A Creative Alternative to Self-Harm That Works

Written by Hannah Blum, author of The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love

Self-harm is not something I talk about often, however, it is part of my past and my journey living with bipolar disorder. I can tell you that it was not a cry for help. No one noticed, and the majority of those who are closest to me will find out through this post that it even happened. I believed cutting would release the pain, almost as if it was trapped in my body and needed a way to escape. Therapists used to give me a list of coping skills that lasted for a day and then ended because they did not work. Take five deep breaths and count to ten! The main issue with these types of techniques was that I could not visually see the progress.

Coping With Art

Coping with art is something I genuinely believe works and encourage when it comes to living with a mental illness. There is something about seeing what you have written created that gives you a sense of pride even though it may not wholly take away the internal pain. I believe it reminds you of your color in those moments when darkness takes its place. Drawing instead of cutting is an alternative to self-harm that has been gaining popularity over the last couple years. In my opinion, it is a technique that works, and there is proof to justify it’s success in helping people who struggle with self-harm.

The Twitter Pic That Went Viral


Amelia Hall painted Vincent van Gogh’s “Cafe Terrace At Night” instead of self-harming and shared the picture on Twitter which ended up going viral. Amelia is 18 years old and lives with depression. She has been self-harming for years, but one day decided to turn her pain and urge to cut into art. It took three hours to finish the masterpiece on her leg.

In an interview with The Independent, Amelia explains, “Painting helped me realize that there are far less destructive methods of coping with depression that self-harm. I wanted to create something positive.” Amelia and the photo have inspired many individuals around the world to utilize this alternative.

The Butterfly Project


I wrote about The Butterfly Project when I first started this blog. It is an initiative in mental health focused on providing a unique coping technique for individuals struggling with self-harm. Those who struggle with self-harm are encouraged to draw a butterfly in the area they feel the urge to cut, and naming it after a loved one or a person who wants them to get better. It’s a blog that gives followers the opportunity to submit pictures of their butterfly, share their story and reveal the positive impact it has had on their lives.

I can tell you from experience, self-harm never did anything except make my pain visible in a devastating way. Our scars are part of our struggle; our struggle is rooted in our success. Get the help you need to live the life you deserve. No storm lasts forever. Reach out or check out resources such as the non-profit organization, Self-Injury Outreach and Support.

For more mental health content, follow me @hannahdblum