- Feelings of shame may reappear leading to self-harm.
It’s not OK to hurt yourself and it’s not OK to hurt anyone else.
Beginning to Feel
Changing habits – beginning to feel after years of not feeling – is hard work. Particularly when, as a boy, there were such good reasons for not wanting to feel.
There are good reasons now to change and here are some ideas that may help :-
- As with sudden memories and flashbacks, try to identify the triggers that occur before you go numb.
- Try to become aware of going numb as you’re doing it. This is a first step in getting some control.
- If you decide that you’re not going to space out, then ways to get in touch with your feelings are :-
- Focus on your body. Sometimes feelings emerge as a pain or sensation in the body.
- Breathe. Slowly and deeply. We tend to restrict our breathing and hold ourselves tightly when we don’t want to feel. Deep breathing also helps deal with panic.
- Afterwards try to identify what you’ve felt. If you can’t put a name to it you could draw it/paint it, or mould a model of it in plasticine. Anything which gets the feeling out into the open.
- Remember you still have the option of continuing to space out or go numb if you want to. You don’t have to feel everything. This might be overwhelming, particularly in a crisis. You can choose to go numb if it doesn’t feel safe to have your feelings, or if you just haven’t got the energy. You might make this choice if :-
- You’re trying to cope with an addiction. Having your feelings might be overwhelming and drive you back to the addictive behaviour.
- You’re in a pattern of hurting yourself, spacing out might be an alternative to hurting yourself. However be careful with this. If your pattern of self-harm involved hurting yourself as a way of jolting you out of numbness, then you’ll need to find a way of coping other than spacing out/going numb.
- You think that having your feelings could lead to rage which could result in violence.
Always try to tell a member of your support team about the feelings you’ve had.
The important thing is to get some control and start to feel your feelings. Getting control helps you to take charge of the crisis. Beginning to feel takes you through the crisis and into recovery. You’re steering your life raft over the rapids and into the calmer water beyond.