Thursday, May 10, 2012

Personal Awareness and Self-Harm

Happy Thursday! Are you tired of Self-Harm yet? I’m fast approaching my limit so I think I’ll just do two more posts (unless you have questions that I haven’t addressed then let me know!).
The two things I want to address are:
1.      Becoming more self-aware of your self-harming behavior.
2.      How to stop or even just get through the moment.
Today let’s look at becoming a little bit more self-aware when it comes to our self-harming behavior.
This is a Self-Harm 30 Day Challenge – Since I don’t want to talk about this for the next 30 days, I’m going to jump right in and do them all briefly.  However, you should sit down with one question a day and really take the time to think about it and write as long of an answer as you can come up with in order to help yourself really get an idea of what is behind the self-harming behavior. It’s easier to overcome something when you have a fundamental understanding of what causes it. So let’s begin!
Self-harm 30 day challenge.
1. How long have you been self-harming? Discuss why you started.
            I have self-harmed for almost 18 years (not including the time I’ve been self-harm free these last 17 months). I started at a time when I was beyond suicidal ideation and was considering taking my own life. I was 13 years old. I began cutting my wrists and discovered, much to my surprise, that it made me feel better. It helped me relieve some of the pressure I was feeling and helped me cope in a way without turning to suicide.
2. What part of your body is most affected by it?
            My arms.  Followed by my inner thighs, shoulders, hips, and ankles.
3. What is your motivation to recover?
            Other people. I don’t really feel shame in doing it, but I know how disturbing it is for the people around me. Having to explain fresh wounds to someone that doesn’t understand makes me fear being rejected by them and abandoned. I don’t want to see how upset they get. I don’t want to upset them at all. I hate the feeling of judgment.
4. Do you consider yourself “addicted”? why or why not?
            Oh yes. For a long, long time I absolutely was addicted. I would think about it all day, every day, until I could get someplace where I could be alone in order to cut if I needed to. The thoughts were constant, the need for that high and release were constant. But as you can see, it’s possible to overcome that addiction and find healthier alternatives in order to cope.
5. What part of self harm do you dislike the most?
            Waiting for deep wounds to heal. When they’re just red, raw, and angry. When they look too new to explain away easily but are too healed to make them worse. And of course,  having to hide healing wounds that I don’t want to have to explain or have anyone see.
6. What about it do you enjoy?
            The release of pressure. The feeling of calm. The feeling that I’m in control of something that is happening to me. The reminder that I have the strength to make it through whatever I’m dealing with.
7. List 10 activities that help you calm down.
            Running, painting, playing with my cat, going for a walk, cooking, beating on my punching bag, talking to my sister, writing in my journal, cleaning like a madwoman, sleeping (not gonna lie, there have been times when I’d pop a Xanax and just knock myself out because I knew by the time I woke up things wouldn’t be so end of the world).
8. What the most supportive thing anyone has said to you about self harm?
            As long as it helps, that all that matters.
9. Have you ever taken pictures of your wounds? Discuss.
            Yep, lots. No, I will not post them. Because I wanted to remember. I’ll always have my scars, but I wanted to remember the rest. The blood, the raw skin, all of it. Sometimes seeing the results of what I had done was enough to keep me from needing to do it again. I can remember how I felt at the time, see what I had done, where I had done it, see the immediate result, and also see the scars that are now left; live the whole process in a picture without having to repeat it.  I don’t ever look at them now. Now, they’re just triggering.
10. How do you feel about your scars?
            I love them. I think they’re beautiful.
11. Strangest place (school, park, etc) you’ve ever injured yourself?
            I can’t really think of strange places. I know I’ve cut at school before, but in general I am in a place where I feel relatively safe and won’t have to leave soon which usually translates to my current home. I don’t want to injure myself where I don’t have the ability to clean it, bandage it, where other people will see it immediately… all those things would just make me more anxious and the whole point is to feel better.
12. Where do you keep your ‘tools’? (Your room, in a box, disposed of them?)
            My knives and scissors I always kept in my room. If I had a special knife I would hide it in my nightstand. I’ve never used razors. Other times I would use what I had available. I’ve broken glass and mirrors to use then thrown the shards away. I’ve dug my nails into my skin until I bled, so eventually I trimmed my nails or they broke? Not like I can cut off my fingers.
13. What is the biggest realization about self harm you’ve had?
            The results are permanent and sometimes you slip even when you never intended to hurt yourself so bad. It helps in the moment, but it’s not a solution. In the long run it can actually make things worse and doesn’t deal with the issues that are really causing your pain. Heal the real root of your unhappiness and the habits you develop to cope with them are no longer necessary. Why go for the quick fix, when you can ultimately achieve a permanent state of --- I want to say happiness, but let’s be honest, it’s really a more stable state of contentedness.  Life is never going to be all happy all the time. The world doesn’t work that way. But it doesn’t have to always be the rollercoaster of devastation it sometimes seems to be. That absolutely can get better. But it won’t get better unless you choose to face it and put some work into yourself. You deserve the time it takes to truly heal.
