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Identifying unhealthy coping mechanisms


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Coping mechanisms:

Sleeping way too much

Isolating myself from friends

Using humor to avoid opening up to people (this is the one I REALLY want to work on. I've done it for so long that it comes so naturally)

Excessive daydreaming to avoid reality

Those are the main ones I have at the moment. I've recently started to adopt healthy coping mechanism such as working out, yoga, and meditation. They have really helped me to be able to be mindful of my feelings and stay in the present moment instead of daydreaming all the time.

Has anyone else found healthy coping mechanisms that have helped them??

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My list of unhealthy mechanisms used to far outweigh my healthy ones. It's a better balance now, even if i still feel a bit out of control.

I self harmed for 10 years, with varying frequency and method. The main factor in being able to quit was learning how to sit with my feelings instead of blocking them. I tried to become more and more self aware so that the process wasn't unconscious and I could challenge/ride out self hating thoughts.

I used to attempt suicide a lot. Then I started doing "suicide by-proxy" where i would put myself in harm's way hoping that someone else would fatally injure me. Somehow I made it through. It's harder to describe how i got from that hell pit to out but i know a decision was made, by me, that i deserved to live.

I'm just coming to terms with eating disorder stuff so at the very beginning of the journey...I only know the coping mechanism has been around since i was very young.

Isolation is a massive one for me too. It served a purpose when i couldn't risk spilling the secrets but now it can be dangerous depending on my mood. Feeling like you have no-one, that people would be better off without you creates a huge suicide risk and those thoughts happen more often when we isolate.

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I agree completely. In a perfect world, survivors would reach out and accept the support that loved ones are trying to give them. Sadly though, this doesn't always happen. I am blessed to have one person that I trust with this issue - but at my worst, there was no consolation. The idea of consolation, for a sexual assault survivor, seems absurd to me. After a rape or other sexual violence, you have to accept this part of you that has been ripped up and contorted beyond recognition. And YOU have to accept that - no amount of talking will reverse it. And sadly, most people simply don't want to hear about such dark experiences - especially those who love you dearly.

I wish it was possible to be "cheered up" after sexual assault. But it's been almost two years for me, and I still have to leave a room to have panic attacks in solitude when someone mentions rape, when people make sexist remarks, or if a man looks at me vulgarly. A survivor's struggle is not something non-survivors are programmed to understand. This makes it difficult - and often pointless - to reach out.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So agree with rosiej. It is a lifetime process. I can't count the number of times I thought it was over the memories, flash backs, thoughts and emotions. I would be so happy I had moved on. Then as I rounded the corner. There it was.

Acceptance. It is a part of my life. It doesn't get to be my while life.

Some of the coping mechanisms others list as unhealthy I accept as okay in moderation: extra sleep, day dreaming and humor. Extra sleep is sometimes a good way for healing. Day dreaming can help during dull tasks etc. Again it is balance.

I used to open to people to quickly. You don't know why people sometimes pry. It is okay to keep people at a distance until you both are ready to move beyond a acquaintance level. I have learned 5 h that people's interest in me isn't always friendship oriented. So until then. I use humor. It is good for a laugh. And if we become close ay last it isn't all drama.

I am working on being present when life is simpe, good and ordinary. Cooking dinner, visiting with a friend etc. Present and feel I g content is the best victory over the aftermath.

Thank you all for being here. Rain

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my coping mechanisms... may be triggers****

Avoidance for sure... i have recently been making myself get up in the morning and do the things i want to do the least, first. It makes me feel productive and I get what has to be done finished early... then i don't have to worry about it all day either.

Dangerous sexual encounters... not so much anymore, but i use to put myself in situtations where i was trying to gain back control with one night stands.

Today T and i talked about my avoidance of feelings. I can honestly say, I really don't know how to feel and grieve. I thought I had gone thru this process before, and yet here i am aaaaggggaain. I've coped by just walking away from things and not having to deal with the feelings. Or when something bad happens... recently a breakup of a 4 year relationship out of the blue... I just moved onto another man. I never allow myself to grieve the loss of the one person i thought i would spend my forever with... sad.

Staying too busy is another coping avoider... I have 6 kids, it's easy to do... i need to take more time for me to just be me...

all for now...

