You Cannot Always Rely on Your Self-Harm Comfort Shield

September 23, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

When someone has a bad hair day (as cliché as it sounds), they tend to go for the same hat or hairstyle to find a sense of comfort. Even when finding a seat in classroom or a stall in a bathroom, people tend choose what they are comfortable with and those decisions become almost habitual. The same goes for self-harmers when they feel triggered to hurt their bodies – they make choices based on what they know best.

This also goes hand-in-hand with what is used to cover up self-harm scars. Those who feel the need to cover up self-injury marks typically go for the same kind of solution – bracelets, make-up, long sleeves, etc. Everyone makes certain decisions to protect themselves from feeling a certain way or turning to certain behaviors.

When those who self-harm turn to grab their go-to items of comfort and they are nowhere in sight, the chaos can turn into catastrophe.

Many people look for something for less than a minute before panic mode takes over. Even if that item is directly in front of them and they did not take the time to look, people melt down just out of the possibility of it not being there. That possibility can make people with high anxiety begin to panic and if they self-harm as well, self-injuring may seem like the only coping skill that could help when, of course, it isn’t.

It is Okay To Separate Yourself From Items of Comfort

It is okay to separate yourself from items you use to cover self-harm scars because, when those items aren't nearby, you don't want anxiety to take over. I recently shared a hotel room with three of my friends, and when we all began getting ready to end the night, I couldn’t find the usual bracelets I wear. I had taken them off to replace them with nicer ones for the occasion and when I couldn’t find the others, I instantly began to panic. Even though I haven’t had a fresh self-harm mark on my skin for six years, I still need to have no less than two bracelets on at all times. I found hair ties to wear around my wrists, but I had a terrible night’s sleep and when I woke up, I was not in the best of moods.

After looking again for a few minutes the next morning, I found them.

I know I do not need to wear bracelets all the time and, lately, I’ve gone to sleep a few times without them (which is very rare). However, being in a very cluttered, small hotel room in a busy, social environment, I felt my anxiety skyrocket after less than a minute of looking for them. I did use self-talk (which is my go-to coping skill), but as the search became unsuccessful, so did the coping skill.

We need to be able to handle ourselves when our protective shields are not there for us to grab or wear. If you are a person who constantly goes for the same coping skill, it is important to have a backup plan (and a plan after that). You don’t need to stress over not having those items of comfort because, well, it’s not worth the anxiety. It is difficult to convince yourself of that if it has become part of your day-to-day routine. However, if you are someone who hasn’t self-harmed in years and has few scars visible, try going a day or two without the make-up or bracelets. Try to use the nervous emotions you will feel as feeling a sense of freedom.

No matter what, once you convince yourself that it is okay to break your shield of comfort, you will be able to handle those tough situations with more ease.

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Tags: comfort scars

APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, September 23). You Cannot Always Rely on Your Self-Harm Comfort Shield, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 20 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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