http://www.dsm5.org has been a source of irritation for me and it has been for many other people within the mental health field. When I stumbled across the proposed disorder of Non Suicidal Self Injury I was at first outraged! “Of course! Here’s another things to make me and other people fucked up!” I knew I had to blog about this eventually but I began to realized I didn’t know what I thought about a non suicidal self injury disorder.
I first began cutting when I was 13 years old. It was my response to feeling horrible about myself. My peers at school were very mean, letting me know regularly that I wasn’t good enough. Cutting for me was and is the same as someone using yoga to relax. Cutting was punishment, relaxation, expression, a recreational activity. It was everything to me. As I’ve gotten old and have learned new coping skills cutting is now a last resort for me. I possibly do it once a month instead of daily. I’m very proud of this accomplishment especially when I thought I’d never be able to stop. I had always thought that cutting and other forms of self harm where symptoms of a bigger problem, a mental illness but this addition of non suicidal self injury changes the story.
The idea of a separate self injury disorder isn’t new to me. When I was in my 3rd year of university I wrote an essay entitled “Understanding Self Injury” for my social work practice class. This was my chance to tell them facts and share bits of my story. While researching I found an article called “Self-injurious Behaviour as a Separate Clinical Syndrome” by J. Muehlenkamp. One important piece of information has stayed with me from this article is that identifying self injurious behaviour as its own entity could improve treatment. Currently self injury is predominantly associated with depression and borderline personality disorder. Self injury is actually a symptom of BPD. I have been thrown into both categories and it’s mostly because of the cutting I engaged in. We cannot go off of one behaviour to make our diagnosis. The scant research done of self injury has shown that for some they do not actually qualify to depression or BPD but because we have nothing else they are put in those categories.
Non suicidal self injury disorder could be exactly what those who self injure need to begin building new, positive coping skills. This could lead to specialized care which is so greatly needed in treating this sometimes addiction.
On the other hand this new diagnosis makes me scared. I could easily be diagnosed with non suicidal self injury disorder (http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevision/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=443#). I find it a horrible reminder that I may smile more than I cry and feel I have myself under control that there are a few things about me, such as my self harming behaviour, that will keep me trapped in the mental health world. It makes recovery seem even more far away that. As I said earlier, I am cutting possibly once 1 month. This new disorder only requires a minimum of 5 days a year of self injurious actions……my progress is disordered.
I can’t get too down about it though because it’s not like I’m going to go to a psychiatrist to double-check on my sanity. I don’t care what they think. I am proud of how far I’ve come and I hope that those who receive this diagnosis in the future are helped in the ways that I wasn’t.
We’ll have to wait and see how this goes. How the whole DSM 5 goes.