Unorthodox coping strategies, distraction techniques and self-harm prevention methods that I have utilised when I’ve wanted to end my life but decided to stay alive:
1. Instead of punching somebody, scrub the shit out of your oven
2. Sign every petition on change.org
3. Give yourself a tattoo
4. Grab a cactus with all your might. Spend the following hour(s) tweezing the spikes out of your hand: it’s less of a pain, more of a major irritation. You will not be able to think about anything else, trust me
5. Reminisce on celebrity interactions, like when you touched George R. R. Martin’s beard in the lift, or when Tyra Banks approached you on a street in Barcelona and said, like Regina George, “You’re really pretty,” and you turned bright red and ran away, or the other night with that SAS guy off the telly with the laugh that didn’t reach his eyes, and wonder why these humans are rich and you are poor
6. Meditate by a motorway
7. Edit the Bible. Modernise it. Swap the names of the gospels, add topical references, update the 10 commandments. “Thou shalt not manspread on the Tube,” “Thou shalt get that bread,” “Thou shalt not be attracted to Ted Bundy,” etc.
8. Steal your neighbour’s cat: would kidnapping a cat be called catnapping? take a catnap. take some catnip. whatever, just… cat
9. Go to Poundland, pick up any random item, ask a member of staff how much it costs, be surprised when they tell you it’s a quid, repeat, repeat, repeat, until you are asked to leave
10. Tell young homeless girls that you were them once, that it doesn’t have to be forever, that it can get better
11. Go to a graveyard. Challenge yourself to find the oldest birth date and the oldest death date, and marvel at the curious causes of death that were engraved on Victorian headstones
12. Flirt with an old man, make his day
13. Get on a bus at the start of its route and stay on it until the end
14. Organise your carrier bag collection into 5p, 10p, 20p and £1 bags
15. Fall asleep in the bath: wake up choking on cold soapy water: your body won’t let you die right now so don’t even bother trying
16. TTT: tramadol, tequila and tomato soup
17. Dislocate your fingers
18. Throw your phone into the Thames. Throw your whole handbag into the Thames. Fuck it, throw your clothes and shoes into the Thames, JUST NOT YOURSELF
19. Start a fire
20. Find someone equally helpless and drag them to the nearest pub
21. Go to an AA meeting: shit coffee, free biscuits, great stories
22. Cut your hair (a bit of it, most of it, all of it, just chop chop chop (your hair instead of your arms))
23. Bet on a horse. You have to stay alive to see what happens, to see if you win. When the horse loses or dies, you’ll have a new thing to be angry or sad about
24. Pop your finger bones back into place (so satisfying)
25. Write a list naming everything and everyone you are afraid of, then eat it
26. Indulge in primal scream therapy on Hampstead Heath
27. Plant mysterious and/or sinister notes in library books
28. Revel in the fact that you are not a psychopath (yay you!)
29. Bake a cake
30. Eat it too
This post is in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week (UK)
I DO NOT recommend acting on the advice above (apart from perhaps baking and eating cake): the above points are just some things that I’ve done during severe mental health crises instead of self-harming or attempting suicide.
This is post was inspired by the coping strategies that the NHS recommend to me when I’m in crisis, techniques that (while they do help lots of people and thank god for that) unfortunately do not work for me. If one more health professional teaches me “how to count to 10” or tells me to “hold an ice cube” or “scream into a pillow” or “go for a run” or “do yoga” or “snap an elastic band on your wrist” I will snap. So this post is a response to the (ineffective and patronising) advice that mentally stable people give to unstable people when all they can feel is rage and sadness and hopelessness, and all they can think about is destroying themselves. Because sometimes breathing exercises just ain’t gonna cut it.
If you are struggling with your mental health or have any thoughts about ending your life, please seek help: from a doctor, health professional, family member, colleague, teacher, friend or even a stranger. If in crisis, call the emergency number.
Do not feel afraid or ashamed to ask for help. You are worth helping and you are worthy of life. If you know somebody who is battling mental health issues, reach out to them. Lending a sympathetic ear, giving somebody a hug or sending a simple text message could save someone’s life.
Let’s all be kinder to one another. Let’s be honest, patient, supportive. Let’s be good, good people, good human beings.
Mental illness costs lives. Kindness costs nothing. ♥
Click here for a list of International Suicide Hotlines.