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Same here I avoid people at all cost unless it like three people i'm use to and I hardly ever see them my fiance always wants me to go out with him with his friends, but I always say no I don't know if I'm insecure or what. I'm just convinced that they hate me then he finally talks me into going and I have a good time the when I leave I keep replaying the whole night in my head whether or not I pissed anyone off or something then become convinced I do when I haven't and swear not to go out again. so the cycle start all over again so i just stay to myself and keep busy and once im so isolated for such long period of time i become depressed. Thats when I start dissociating and become numb I also use to pick at me skin a lot but I finally cut that down I don't know whether I have a problem eating or knot there are days I just eat once a day or just have one snack that day, but to be honest I do work a lot and i mean a lot so by the time i get home i'm just to tired. I often fake being happy all the time honestly i just act too happy I don't have many friends left i'm too distant to make any i guess.

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  • 5 months later...

I was sexually abused when I was a child by my grandfather. I'm not sure how long it went on for as I do not remember how old I was exactly. This lead me to seek out abuse and I found 3 different guys over the course of 1-2 years to sexually abuse me.

I then met my partner (who does not abuse me) and we have been going out for over 10 years. Recently, I lost my job due to bullying at work. This has set me back a lot as I have a lot more time to think. I sought out another guy a week ago and met him today. I cheated on my partner (I feel horrible about it) but this guy treated me roughly and I feel like I deserve to be treated like that (plus it makes me horny) and that I can't say no to him.

I have no idea what to do anymore.

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  • 1 month later...

My coping mechanisms...

I make myself fail, whatever I do.

I overheat, especially in the evening, before going to sleep.

I isolate from friends.

I don't take care of myself.

I avoid putting myself through anything that could improve my condition (sport, meditation, learning a new job).

In the past I put myself completely in my old job, to avoid thinking and having real relationships.

I was sexually abused as a child by my mother and other family members (but have no clear memory of that).

My father is also verbally abusive and used to beat me as a child. My ex husband was also verbally abusive and violent, I think my subconscious has chosen him because he was so similar to my family.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I self harm, although not as much as I used to

sleep too much, when I cant cope I wish I could just be unconscious and not have to deal with it anymore

eat too much

put too much pressure on the people around me to spend time with me [either for emotional help or distraction]

get lost in the computer

get lost ruminating and imagining bad things or how things can go wrong

miss a day of taking medication when I feel like I don't deserve to be well and able to have a life.

take things the wrong way because it scares me and I cant seem to accept reassurance at the moment.

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  • 3 months later...

I'm in denial about this;

Since my unhealthy coping mechanisms are not of the so-called "dramatic" type (drugs, alcohol, SI..), I've made myself believe I was OK(ish). I'm not.

I isolate myself.

I overstimulate my brain with new information: learning new skills, reading lots of books, spending 15 hours' days (for weeks in a row) online, while staying in my PJs, not showering, not eating (or eating anything that I may find in the fridge when feeling femished), listening to very sad songs all the time, in an obsessive way.

I hurt myself with sex. Casual sex with random strangers I hate and despise. Looking back, all my so called "relationships" feel and look a lot like prostitution. I just slept with men to have shelter, food, company. But felt miserable, even more alone despite their presence.

Right now, it's still: isolation + eating disorders + denial + overstimualtion on the intellectual side of things, to avoid the emotional turmoil.

also a biggie: going back to past abusive relationships (contacting exes despite my best intentions) for emotional relief. They were cruel to me then, they will be now. Loneliness and an impulsive coping style make me go back to those past mistakes. I do forgive myself for those, I'm only human. I try my best to let go of the past, enjoy the little things in the here and now, and embrace a better future.

oh, and last but not least, impulsive coping mechanism make me buy too many things, leaving me in an absurd poverty situation. I have tons of stuff, but in a house that is a health hazard (I need to move but procrastinate) and not enough money left for paying my health insurance and paying other basic bills.

