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My daughter told me she self-harms but I don't understand, what does it feel like to do something like this to cope?

24 Answers
Last Updated: 05/18/2020 at 2:52am
1 Tip to Feel Better
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Top Rated Answers
- Expert in Self-Harm
April 11th, 2015 6:13am
There are MANY reasons people resort to self-harm. I would listen closely to any hints she gives about why she harms (numb, angry, trapped, anxious, depressed, sad, guilty, flashbacks,...). There are some great resources for family and friends of people who harm - several are listed here: . I hope your daughter can start to recover soon, but know it may be a long journey for her. Hang in there, and try to be patient. If you need support, don't hesitate to reach out to us or a seek therapist for yourself. It's incredibly hard to see someone you love suffering so much.
September 14th, 2015 4:17pm
In physical feeling I would say it varies from person to person how they tolerate the feeling of self-harming and what kind of self-harm it is. Our mind releases endorphins which are responsible for reducing our perception of pain and controlling emotion. Along with our minds learning things that bring us pleasure and when we do something that brings us that feeling, our mind remembers what brings us that good feeling, like when eating food, because it's enjoyable. So, our mind releases dopamine (a chemical released when you approach something rewarding) when that happens. The good feelings become addictive, and sadly for some, is how some find it through self-harming.
April 8th, 2015 9:45pm
I've done it just to feel something... Like when i felt numb i'd cut. People always told me to hold ice cubes until the urge goes away... but honestly when i cut i wanna see blood. But anyways it's a way to relieve pain.
June 22nd, 2015 2:28pm
Self-harm is a way to equate the physical pain with the mental pain. When you are worried within, you try to take it outside by harming your body. It is a way in which your mind screams, 'I don't know what to do!'
January 17th, 2015 9:02pm
Most people who self harm feel a sense of relief from it. Some people say that the physical pain can mask the emotional pain, but there's also a scientific explanation. A neurotransmitter in your brain called serotonin is released to make you feel happy. It's released when you get injured as a way for the body to get help after injury. Self-harm is the abuse of this mechanism. It gives you a temporary sense of happiness or relief.
February 16th, 2015 3:48am
Self harm is a way to cope with any kind of stress, sadness or anxiety. A person who self harms usually believes that they deserve what they are doing to themselves, they don't truly feel pain right when they do it, just numb or they have a sense of relief. However, can feel the physical pain the next day or within a few hours, Only making them disappointed in themselves and leads to more self harm.
May 16th, 2015 8:00pm
Self harming can definitely seem illogical to someone who's never suffered from it. People self harm for a huge number of reasons, some people find it numbs their emotions, other do it as a form of self punishment. Self harm is addictive as it can release endorphins (the body's happy hormones) into the brain, similar to a runner's high.
May 20th, 2015 9:25am
Self harm occurs for many reasons. Some people try to convert their emotional pain to physical pain and this can mean that once the physical pain stops, they are slightly relieved. It can be stress or anger and so on. It is a coping mechanism, but not a good one and we do have many alternatives which may help. If you look on the self help guides there is a section for self harm. It can be very difficult for family members to witness this and I reckon especially for you as this is your daughter. I believe she may need your support but obviously you cannot be there 24/7. Sometimes being able to talk to someone may help also, so if you are close to your daughter and she can confide in you, talk to her about everything, or perhaps another family member. I hope this helps.
May 24th, 2015 10:31pm
Self-harm can help a person experience a sense of relief from the pain they're undergoing at the time, it can also help a person calm down and feel better. Though in the long term, it creates more problems than it helps solve.
July 21st, 2015 2:30pm
It feels extremely desperate, and most of the time in my experience it was only a last resort. It was a distraction from what was going on around me.
August 6th, 2015 1:17am
Our brains cycle through thoughts at an oftentimes-overwhelming pace. Self harm can be a really good way to feel control over the things that hurt, which does sound kind of strange, especially to those who haven't been through it. Your daughter may self harm for a various amount of reasons - to feel that control of her own pain, to release endorphins, to deal with emotional pain. Please just remember to be supportive during this time, and just listen to her. Don't brush off her feelings, listen to her; kids say more than you think, you just have to listen carefully. It's normal to not understand, but the two of you can get through this together with some communication and an open mind. :)
September 18th, 2015 2:01pm
Some people think they deserve to self harm. Some people don't know how else to cope with suicidal thoughts, depression or anxiety, so they turn to harming themselves to feel normal/happy/relieved from the pain and stress.
