Distraction doesn’t work with my anxiety.  When I’m anxious about something, I can’t switch it off.  I either have to face it, or talk it through.  I can’t ignore it.  I can try and drown it out, but it stays there.  It doesn’t go away until I’ve dealt with it.  And the only way to deal with it is to work through it.

Distraction doesn’t work with my depression.  I can do things that could distract me, such as watch TV, read – whatever it is that I need to do.  But it doesn’t change my mood.  It doesn’t change the fact that I feel like crap.  I’m just doing something whilst feeling like crap, rather than sitting or lying somewhere just drowning in it.  It makes me look like I’m okay, that I’ve got everything sorted, but doing daily things doesn’t change how low I feel, how worthless I feel, how much I just want to give up.

The one thing distraction does really work with is my self-harm.  When my mood is low, I can have self-harm thoughts a lot, and very occasionally I can have self-harm thoughts when I’m anxious.  Self-harm thoughts on their own aren’t the issue.  It’s when they come with the overwhelming urge to self-harm, with non-stop imagining what it would be like … the blade, the blood, the pain.  When that hits … I have to get out, I have to distract myself, or I know that in that state, I will self-harm.  And the urge goes … generally it lasts no longer than an hour or so at a time, so I know if I can get through that, then I continue having thoughts without the urge, and I’m safe.

I have a variety of different distractions that can work, depending on a variety of factors including how low I am, how long I’ve had the urge for, and how long I’ve been low for.  I might watch TV, or play a game on my tablet or Xbox.  If the urge has lessened a little, I might read.  I have an adult colouring book, which is one of the best things I’ve ever bought!  A lot of the time I’ll blast music out to drown out the self-harm thoughts, so I can’t even concentrate on any thoughts as the music is all I can hear.  If I try all these things, and I can’t focus and the urge is just overwhelming everything.  I walk.  I walk until the urge has gone.  I know that way that I can’t self-harm as I don’t have anything readily available.

Yes, these aren’t foolproof, and I still self-harm sometimes, but distraction has helped me get through a lot of times where I could have self-harmed.

Does anyone have any distraction techniques they have that have worked, I wonder?

B x

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