14. Is there anyone you consider to be an inspiration in your recovery?
            Nope. Myself. Sorry. No modesty there. This was my decision and I did it.
15. Do you visit any websites about self harm? If so, what are they?
            I used to moderate a self-harm recovery and prevention forum. I would help counsel people that needed help in the moment. But that’s it. Otherwise, no, I never visited sites about self-harm until I started doing some research for these blog entries. I didn’t even know what self-harm was when I started doing it. It wasn’t until years later that I heard about it and realized it was ‘a thing’. Going to those sites, even doing the forum moderation, is very triggering for me. I learn my triggers so I can NOT trip them.
16. What advice would you give to someone about self harm?
            Do what you have to do. I can’t tell you stop, and I wouldn’t even if I could. It’s a personal choice and I’m not interested in imposing my beliefs on someone else if they’re not at a place where they can cope without it. However, I would say that while I acknowledge it does help, it’s not a solution. That pain, and those feelings are going to keep coming back, which is going to cause you to keep hurting yourself, until you figure out and face what is truly creating your pain. If you want to end the suffering, instead of running from it… face it. It’s a scary fucking though, and it’s even scarier to try… until you actually start doing it. Nothing is ever as scary as we fear it will be. Find someone you can confide in, a friend, relative, or preferably a counselor and work through the real heart of what is creating your inner darkness. Once you do, you won’t need to harm yourself anymore, because you won’t be in the same kind of pain anymore.
17. Do you know anyone else who injures themselves?
            Yep. Quite a few. Many of them are also “recovered”.
18. Write a letter to the future (recovered) you.
            I’m pretty much there now, so you can do this, but I’m gonna skip it. I tend to ramble.
19. List 5 reasons that recovery is worth it.
            Less fear of rejection and abandonment.
            It’s one less way I upset the people I care about.
I don’t have to hide and isolate myself while I heal = it’s less lonely and I don’t have to always feel like I’m hiding a secret.
            Nerve damage and stitches aren’t fun and I’d rather not have more.
            There are better ways to cope, ways that actually make me feel better in the moment AND after I’m done. Running and hard exercising for instance. I burn off my energy, anger, and frustration while I’m doing it, and then when I’m done, I have an endorphin high and I’ve done something good for my body. Win-win.
20. What is the most vivid memory you have of self harm.
            I have many, many vivid memories of self-harm. You list yours, I have too many to count.
21. Have you tried to stop in the past? What are you doing differently this time?
            Success! This time I’m finding things that engage me more fully, for a longer period of time. Also, intense therapy and medication.
22. Where do you feel the most calm?
            With my sister. With Zoe. With Roommate. You might not think those are places, but the geographic landmark isn’t what matters, it’s who I’m with that does. So wherever they are is the place I feel most calm.
23. What is your favorite inspirational quote?
            Good grief, Charlie Brown. Follow my Tumblr. I post all the ones I like.
24. What are some of your main triggers? Why?
            This is a really important question! When you know what triggers you, you can work towards finding things that don’t trigger you or learning real ways to deal with them. Working with sharp objects (no, I cannot always avoid my triggers, but I can learn to cope with them), gaining weight (it’s a trigger because I feel I’ve lost control over my body and need a reminder to regain that power), when someone leaves me or says something that I think I could be abandoned for. I’m sure there’s more, but you get the idea.
25. Do you know any statistics about self-harm?
            Actually no, not off the top of my head. I sense a bonus post coming on.
26. What is something that makes you the most happy?
            My cat. Getting in a really good workout. Having time to be creative. Curling up with a good book. Making an amazing meal for people I like.
27. Discuss any and all progress you have made.
            Yeah, I’ve been doing that over the last few blog posts. Your turn!
28. What short-term goals do you have?
            Just maintenance at this point.
29. Do you follow any self-harm blogs?
            I follow some blogs written by people with other Mental Health/Illness issues and sometimes they address their own-self harming behaviors. I don’t follow anything specifically dedicated to self-harm. That’s too triggering.
30. Post your favorite picture of yourself and write a positive message to look back on.
            So it turns out I fail at MSPaint and I’m not even going to bother posting a pretend pic.
            Dear Me: You deserve way more credit than you give yourself. Be kind to me. I’m worth it.

So how about you?


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Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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