November 3rd, 2015 5:02pm
There are lots of reasons people self harm. To understand why your daughter does talk to her - listen don't judge and show her she has your understanding and support.
November 10th, 2015 7:30pm
Your daughter needs professional help. I will refer you to a helpline, and suggest that you make an appointment with your family physician or someone else who you can trust in the medical / psychiatric field.
December 29th, 2015 2:14am
As someone who self harms (not by cutting, but by punching, nipping and biting), it takes away the pain for a split second. Crazy given it hurts in the first place, but momentarily it stops the pain of everything else.
March 29th, 2016 3:58am
Self harming comes from different spaces. It can come from a place where there is little feeling of control of yourself or your life. But it can also come from a place where it is a release of hard to manage feelings. Its an outlet of emotion. Trying to find less harmful ways of releasing these emotions can be better long term.
August 22nd, 2016 3:06am
It feels good at first, because you're back in control of how you feel or feeling at all, but then it gets worse because just like how you felt powerless with your emotions, you now feel the same way self-harming. It's a destructive cycle, but you're scared to stop because you don't know what to do if you stop.
September 5th, 2016 7:58pm
Self harming is something many teens do to cope; and from personal experience, it takes away the pain and makes life more manageable for that moment. I have been clean from self for awhile now, so if she needs someone to talk to, I'd be happy to help. Hope everything works out for you and your daughter! Best wishes, -Alexis
January 17th, 2017 7:02pm
Your daughter may be self-harming for any variety of reasons, so I may not be able to tell you exactly why she did it or exactly how it felt for her; however, as someone who has struggled with self-harm, I can tell you about my personal experience. I self-harmed because I was distraught and I felt completely alone, like not one single person in the world cared enough to listen to me. In a way, I guess, cutting made me take my mind off things. The simplicity of the pain helped me to clear my mind, as though a great storm inside my head was suddenly calmed, suddenly satisfied. I took to doing it whenever I felt as though my emotions were storming; when I was angry, sad, confused, or scared, I took it out on my wrist, simply because there was no other outlet. There was no one to turn to. Your daughter's case may be different, so you should talk to her, but just make sure that she isn't alone in this. Please don't leave her alone in this, because my father did, and since then. it's been three years of struggling on my own. No matter what you do, listen to her, because I know that if I'd had someone listening, things might have turned out differently.
March 7th, 2017 1:56pm
Self-harm is a tough topic. Especially when you have someone such as your daughter doing it. Self-harm could mean more than one thing. For example, snapping a rubber band repeatedly on your wrist could be caused by anxiety or irritation. Along with that, there are many other ways, worse ways, that one can self-harm. To do this to cope feels numb. It makes you not feel anything especially if someone has been doing it for a period of time. It can be used as a punishment, an apology, or a distraction. In the moment you feel everything and nothing all at once. You feel something release inside of you, kind of like a pressure. It's hard after someone starts to stop because the feeling can be addicting. The numb feeling inside combined with the pressure of pain being released can make someone want to do it more.
June 13th, 2017 4:57am
Self-harm can mean many thing's, it can be a scream for help and other things. If she told you this i would recommend a therapist so she can talk with someone. I hope this helps you
August 21st, 2017 11:42pm
Like the physical pain creates a outage for the emotional pain. It is different for everyone however. It can be a sense of feeling something rather than a numb feelings
July 16th, 2018 3:54am
It can help to kind of refocus her. Her emotions can be so overwhelming that the pain from self harming can sort of bring her back to reality.
May 18th, 2020 2:52am
Self-harming was a way of distracting myself from the thoughts in my head. The pain drew my attention from the mental and emotional pain that I felt. Although self-harm is extremely common when it comes to coping mechanisms, it is different and feels different for everyone who does it. It can act as a distraction and for some people they feel as if they have to do this, or it is what they deserve, which I can imagine would be an absolutely horrible feeling. Make sure you continue to support your daughter, even if you don't understand how it feels.