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NGonzalez, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 56
Experience:  15 yrs of clinical experience, relationship issues, marriage & family therapy, eating disorders
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I have an overwhelming urge to hit myself in the face and head.

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I have an overwhelming urge to hit myself in the face and head. I don't get any satisfaction out of it. I don't feel relieved and I can't really think of any reason why I would do it. It's gotten to the point that I can't stop myself from doing it. I constantly bust my lips and blacken my own eyes. I have knocked a tooth out of my mouth before. It's involuntary now. I hate it and I feel powerless to stop myself from doing it. Why do I do this?

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry you are facing this problem. It sounds like its getting worse and having an impact on how you feel. Can you tell me a little more about this behavior and your history?

How long have you been hurting yourself?
Do you have any medical or mental health disorders (for example, eating disorder, obsessive disorder, anxiety, past abuse)?
Are you taking any medication and if so, what are you taking and for what purpose?
Have you seen a professional about this condition?
Do you hurt yourself in any other way?

I look forward to your reply.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I don't take any medication at all. I started doing this while in my undergraduate degree. It started as just some little thing that I would do to, I guess, punish myself for a bad grade or for failure. Back then though, it was voluntary and I could stop when I wanted to.

I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but I really haven't tied the two together, since I figured CFS just makes me ache and makes me tired.

I have not seen a professional about this problem. I'm afraid that they will declare me as a threat to myself and have me committed.

No, I don't hurt myself any other way. This is the only thing that happens.

Thank you for the prompt, detailed reply to my questions. I can certainly understand your apprehension about seeking help given the fear of being committed for your safety. Its an overwhelming prospect of which can produce added anxiety to the current concern. Nevertheless, I ask you to seriously consider getting help given its progressed to involuntary behavior. This means its getting harder for you to control and it will not stop without an intervention.

It is possible that someone may consider you a threat to yourself but I think most people are willing to work with you to decrease the behavior and discover the root of the problem before considering hospitalization. I'm concerned that if you do not seek some assistance now, what you fear will be actualized because you cannot stop it. Therapist want people to succeed in their own environment and usually give people that opportunity before considering inpatient.

As for the causes, there are many different reasons people self-harm. You mentioned that it started when you were in school as a way of coping with the stress of school work. Its possible this behavior became a coping mechanism for anxiety, feeling out of control, or as you stated, perfectionist tendencies. Its any unhealthy coping mechanism but it sounds like it provided relief at some point but that has currently changed. People who are hard on themselves, as you described, attempt to manage the intense feeling associated with extreme, self-imposed expectations with self harm.

There have been many advances in the treatment and management of this disorder. You can change this kind of coping with behavior intervention, including meditation, and medicine if necessary. Again, its important that you get some support. If it feels too scary to talk to someone individually, look for a group or online counseling to help you start. However, the ideal modality is face-to-face counseling. Please consider getting some support. You don't have to go through this alone.

I wish you luck and good health. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.
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