Saturday, February 9, 2008

why "frozen oranges"?

all forms of self-harm serve a purpose to the people who do them, whether it's restriction, purging, self-mutilation, smoking, drugs, drinking, etc. the purpose is that these behaviors bring a sense of relief; they're coping mechanisms. they are commonly resorted to when a person is feeling emotions they don't want to deal with, and these behaviors are a way of escaping feelings.

part of treatment from addictions is to find replacements for these coping mechanisms so that when we feel overwhelmed by an emotion, we can get through it without hurting ourselves. there are hundreds of tricks people use to practice healthier ways of dealing, it just depends on focusing in on what it is that's calming about the self-harming habits.
for example, people who cut may be doing it for the feeling of physical pain to distract from the emotional pain. a common way for them to replace the behavior is to snap a rubber band on their wrist so they can still feel the sting, but it's not putting them at the risks for severe injury or infection.

when i was in the walden partial program, they would keep frozen oranges in the freezer. when patients were feeling unbearably anxious or overwhelmed, the first thing we were offered was a frozen orange to squeeze until we felt calmed down. it would burn after a few seconds, but our thoughts would stop racing because the brain had no choice but to focus on the physical pain of holding the orange.
despite no longer needing them, i now associate frozen oranges with the idea of healthier coping skills and a sense of relief, which is exactly what writing this blog is for me. hopefully it can be for others as well.

4 comments:

this business of words said...

change is important; getting beyond is all about create new pathways and starting over...

The Patient said...

Love the title of your blog! The partial program I was in did the same thing - I think it's a DBT thing...

Best wishes with your recovery - and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog! :)

brie said...

Ah, frozen oranges.

I loves it.

(In IP, we did that with ice cubes...)

lishlove said...

I like your title and the back-story that comes with it.

I've heard the term "frozen peas" and thought it was the same concept but with oranges however, it seems like it's a different term altogether, which is great. In case you're interested, frozen peas symbolize the repressed memories in the psyche that when they are released (i.e. in counselling/therapy) they are just as valid and fresh and painful as fresh peas. I like this turn of phrase because it gives a young delicateness to our suffering.