If you spend half your time in recovery as you did obsessing about your illness you’ll make it. The thing that worked most for me, and I thought it was silly at first too, but it support. Not your family or friends, but people who understand! People who have been in your situation, and want to help other people get through the same thing to help themselves. Good luck with your troubles, it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders.


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