Actually, I'm PROUD that I wrote this list. At least I'm aware of the problem. Denial will not get me anywhere, acknowledging there is a problem is actually a healthy step. And I do have healthy coping mechanisms. Negativity seems to win over right now.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello everyone. I'm a first timer here but a long time survivor. Personally I alienate myself emotionally verbally and physically. A Self Imposed exile. I simply don't really Trust anyone. For one I believe most people are bad/evil and are going to hurt me ie: disappointment accident or intentionally. So I purposefully avoid close intimate relationships. Secondly, I believe I really don't care about them anyway. Since I believe people are up to no good most of the time. So I see myself as an outsider: a rebel a fighter and mainly self reliant. I find myself focusing in on me alone activities : cooking, exercising, cleaning, shopping, reading, movie watching, drinking excessively and chronic masterbation. But the Loneliness takes its toll on my pychi attitude/ mood ie: all consuming depression anxiety anger and the breakdowns etc...

How do I manage the stress you Wonder? Be patient with myself. And Honestly take one day at time. In addition to taking the time to Heal myself.

I've recently been practicing self hypnosis. Thus far it seems to work. Its important to stay very present positive and specific when in the trance. Also I find what helps too are positive affirmations and being thankful for some of the "super people" and positive experiences in my Life.

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  • 1 month later...

This is an excellent thread...

I have a lot of coping mechanisms, but I think my worst one is being the clown/joker in front of friends. I haven't told the majority of them about what happened to me, and I often think that I'm digging myself a hole in that if I ever did tell them, they'd just turn around and say 'how could that have happened? Why aren't you sad about it?'. I'm a PRO at putting my mask on and numbing myself out by being funny, happy, silly.

Another one for me is sleeping. I sleep A LOT. People think I'm really boring for it. I can sleep for 12+ hours at a time sometimes. I've even slept for so long that I've just kept going to get to the next morning rather than getting up. Conversely, I can go through bouts of terrible insomnia that keep me up for days. And, of course, when that happens, everything begins to come back.

My anxiety can go through the roof at times, and the fallout from it can be horrendous. I lost my last job from it, but I just couldn't explain to my bosses what the problem was, so I was fired. I then go into a spiral of reliving everything and playing the blame game (with myself) even though I know I am NOT to blame.

I haven't been able to keep a steady relationship since my experience (I couldn't really before then either, but it's like I don't even try now). I don't trust anyone enough to touch me in that way anymore. I don't trust myself in that situation either. I'm afraid of what it will bring back and how I'll react.

I'm sure there are more... I'll have to think about it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

another one: giving way too much identifying info both on and offline. I tend to talk too much, then horrified that it might be used against me (bullies are everywhere, even random, casual, socalled "jokes" hurt my feelings when in the inappropriate setting), I run away and isolate myself for long periods of time.

my perps leave nearby. they are wealthy. they are powerful. it's my word against theirs. the credibility gap is kiling me. so I talk a lot about it, never sure if safe, or not. and again, I was also advised to not stay home alone;

but where could I go? who could I talk to? and about what? I hate small talk when my own life and health is at stake. how am I supposed to act/feel/talk?

I feel this hypocrite society is insane, not me wanting to reach out and talk about what matters. again,it's a matter of the right person, time and setting. let's say talking about these serious, intimate issues is not always apropriate. and I don't often find a compassionate ear.

I was even called paranoid, time and again! I think I tend to trust complete strangers too much.

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  • 1 month later...
Hi everyone:
This is one of the biggest reasons I joined this site: I have so many unhealthy coping mechanisms; much more than healthy ones.
- Going to bed late and getting up late
- Sleeping all the time. It's the only way, or one of the few ways, I can feel safe. I feel safer sleeping during the daytime than I do at night.
- Bouts of insomnia at night
- Procrastinating
- Playing computer games all the time, using them as an "escape."
- Agoraphobia
- Not returning phone calls
- Being afraid to deal with people
- Being afraid to be close to them
- Being too extroverted at social gatherings, even though I'm not nearly as open as I pretend to be. This has sometimes gotten me into trouble with guys, as they thought I was coming onto them. Even though I can be gregarious, I never reveal anything personal about myself.
- Substance abuse, though I don't do that as much as I used to
- Overeating, or "binge" eating, though I've had some success cutting it down recently
I'm sure I'll come up with more.
As I type all this, I think I'm seeing how compulsions and addictions play a big part in my life. And a sense of dread.
Looking forward to meeting/getting to know all of you better,
- DD
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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay so unhealthy coping mechanisms...today has been full of them...

