One of the most important things that borderliners and other people who harm themselves are taught in therapy are skills. That means, if you feel the urge to hurt yourself, you should do something else to get rid of the pressure (for example using rubber bands on your wrist, holding ice cubes in your hand, eating hot chilis,…) and I always wonder how these things are supposed to help me with my problems.
Obvisously, doing something else instead of cutting is important if cutting gets dangerous. And it might be that “feeling yourself” in a non-harmful way is a good start. On the other hand, my impression ist that I still hurt myself when I’m using skills, just not as effective and not as visible as when I’m cutting. That is comforting for my surroundings because invisible things are not as unpleasant. Except for me. I hate invisible things.
Let’s assume, I am in a situation where I feel an enormous urge to cut. I have tried to postpone it for hours and I’m getting weaker and weaker, I just want to cut because I can’t think of anything else if I don’t. So I try using my skills as that is what I’m supposed to do. I chew chilis. I use rubber bands until my wrists burn. I take an ice-cold shower. Then I am tired. Just incredibly tired. The urge to hurt myself is not gone, I just don’t have the energy to do it anymore. My body protests against the way I treated it and after some time I fall asleep. How have my skilly helped me now? Did they relieve me of the pressure? No. Did they help me with the emotional aspect of the problem? Not at all and that’s what makes me angry! If I decide to make a therapy, I want to learn how to deal with all the stuff, how to avoid situations that trigger me and instead I learn how to hurt myself without anyone having to see the scars.
Using skills is exactly the same as hurting myself without visible traces. The motivation is still to make the body scream so that the soul can hear I’m still alive. And I don’t want that. It doesn’t work for me.
In case this is read by somebody who felt better by using skills – I don’t want to judge them, these are just my thoughts because they didn’t help me at all. I hope that everyone who uses skills in therapy makes progress by doing so (apparently, studies say that I am an exception) – whatever you do to be good to yourselves, I am glad for you.