Category: Self-Injury


Why Self Injure?

I do not know if i can help anyone understand it…. It’s about expression as much as anything. Feeling so overwhelmed that your head is spinning and everything is a blur, all emotions clouded. You try everything else to ease the stress, the tension, the need to explode: writing, singing, blaring loud music until your ears bleed, running outside, doing cartwheels like an idiot, holding ice, shredding paper, everything else you can think of. Still, there is no relief, no outlet. It’s gruesome and horrid, the idea that the only thing which makes you feel alive, sane, is the one thing that could kill you, steal away your breath and it would be an accident. It’s shameful, morose, the way the whole addiction works, and you get this high from it that nothing else gives you. That’s why you do it again, and again. In those moments, as the red river flows, adrenaline surges through your body and it feels almost euphoric. For once, you don’t feel numb. Guilt follows, you know it’s dangerous, wrong, addictive, stupid, but it’s the only way you can express and let out the anger, frustration, stress, depression, anxiety. So you keep going back and the blade becomes a friend. The river flows deeper, into an ocean. The arteries become damaged, and eventually, you go too far. Whether you come back from that abyss, I know not. I only know that fighting against the current of desire, against the impulses, puts it off, but not forever, and then it’s worse than before. So, if it helps, and if delaying that help causes more danger, more damage, why not just do it and get it over with?

I spent the better part of the afternoon in the psychiatric section of the trauma unit. Fun, huh? Not exactly!

It’s a long story and I don’t really feel able to share the details right now. But if you could, hold out some good thoughts for me. I have a meeting in the morning to follow up and hopefully get some medication to overcome this darkness.

I always tell myself that when I am hurting the most, that is when I need to reach out. So, with humility and hope for receiving compassion, I am going to share about the last few days.

The last few days I have been seriously struggling with my urges to self-injure. I have an interview for a job coming up mid-week, and I need my arms clear of marks. Since I could not resist the urge or compulsion to cut, I found a new spot, one less visible. The problem is that I cannot get the same relief from it. And I have to make a larger number of cuts to feel any relief at all. So for three days I have been injuring in this new place and last night I became really frustrated with myself.

In my desperation to make my world stop spinning, to feel grounded, to stop the pain in my heart that just wouldn’t quit, I took a large amount of pills and crawled into a bed. I woke up some hours later feeling dizzy and disoriented, but surprisingly not at all ill.

Saturday evening when I began feeling extremely low, I called my therapist and left her a voicemail. I knew that she would not receive it until today, but I reasoned with myself that at least I had attempted to do other things before I gave in to self-destructive behaviors.

I feel very groggy and everything seems to be moving in slow motion. The numbness is unreal. My whole body feels slightly tingly, but my emotions are almost completely absent today. I have a slight headache and am rather irritable.

I finally caved in and ate something. I was trying to avoid it in case I became nauseous, but that side affect is entirely absent from my system thus far. Remarkable really.

So here I am, with my mind barely here and my emotions nearly dead, writing this out. Some might call what I did a cry for help; others might call it a need for attention, but I don’t believe it was either. I believe I was trying to just make the world silent for a few minutes. It worked. I slept last night, almost an entire 6 hours. I’ve only been getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night this past week, so six straight undisturbed hours is a major accomplishment.

One of the things I am doing to help with my awareness of my mental state is to keep a mood chart. It tracks my highest and lowest moods, anxiety and irritability levels, medications, sleeping patterns, and level of functioning throughout the month. Since starting this chart on June 1, 2010, I have already noticed that my depressive state is much more dysfunctional than my heightened state. What I mean by this is that when I am in an elevated mood, I typically do not experience non-functioning days. I am able and zealous about taking care of my home, self, and family, almost to the point of being overbearing and over critical. I am certainly productive and even run myself ragged in those elevated moments.

In contrast, my depressive state leaves me functionless. I find it difficult to shower, take care of my house, tend to my children, and be a good wife to my spouse. I struggle with daily tasks that are seemingly insignificant on  good days but feel insurmountable on bad ones. For example, taking a shower becomes a dreaded chore, and playing with my children exhausts any energy I might have left over from the last time I was in an elevated state. It is as if any movement depletes me of vital life energy on those dark days. I struggle with feeling numb, and yet crying for no apparent reason. I stare at blank computer monitors and tv screens and see nothing but a blurred box. I become a shell, not a life. Depression looms over me like a thick grey cloud threatening rain.

