One of the symptoms associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is the urge to self-harm. This can manifest itself in several ways, including burning your skin with cigarettes or matches, tearing at your hair, or banging your head. Often, this compulsion to self-harm manifests itself with cutting.
If you have Borderline Personality Disorder, you may already know what cutting is. For those who don’t, cutting is a type of self-injury in which someone uses a sharp object (a razor, a knife, scissors) to break their skin.
Cutting is different from suicide attempts in that the cutter is not intending to end their life, but to numb some sort of distress caused by a trigger. Obviously, though the attempt may not be suicide-related, cutting is very dangerous due to the potential loss of blood and risk of infection. It can also be emotionally dangerous, as people report becoming addicted to cutting.
How to Resist the Urge to Cut
Resisting the urge to cut can be a major challenge. Here are some things you can do next time you feel the urge:
Be aware of what situations trigger the desire to cut. Cutting is an impulsive and instant “fix” for a negative feeling. Skills learned through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help in identifying triggers and dealing with situations in a much less destructive and dangerous way.
Know what soothes you. Have a list, whether it be a mental or physical list in your pocket, of other ways to deal with the trigger. Call a friend. Listen to music. Go for a run. Take a shower. Breathe.
Try to remember that the feeling passes. In the moment, during the trigger, there is an overwhelming darkness and frustration. Think back to when this has happened before. Recall the moments that follow, the moments when that dark feeling dissipates. See if you can get there without the self-harm.
Know that progress takes time. Keep your goals realistic and don’t expect your behaviors to change overnight. Progress, believe it or not, can be scary. You may have come to identify yourself with these negative behaviors. With other symptoms of BPD such as unstable sense of self and fear of abandonment, it may feel especially scary to move into a new, healthier period of life.
Get help. If you need help to stop cutting and to manage other symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, seek help at a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center. A BPD treatment center will offer tools for emotion regulation and distress tolerance that can lead to a much more fulfilling, and safer, life.