Distracting myself by obsessing over work, organizing papers etc. instead of getting down to the actual stuff I need to do or actually relaxing as I need to

Overeating is becoming a bit of a problem

I've watch the film Juno about 5 times in the last week! it's a comfort thing but also to help me avoid my thoughts and feelings

I pick at my skin which has a negative effect on my self esteem, I think its a SI thing too, but despite having had strong impulses to hurt myself in other ways I have managed to avoid causing myself harm

I'm not sure if its unhealthy but taking out loud to myself started as a way to process my thoughts and now i do it quite a lot! it can make me feel a bit mad, but sometimes helpful still

isolation is the biggest one, i've been like it most of my life I think...pushing people away, avoiding meeting or talking to people BUT today i text a friend who has always been there and wanted to stay connected despite me being rubbish sometimes and not taking her calls etc.

I miss being able to enjoy my own company in peace, and want to get a good balance between keeping the company of friends and getting out of my own little world (gigs, events etc?) and being able to be alone and enjoy my own company not just distract myself...i think meditation might be a good helper in this to achieve a bit of a 'stiller' mind, or being able to move past difficult thoughts more easily

I think having come to read this thread was a positive step too..i also trigger myself intentionally, just to feel something or to try and 'get over it' as it it's that easy!

Learning to be patient is tough! Good thing to reflect on. Thank you x

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  • 9 months later...

Hi all,

Here are the coping mechanisms I currently use... I never really thought these could be related to my abuse (I have been in total denial until recently), but I really think they are related. 

Needing to be entertained during all free time. I need to have my computer or tablet constantly by me, and I need to be browsing Facebook or Reddit. Sometimes I can do this all day. I will get particularly anxious when I reread posts (IE I have gone through all new posts), then I feel bad for not leaving my room all day. 

I have three scabs on my scalp that I have incessantly picked for years. I think this started 4 years ago? 

I've gotten much better, but I used cannabis as a way to dissociate and isolate myself for probably a good 4 years. I would never be under the influence during classes or at work, but as soon as I got home I would try to be as high as possible. I developed an emotional addiction, and hated being sober. I would frequently have paranoia induced panic while being high, but I would still do it. There were times that I knew I was not in the right mindset for weed, but I still smoked anyway. I guess I preferred high panic attacks to being sober. 

Sometimes I binge eat. I can eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting. Sometimes I try to make myself throw it back up, but sometimes I'm not able to. If I eat a whole bag of chips in one day I will not eat anything the next day. 

Restless legs. I do not ever sit still unless I am very high. 

I'm relieved to have a safe space to talk. This sounds silly, but I think I repressed my abuse. Today was the first day that I ever told someone and I just feel so relieved. Is that strange? I think I am on the right path. I feel that my abuse explains so much about my childhood mannerisms and even dictates how I think and live today. I don't think I have ever felt as much emotions as I have these past two days. Even typing this out, telling someone indirectly, feels relieving.  

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Hi All,

I'm new here but I have a lot of bad coping mechanisms, the worst one is substance abuse and reckless self destructive behavior, Isolation at some points, then at others not wanting to be alone, Overloading my brain so as not to think, I'm constantly on my phone and computer, Unhealthy sexual encounters, Not eating for days on end, Not taking care of myself, Pushing people close to me away, Not sleeping.

I've felt very alone and isolated these past few months since my incident and it is comforting to know that I am not alone. I have a lot of support from family and friends but sometimes I feel that they don't really understand the impact it has had on my life. Some of them get mad at me when I go into this self destructive mode and they tell me to just talk to them but it's not always that easy. I really hope this site will help me in my healing process.

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Hi ... bad coping mechanisms all over the place here. Substance abuse (currently 88 days clean) ... substance abuse has been an attempt to cover other issues such as shame and depression. I have made my world very small and I feel stuck (scared) to get back to living life. I fear rejection so I just keep everyone away then of course I am lonely. Bleh! 

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  • 3 weeks later...


I have gotten rid of the "obvious" ones: SI, smoking (I used to smoke a pack a day O.o), risky sex, binge drinking/benders. Those kind of burned themselves out. Now I'm stuck with vaguer ones, like procrastination and Netflix binges. Stuff that "everybody does" - but not quite.

