Harm Reduction

I learned this from a wise, older woman many, many years ago. I have changed it many times since then.  5 years ago, the woman who thought of this was left by her wife. After 30 years together, her wife just got up and left. She had fallen in love with someone else. I hope that her list came back to her and she did what she could do to get through.

This is an assignment.  For the days when you don’t want to face the world and don’t think you can get out of bed.   But do it now. That way it’s already ready for you when things feel too hard.

You make a list. The list is of the most loving thing to the least loving thing you can do for yourself.  (Least harmful to most harmful).  When it feels too hard, you go down your list and try to do the most loving thing you can.  If the first thing on the list is too hard to do, just go down until you feel willing. That way, if you are like me, you can interrupt it before you get to the destruction. I just keep going down the list until I feel I can hang on until tomorrow. I used to go to the destruction first.  It feels better to start at the top.

You have to make your own list. No one else can make it for you.


Call a trusted friend and say everything.

Take a bath.



Ask myself what I need and try to take care of it.

Write in my journal.

Write a gratitude list.

Hug my son.

Eat a meal.

Drink water.


Hug myself.

Remind myself that I am ok.

Read an inspirational book.

Go outside, Leave the house!

Go to the grocery store and talk to the clerk.

Drink five cups of coffee.

Drive really fast in the car, with the windows down and the music blaring.

Lay on the floor and cry and say “NOOOOO, It’s too hard!”

Make a batch of raw cookie dough and eat it.

Obsess about other people and their lives.

Check out and fantasize.

Stay in bed.

Stay in bed all day and watch an entire tv series.

Stay in bed all day, watch an entire tv series and eat a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Eat a bag of Lays bbq chips.

Call a therapist.

Refuse to eat or get dressed.

Pull the covers over my head and wait til tomorrow.

Start a fight with someone I love.

Try to end a relationship. Or a few.

Decide to pack up and leave my life, give up, move on.

Smoke a pack of cigarettes.

Get wasted.

Cut myself.

Find an anonymous person to have sex with.

Kill myself.

This is not to make you sad. It is actually to save yourself.

Some days the best thing you can do is hunker down and try not to hurt yourself or others.

Another woman in my life says it’s the days when we are not fit for human consumption that we have to practice extra care. Some days are like that. When I wake up and it feels too hard to be in the world or to be in my skin anymore. This happens to me once a month sometimes. Those are the days I remember my list. I start at the top.  I have not had to go to the bottom in a long time.


About the mitz

Sleep training consultant at www.Sweetdreamspdx.com

83 responses to “Harm Reduction

  1. Love this idea. Thanks for sharing

  2. This is a very powerful blog post – thank you for sharing.

    I only wish my brother’s girlfriend could have seen this a month ago before she went straight to the bottom of the list. Mental health is a topic many are too worried to touch, yet it is an important conversation to have and continue.

  3. wow! this is so inspiring and I just wanted to say that I’m going to make a list of my own now. Thank you for this idea and I will definitely give you credit when I blog my list. awesome!!

  4. I think someone once told me I should do this. I never got round to it. Perhaps it was too scary to create the list. Maybe I got enmeshed in other things… But, I might actually do this.

  5. Wow. Just found this — and just made a list similar, of all the things to do when I’m having a down day. I figure if I try enough of them, I’ll feel better. So glad you shared this, and can’t wait to see more posts.

  6. vanessareneeramos

    Reblogged this on vanessareneeramos and commented:
    I’m Really Thinking Differently.

  7. Wow, these are not the thoughts of a depressed person, this is the spirit of a warrior!
    The list gave me a thrill.. I bet each of us goes through such moments sometimes..
    How about this “it’s the days when we are not fit for human consumption”…
    we do get such days, when we feel all alone in the world, not needed by anyone and not even needed by ourselves, the self value sinks, the colors deem, but then we get up, jump back on out feet, pull on our faces and shields and go ahead.. We always get back on our feet. Thanks for the deep post!

  8. We look into the abyss and get to know it. Then the fear of it begins to fade.

  9. Mr. Purple

    Somethings people just forget some wonderful things in all their worries and disappointments… Thank you for reminding me and others of these.

  10. You are lucky to have such wise women in your life! Thank you for sharing. It is refreshing to read something so honest about a topic that so many people silently struggle with. I know creating my own list will be a powerful tool when I’m tempted to jump to more destructive coping mechanisms. Thanks again for sharing!

  11. Missie

    this is a truly inspiring post. i can only dream that making a list of my own will help me with my awful problems. thank you.

  12. this is something that many teenagers like me should read, thank you very much :)

    • brenttzu

      i just hope you didn’t take ‘Find an anonymous person to have sex with.’ too serious :) lols. but this post is indeed perky eh? cool to share ryt? :)

  13. Gonna have to try this, I think. Thank you.

  14. brenttzu

    Find an anonymous person to have sex with….. (hahahahahhahaha)
    -love this!

  15. Pingback: Harm Reduction « maizymae

  16. Depression is not a place for good planners. I think you don’t belong to the land of the unhappy. Get out of there and add “smiling” and “feeling happy for no reason” to your list as well.

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