The soul behind a scale?

So, I was thinking about this design the other night after I had read a poem by inkskinned about the “screaming silence” and mental roller coasters that are unlocked when asked to rate feelings on scales of A to B. (I encourage you to go and read her poem here, it’s beautiful: On a scale of one to ten…)

Does your mind start a similar inner monologue when you are asked to rate tension (or any feeling whatsoever, or maybe like the intensity of an urge)? If that is something, you can relate to, then how do you actually answer the ‘on a scale of A to B’ question and determine a value? Do you kind of make an educated guess? Which one of the voices in your head is the one that wins and gets to say which value it is gonna be? Or maybe, does this mental process of having to decide on the level of intensity (of a feeling) help you in any way?

What if this scale actually triggers the “crazy monkey mind”/inner monologue on purpose just to distract everyone from a seemingly overwhelming urge to self-injure?

Tell me what you think.



Mirroring ahimsa in self-injury

Today, I’d like to share some random, possibly, rambling thoughts about the world of Ahimsa (and Himsa).


Gandhi translated the sanskrit word Ahimsa to the coined term “non violence” (Himsa is its counterpart = “violence”). In its original sense, ahimsa kinda means to abstain from hurting any living being, regardless if it occurred in your thoughts, your words or your actions. That includes amongst others animals and even plants. In the western hemisphere, I guess, the word is better understood in a more restricted meaning, such as just doing no harm to oneself or another. [1-2]

And if I understand it right, there is this believe that any harm you do to another person, ultimately also results in harming yourself – justifying the call for Ahimsa.

I guess, ahimsa encourages us to show tolerance and respect towards others, such as not being judgmental when we learn of a person who physically injures themselves on purpose. Which might get us into trouble a little bit because it is confusing. Can we expect others to be / or live ahimsa, when we have stopped “respecting”and tolerating our pain by harming ourselves? Maybe, this is exactly where we need to draw a line. That it is, not ok, but helpful in some sort of way to self-injure (be violent as in live himsa) and that we need the understanding of other people (ahimsa in terms of being tolerant and respectful) that might help us step out of this process some time along the way. So kind of trying to connect these different sides (the self-harm inflicted upon oneself, versus the understanding we long for from other people) as opposing viewpoints; as the himsa that needs the ahimsa from others in order to get better at some point.

So, I encourage all of us to bring a little more ahimsa (in a sensible way) into our lives and into our relationships. And also can we transform the himsa directed against ourselves into a less destructive form? Can we find a way to put the first letter in the alphabet in front of our justified (maybe not so justified) violence against ourselves, without going crazy and while still achieving a sense of relief?

[1] M. A. R. Malik, R. Z. Abbas, M. Ashraf, C. A. Rehman, Z Ahmad (2011). Gandhi’s Ahimsa- A Critical Review at the Critical Time of War against Terrorism. International Journal of Business and Social Science 2(12):114-119.

[2] H. K. Fitz (2007). Ahimsa. A Way Of Life; a Path To Peace. Gandhi Lecture Series. Center for Indic Studies. University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

Design it, baby…

Here’s a quick peek into what a feature of a mental health app supporting in the struggle with self-injury could look like.


Wireframe of a tension report, created with Balsamiq Mockups.

We want our phone to collect our level of tension several times a day. So, the system issues notifications that pop up on your screen and encourage you to report your level of tension and put down whatever goes through your head, that may have caused imbalance or explain why you are feeling that way. After sending your report, the app will feature several skills for you to try that ought to help you lower your tension.

Thus, we aim to monitor our emotional well-being and the trajectory of our urges/tension, while intervening with useful skills in order to reach, at least, some sort of balance.

How does that sound?

PS: More mockups to come. Let’s design this mental health app together <3.

Self-harm goes ambiguous ways

Recently, I’ve come across a quote by Steve Maraboli, posted by @TheArtidote on 06/02/2017 at 01:13. It said,

“One of the most healing things you can do is recognize where in your life you are your own poison”-Steve Maraboli

This quote resonated with me and it got me thinking about self-injury and how self-injury tangles itself up in ambiguity.

Yes, on the one hand, the harm we inflict on our bodies and eventually on our souls is poisonous to our very own being. On the other hand, though, it is the much needed relief we are all looking for. Well, probably I should say, it is the much needed *sense* of relief. Coz, it ain’t no real relief, babe.. So, the question running around in my head, now, was like how can one thing simultaneously be the poison as well as the salvation?

Apart from the obvious effects you leave your physical body to deal with, what’s with the ambiguity of the so-thought positive effect of self-harm after it’s done? The mind being busy and the heart filled with pain after the first couple minutes of relief have passed? The all-consuming dullness and emptiness taking all over again? What has your “salvation” left you with?

So, I guess, self-injury has some sort of drug-like effect, that does provide a sense of relief -researchers think there might be a connection with endorphins released and mood enhancement as well as lowered experience of pain (or even experience of no pain, at all) after engaging in self-injury [1]. And it kinda explains, why our brain would get wired such a way that we’d be craving for a repeat. But, nonetheless, as with any drug one is struggling with, the question remains, “how did we even end up at this point, where we felt the desire to take a substance that literally poisons us”?

And if none of the above made any sense to you (which is perfectly fine), let us once more return to Steve Maraboli’s quote, that encourages us to pinpoint the poison in our life to get better… The thing is, once it’s clear to us which parts are our poison (and during what circumstances), what is it that we do with this knowledge deeply ingrained in our minds?
[1] Klonsky, E.D., Muehlenkamp, J.J., Lewis, S.P., & Walsh, B. (2011). Nonsuicidal self-injury. Advances in Psychotherapy-Evidence-Based Practice. Ed by Wedding D., Beutler L., Freedland K.E., Sobell L.C., Wolfe, D.A. Hogrefe, Cambridge, MA.

Austria: reaching out during crisis

If you reside in Austria and you are wondering to whom you might reach out while experiencing a crisis, here are a couple of institutions. Mind, this list is not comprehensive, though, and the order is completely arbitrary:

  • 147 Rat auf Draht
  • 144 Rettung
  • 141 Ärztefunkdienst
  • 142 Telefonseelsorge (für Erwachsene) Onlineberatung Telefonseelsorge
  • 01/31 330 Psychiatrische Soforthilfe (Wien)
  • 01 / 406 95 95 Kriseninterventionszentrum (Montag-Freitag: 10h-17h)
  • 116 123 Ö3-Kummernummer (16h-24h)
  • 0800/222 555 Frauenhelpline “Halt der Gewalt” gegen Männergewalt