So if the depression renders me useless, how do I find my way out of it? This is one of the things I want to discuss with my therapist at our next session. I know there are things I can do to help myself not feel so depressed, but they all seem to just be distractions and not a real “cure” for getting out of a depressive state. I journal; I write here. I force myself out of the house with my children. I call friends. I make myself do things that bring me joy most of the time in hopes they will stimulate less threatening emotions. I tickle my children because their laughter is contagious. I draw; I scream, I cut. I don’t know if any of this really helps. It does for the moment, but not for the long term.

Perhaps life is about the moment. Taking each moment and overcoming it, enjoying it. Perhaps if I can string together a dozen successful ways to overcome depression and do them all back to back I will steal an hour of joy from my sorrow. It’s just a thought. For this moment, it is all I have. Best wishes on your healing journey. ~ss

Well hello WP friends and viewers!

Been gone a while.First I didn’t have internet connection, then things in my world were a whirlwind. Now, I’m trying to get back in the groove. You can consider this an “all things shattering update.”

Therapy- It’s going about as well as can be expected. I’ve had two therapy sessions, and I’m feeling slightly more comfortable with my therapist. The bulk of our meetings thus far has been about my current situation in my marriage. It has been difficult to face the reality: I am in an abusive marriage. But, at the same time, realizing it means that I can a) bring it to my spouse’s attention so it can, hopefully, be handled and our marriage can be made stronger b) not hide inside myself and accept the abusive behaviors any longer.

Next week in therapy we are supposed to talk about medication and my psychiatric evaluation from two years ago. It will be nice to have a break from discussing my marriage, and give me a little down time in trying to deal with all of this. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. 😉

Self-Injury- I made it sixteen days without cutting. Then I fell. It was really bad. I don’t usually cut so deep. But I couldn’t seem to get the red to stop flowing. It took lots of constant pressure. It still is not healed, but is getting a little better.

I am battling this compulsion with everything I have. Last night I wanted to cut so badly, felt so triggered. I did just a small one, and then forced myself not to do it more than that. Instead I called a friend. It didn’t really help me not think about cutting, but it kept me occupied in some capacity, enough to not cut. I took some Tylenol pm and laid down on the living room floor. I fell asleep there.

Sleep & Nightmares- I’m not sleeping well at all. The last few nights, excluding last night, I have only managed 2-3 hours of sleep each night. Last night I passed out on the living room floor and slept 8 hours. That would have been great, except that even when I do fall asleep I’ve been waking screaming and crying from a bad dream.

The dreams are awful. Many of them are about the self-injury going too far. A few have been about my abuse as a child. It’s hard to know what is real and what isn’t. Most of the time the dream is scary or tragically sad. I wake up feeling on edge, my heart pounding in my chest. Often my spouse has woken up from the crying, screaming, etc.

Binging & Restricting- My eating is out of control. Last night I ate a whole jar of pickles- gag. If that wasn’t bad enough, I prefaced it with a bowl of ice cream. Just two hours earlier I had eaten chick-fil-a for dinner. Its so bad. I wanted to get so sick last night but just couldn’t do it. Too many people around. Restricting would be so much better.

Depression- I’m still really depressed and some days I cannot function. I struggle to get dressed and take care of myself. It’s so difficult. I’m trying every day to get up and shower and do at least one chore around the house. But still it’s not enough to pull me out of this funk. I try to take my children places and do things with them, and for those moments I am okay, but once we are home the cloud of darkness overshadows me again.

Well, I think I’ve written enough on all that’s going on with me. Just wanted to catch anyone up who might be reading and wondering. I wish you all well on your journey towards healing. ~ss

Stigma, lies, misinformation, misunderstanding. We deal with these ills every day. The person who suffers from schizophrenia, the man homeless and insane, the self-injurer, the rape victim. But how often do we stop and ask if they need help? How often do we reach out a loving hand or a strong arm to those who feel so alone, isolated? The truth we don’t like to face is that many of us don’t, ever. Sure, there are those in high serving professions like nursing, counseling, and other mental health related fields, but what about the rest of us?

I’ve lost more friends to suicide than I care to share about here. That’s not what this place is for, but I think something needs to be said somewhere. I couldn’t help them any more than I can help myself, but I tried anyway.

I never write anything here for sympathy, so please don’t tell me you’re sorry. Understand, that there are people in the world who need a friend but have no one to ask to fill such a role. Reach out to the hurting, the destitute, the socially unacceptable. Write love.. maybe not on their arms, but on their hearts.

 I write love every day. I write it over my own scars, over my own pain, on  the mirror I gaze into every morning. I’m still fighting this fight. I’m still struggling in this war against my own self-destructive tendencies, but I’m still here. For today, I will be thankful for that. For today, I will reach out to another struggling along side me. For today, I will count the scars on my wrist and remember all the times I didn’t die but could have. For today, existing is enough. Perhaps tomorrow I will find the courage to live.