Then there's erotic daydreams and excessive masturbation, when that kind of mood/persona sets in. (I probably don't have DID, but I definitely have some dissociative disorder - which one, is not yet diagnosed). I don't even enjoy it, I just do it compulsively, and feel nasty as h*ll doing it. And sometimes I trigger myself in purpose if I can't stand the numbness - watch violent/degrading porn, fantasize about getting injured, etc. I used to hate myself for doing it but therapy has helped tremendously (still hate myself some, though). I haven't even talked about the subject that much - but the concepts of trauma and dissociation have offered me a lens through which I can understand myself and develop compassion towards myself.

Anger. I feel angry towards my parents, my former therapist who never addressed the abuse I was experiencing during the therapy, the healthcare professionals who failed to see what was wrong with me (when I was, in hindsight, clearly dissociating and have been since a child)... I'm less angry towards my rapists. I fantasize about executing them sometimes. Even if I fantasize about mutilating them first, there's a lack of emotion. Perhaps I'm not quite there yet.

Anyway, now I feel a bit ill, but I'm going to wear my good girl face and go to a lecture. And perhaps write my f*cking thesis, since last week was lost to anxiousness and dissociation :P /s

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  • 3 months later...
  • 3 months later...

I find ir hard to cope and even though i have family around and friends who are supportive i often find it hard to talk to them about what i am going through. How i feel as i now feel.as though i am putting a burden on them. I often find myself having a glass or 2 of wine so i can fall asleep. I dont want it to become a problem but im in tears almost every night and struggle so much to sleep


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Trying to escape from reality via excessive daydreaming when life becomes too much to deal with 

Sleeping excessively because I don't want to wake up and deal with a difficult reality 

*Will update with answers to the other questions in the post, just needed to write down the unhealthy coping mechanisms first 

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  • 1 month later...

I think my unhealthy coping mechanisms are: (*T*)

isolating myself from friends and family, going through the cycle of binge eating, then starving myself and then attempting to eat normally, wanting to hurt myself: planning on ways to kill myself (and not actually going through with it), not taking care of personal hygine and oversleeping. Reading about other's unhealthy coping mechanisms made me realize what mine were. Like I knew I had some before, but I couldn't name them.

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  • 7 months later...
Guest Lea92

I don't think I realizes how much my life changed after the rape until I really started reflecting and writing it down. 

For the first year after the rape:

-Daily Binge Drinking at times almost to the point of alcohol poisoning - this had never been something I would have don't prior to the rape. I drank very little and never to the point to extreme intoxication.

-heavy Smoking and frequent experimental drug use (had not tried either before rape)

-Over eating and weight gain for the first time in my life

-Sexually promiscuous with men of my choice.  It was as if I was trying to get back control. (I had not been interested in or involved with my rapist but he was an acquaintance who raped me while unconscious.)  The promiscuous encounters were one nighters, not pleasing to me and devoid of emotional connection and interestingly with people form my rapists high school and town.  Prior to this I was a virgin with a long term high school boyfriend I had some intimacy with.  This reinforced to all the bullies that I was indeed a "Slut".  I hate that word.  I know now I did it because I felt worthless and wanted control.  It was as if I reenacted the rape but with control - intoxicated but my choice to have sex and my choice of guy but they all knew my rapist strangely.  I view girls who others call "sluts" with compassion. First of all women should be able to sleep with who they want how often they want without judgement and name calling and secondly, It could be a horrible way of coping from trauma like it was in my case. 

After the first year:

-A shift way from extreme alcohol and drug use and meaningless sex to no sex.

-Binge and purge along with periods of starving myself (again a new behaviour - I had never even dieted or counted calories before)

-Perfectionist over driven behavior, especially driven with academics and volunteer work, career orientation focus

-So driven and focused I forgot to eat for hours on end

-avoidance of social interactions

After the first year and ongoing coping

-periods fo social avoidance

-Workaholic and career driven

-TV, computers, and iphone - often all at the same time.

I seemed to drop the alcohol, drugs, meaningless sex, and eating disorder patterns but continued to need to cope through distraction, avoidance, and perfectionism.



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The ones I have recently identified:

  1. Smoking Weed
  2. Having Sex/Sexting
  3. Sleeping
  4. Procrastination
  5. Straight up Avoidance
  6. Loss of hunger
  7. Intentionally triggering myself
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