Today, instead of writing of my past experiences I am going to write about a topic that is vital to recovery of any kind. Developing positive, and effective coping mechanisms. It took me a very long time to begin establishing coping mechanisms that didn’t further hurt me. For example, in the ninth grade I began to self-harm. For a while I believed that I was only doing this because I was so numb that I couldn’t feel anything, however, now that I’ve been going to therapy for about thirteen years on and off, and have been hospitalized close to thirty times I’ve come to realize that there was much more to my self-harm. I was deeply angry and had no idea how to get the anger out, or how to express to the people who had hurt me that I had not deserved the pain! That anger was turned inward and tempted me to start harming myself. I also did it because sometimes the emotional pain was so great I desperately wanted something to distract me from it, even if it were only for a few minutes.
Later on in my life I began to abuse my prescription medications, alcohol, and marijuana in addition to self-harming. I will go more into how I got free of that in a later post! So on to positive, effective coping mechanisms. When it comes to deciding what works for you and what doesn’t first think about things you like to do, and things that bring you comfort when you are stressed out. For me, my main ones are drawing, writing stories, writing in my journal, and talking to my loved ones. I have many more, but those are probably the ones I use most often. Make a list of all the things you like to do and try to make it as long as possible, that way you have many to choose from. Sometimes one coping mechanism that you lean on the most will suddenly not help you in a particular situation. For example, I usually draw, however, when I get extremely stressed out and feel threatened I may “switch” to one of my alters, Katie. Katie hates drawing because she isn’t very good at it unlike Jaenelle and I. If Katie is in control of the body at that time, a different coping mechanism will work. For Katie, talking things out with someone she trusts works very well, or watching a television show that brings her comfort.
After you make your list of all the things that you like to do, you can go on the internet and search out more coping mechanisms. Pick the ones that you want to try and add them to your list. After you have done this, practice using them and even keep the list with you at all times if that helps! Don’t be afraid to refer back to it, coping mechanisms make life’s stresses easier to deal with, and can even save your life. One coping mechanism that I have been using for about eight years now is having an “Emergency box”. Gather things together that make you happy, soothe you, and remind you that there are people who love you and would be hurt if you weren’t around. Put all of those items in a special box (mine has a lock on it so only I can access it) and go through it when you need comfort.
My emergency box had pictures of my dog, crayons, soft fabrics, pictures of my mom, pictures of places I want to go someday, lucky coins, and a bunch of little miscellaneous objects that for some odd reason make me feel comforted. Put anything in there that helps you feel good! Everyone’s is different!
So, what I want to know is, what coping mechanisms work for you? Which ones don’t? Please feel free to comment on the blog or on the Facebook page! I would like to start getting more interaction going on!! Even I can use some suggestions!