Well, I did it. I went. I think it went okay. It wasn’t overly emotional, but there were a few tears.

I handed her 8 pages of my journal- my admitting stuff about my marriage, nothing graphic- nothing detailed, but just general admittances. I feel abused, I feel used, whatever…

She wants me to keep journaling. She asked me to abstain from alcohol and self injury, but told me to call if I had a really hard day.

We touched on lots of subjects- the different kinds of abuse I went through, the time periods, my seizures, my previous counseling, my marriage, etc.

She answered all my questions and I feel comfortable enough to meet her again next week and have given her those pages from my journal.

I don’t really feel anything right now… It’s the numbness taking over again, but I feel like in a few days I might be able to listen to what I shared. Right now. I’m just glad to have one appointment behind me and another one scheduled.

I did feel very very anxious the whole time, but she was gentle and made sure I was “okay” before I left the office.

Living can be painful. Isolation makes it worse. Being busy is a coping mechanism. Being stagnant is self-defeating. Healing requires effort. Pain requires darkness. Injuries require air and light to mend, and maybe a bit of neosporin. Hiding is exhausting. Blood is red. Depression is black, or “blue like jazz.” Happiness is yellow like a beaming ball of sunshine. My friend is yellow. I am black, well maybe midnight blue, but close enough to black. Knives cut. Glass shreds. Skin scars. Hearts ache. Eyes cry. Lips part. Voices possess the power of silence and sound. Music weaves light and dark, noise and quiet, rhythm and tone. Words hang in the air, thick like molasses, sticky too. Friends disappear and reappear like an illusion at a magic show. Blackness of night morphs to morning’s rosy skies. Scars toughen the soul. Life continues.

No Major Tests Yet- Triggers!

Okay, so it occurred to me late last night as I was crawling in to bed that since Sunday, I have not faced any major tests yet. I have not been overly triggered by my spouse, my children, or any outside circumstances in a few days. But what happens when later tonight I’m feeling anxious about my first counseling session tomorrow? What happens when my spouse says something that makes me feel out of control? Or when I meet my counselor and something triggers me? Then what?

That’s when the hard part comes in. That’s when it’s going to take everything inside of me not to resort to previous ways of coping. That’s when I am going to have to lean on my support system, which still isn’t all that established. It’s NOT going to be easy in those moments. I know they are coming. I am preparing for them, like one might prepare for war, or famine, or a job loss.

How will I cope in those moments? Will I shout, scream, pull my hair? Will I cry as the blade finds familiar paths? Will I sit in a tub of bubbles and watch the candle flame dance as it sears my skin? What will I do? Those are the moments that will show whether I really am ready to move forward. Those are the moments that will either push me one step forward or many steps back. Those moments define my willingness to change. Those moments highlight my strengths and weaknesses.

So, I need a plan, a way to combat the thoughts in my own head. First, I will call someone and talk. Maybe I will write in my journal or draw on my skin. Maybe I will color with my children or listen to some loud bleeding-ear music. Perhaps I will go for a walk or make soap. The point is that I will need to do SOMETHING, something other than injuring myself. Something positive. Something that will bring me hope instead of shame.

This road is not an easy one to walk, and I’m not going to pretend it is. But it will be worth it in the end, to keep on pushing forward towards hope, towards a better life. For me, and for my children, this makes it worth the hardship and pain of healing.

As always, I wish you health and comfort on your own journey towards healing and wholeness. ~SS

DAY 2- Monday May 17, 2010
(May contain RELIGION and SELF INJURY TRIGGERS)

I took time for me today. I went to a local coffee shop and read lots and spent some time thinking (and praying). I wrote out lots of stuff about overcoming self-injury.

I have not self-injured since Saturday evening. I threw out my “tools”when I got home from church yesterday.

I listened to some good music at the coffee shop, wrote lots in my journal specifically about my relationsp with my spouse. I am seeing more clear than I have in months.

I’m still really struggling with depression, the impulses, and the anxiety, but this is a step in a positive direction. I made a list of what I will/ will not allow in my life any more. All these things are giving me little doses of strength and control back. Each realization or action pushes me one step further away from the ledge. It feels good.

I am glad that I reached out, even if I didn’t intend to. It was the weirdest moment ever. My Pastor came to me and asked how I was; I said “I’ve been better.” He asked what was going on…. and I pulled up my sleeve. I thought for sure I would be judged, condemned. But instead, I found love… and acceptance, not chastisement. They spent an hour with me…. talking, praying, but MOSTLY JUST LISTENING Smile

Supposed to send Mrs H an email on Wednesday and let her know how my week is going. She said I could call if I got really edgy and needed someone to help me through it. WOW!