Calming Down

Many years ago when my son was having his most difficult times he began cutting. If you don’t know much about it here is a link: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/cutting-is-a-call-for-help/.
It is a horrible time for the individual as well as the people who love them.

While this was happening and I was seeking solutions, my therapist recommended this to me, as a method to use, especially with teens as it helps in multiple ways.
When people cut themselves they often leave scars. While the scars mar the skin, they are also a reminder of all the hurt and pain that was felt, hence the reason for cutting and getting the scars. This is a vicious cycle.
1. Purchase a good Vitamin E oil, or other oil that the individual likes both the smell and feel of.
2. Tell the individual that the oil is going to help calm the mind and help minimize scarring.
3. The individual is to put a small amount of oil on the scar, or scars, and rub them gently, massaging the oil into the skin.
4. This should be done at least three times a day but can be done EVERY time the individual is feeling stress or the need to cut.

What does this do?
By rubbing the skin, one is doing something called “self-soothing”. It relaxes the body by releasing serotonin and dopamine in the brain that send a positive message to the body. Read more here: https://medium.com/thrive-global/how-massage-affects-your-mood-334663052773.

Rubbing the oil also helps the skin heal to reduce scarring.

***************************************************************************************************

My experience:

When I talked to my son about this he was “okay” with it because it was something that he could do, independently, so as not to have to rely on anyone or face any embarrassment. It could be done anytime since it was a quick process if necessary.
He did this whenever he had the “desire” to cut. It worked. He told me that it did help reduce that stress and feeling to hurt himself.

I taught this technique to my students when I was working at a Clinical Day Program for high school kids with emotional disturbances. Most of these students were extremely volatile, self-injurious, physically aggressive, and angry. For one student in particular, “Jenny”, she used this technique after I gave her the oil and she stopped cutting. Other students in my class used the technique and just described it as a relaxing thing to do.

I would love your feedback or if you have additional information you would like to share, please do.

©2021 CBialczak
*Disclaimer: I am not a physician and do not guarantee that this is a good solution. This is primarily anecdotal with personal experience as evidence. Talk to your own doctor.

17 thoughts on “Calming Down

  1. I went through a period of cutting and burning and other self-torturing exercises, as a teen. Then my son did too. Wish we had something like this to help us. I eventually asked for help (no one in my family noticed) and got help from son as soon as I noticed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so terribly hard to deal with, both for the cutter and the onlooker. I’m sorry you didn’t have that kind of help. Now that my son is gone I feel like I have to share as much about him as I can. This was a positive I guess you could say. Thanks for reading. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is one of the keys! It makes a world of difference if you are able to help based on experience, not just education. There is so much more to it than just written facts. There is the human piece that makes it that much more valuable!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Brandon, some therapists will teach that as a technique but the problem with that is you are still causing some sort of pain or discomfort to soothe. That doesn’t help the body to learn that soothing it gently and caringly works better and achieves the “same” result. It would be better to rub your arms with lotion to achieve the chemical releases in the brain. Thanks for mentioning that.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I am an ex-cutter of 8 years now and the only thing l would say is that the so called ‘call for help’ is not entirely true.

    Many cutters cut to wake up not to just free themselves of inner pain – don’t get me wrong – pain is usually the driving force, but so too is confusions and anger but also, to keep their sanity and l assure you from my point of view especially, my cutting was a very private affair, it was my business no one else’s.

    If people wanted to help, l would tell them to leave me be. The best advice a cutter can receive from ‘friends and family’ is that they understand but more importantly ‘keep your blades clean’ so as to keep infections clear,

    I have maybe 100 ugly scars on my arms and legs – no amount of lotions to ease the scars aided – time healed them and l remain physically scarred. I now wear the scars as a badge of merit – l got through to the end of the tunnel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rory, I can’t even imagine the anguish one must go through to find solace in self-harm but I would never judge. I never did. I just always wanted my son and my students to know they could trust me and that they weren’t being judged. One of the worst experiences of my life was when my son confided in his school counselor that he decided NOT to cut and that he threw his blade away. The school lied to me and told me he needed to be hospitalized. I show up ready to take him to the hospital and he was totally blindsided. He took off running and the cops ended up tackling him about a half mile down the road in the dirt. I couldn’t understand why he ran. It wasn’t until weeks maybe months later that he told me. I still hurt from their betrayal. He thought I was on board with them, while the whole time I just wanted my son to be safe and stay alive and healthy. I have so many stories like that. Even the night I found out he was first cutting. I feel like I handled things wrong the whole time. Nothing I can do now. Nothing I can redo. I just always hoped and prayed he knew I was there for him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a difficult topic for a lot of people Christine, for me it was a way of life for quite a few years. I started self harming from the age of 5, l stopped finally by myself at 49.

        My most active time was from my 15th year to my late twenties. Then l was fine ‘ish, but from my forties to my fifties l was very active.

        Many people will never understand it, a lot of the medical professionals will never understand the mentality.

        Your son was hard done by his school and they also performed the same with you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I hope you have the strength within yourself to find another route should you need it. No one should ever judge another, especially if they have never dealt with the feelings. People don’t understand…while others do and they just really don’t care. All I know is that I genuinely don’t judge so whatever the rest of the world does, let them! Thanks for having the conversation.

        Liked by 1 person

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