This is a diary entry from June 22, 2005. I was 16 years old. This was almost a month after beginning Prozac.
“I’m gonna slip up, I know it!! I’m always stressed out and angry and sad! Happiness is just a dream again. I always knew I could never have it! I feel like I’m ready to rip myself apart! I just hurt so much and there is no way for it to get out! I just want to go in a room and just scream and tear everything apart!!! Even then I’d still be full of anger! I can’t go from keeping everything in for 3 years then having to spill it all out and supposed to keep it that way! I can’t change like that! N, B and my other friends seem pretty happy that I haven’t cut in 25 days but I’m not!! I can’t explain why I haven’t cut. I’ve had a lot of good days but those are now past days. The days I have now just plain suck!!! They’re the type of days that you think are going to kill you, they’re going to be your last days! I don’t want to leave everyone but if it means I don’t have to deal with this pain, well, I don’t want to know if I’ll take it that far yet. I just want all of this shit to go away but it wont leave me unless I cut it away. I’m gonna start using my elastic, I’ll see bruises…not as bad as blood I guess.
I hate how I always feel like crying……”
Previously: After You Self Harm
Looking After You and Your Injury
If you have just injured yourself before doing this look at your wound. Does it need first aid?
(I’m filling out this section with just general information on how I look after myself and my injuries after I self harm.)
When you’ve dealt with the injury, think about yourself.
Do you need to be with someone, or alone?
I usually want to be alone. Since it has a calming effect I’m most likely tired from freaking out so I need to lay down.
Is there anyone who can help over the phone?
There are people I can call if I ever need to. The problem is I don’t want to bother them or even want them to know that I have self harmed. Even though my partner and I live together I will usually not tell him because I just don’t see the need to share it. I may tell him a few days or a week later which can be counterproductive because then he can’t help me through it.
What do you find helpful when distressed? (Bath, hot water bottle, TV, music etc.)
Laying down and reading. Deep breathing is also something I’m a huge fan of.
I’m going to add a part on the first aid that I engage in when I self harm.
- If I remember/care I wash with soap and water the tool I’m about to use.
- After, I apply pressure on the injury to stop the bleeding.
- I wash the wound with soap and water.
- I apply an antibacterial cream to kill any left over germs and it also speeds healing (I’ll applying this for maybe up to 3 days, twice daily)
- Once it’s healed I’ll use scar reducing oil
I’m going to use this weekend to do things like clean the house, read, write my essay and begin putting together my activism college.
I need a break.
Something cute but a tad alarming to leave off with. While waiting for my partner to come home last night I decided to get in the bath and read. He came home just as I was closing the door to get in. He knocked on the bathroom door with some force and sternly said, “Why are you in there with the door locked?” I said that the door wasn’t locked and that I was in the bath. He saw that it was true and calmed down. I thanked him for being concerned. Later on I offered that if I feel like self harming and he’s not at home I can text him and let him know, that way there are no surprises like that again. He doesn’t seem comfortable with any talk of preparing for a self harming event but I do feel it is important. I’ve been self harming long enough to tolerate the anger that may come from others when I do it but hiding the behaviour never helps.
Oh one really fun thing before I go for the weekend! I’m a “First Reads” Winner on GoodReads! The book is called, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad by Alison Wearing. Random House Canada should be sending it my way within 4-6 weeks. I’m hoping since both Random House and I live in the same city the book will be here soon! I don’t usually win things, especially when there are only a couple of the thing available so it was nice to wake up to the email telling me I had won
I’m watching a UK documentary on self harm to test myself. At times it’s been hard and I’ve almost cried but then it will fade as the documentary talks about something else more general.
A 20 year old woman who engaged in self harm said in the documentary that for some people self harm is a choice in the sense that it is something they chose to do to cope with stress.
For those of you who have self harmed or do self harm, do you think it’s a choice?
For me, self harm started as a choice. I choose to try cutting and see what happens. Very quickly though, self harm became less of a choice. Nothing helped the same way.
A Mad friend of mine asked if I would like to attend a lecture with her about nonsuicidal self injury. We’ve RSVP’ed but I keep finding myself thinking about the lecture. The following is the lecture description:
“Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) represents a critical mental health concern. NSSI has high rates of enactment, concomitance with psychiatric factors, and confers risk for varying degrees of physical injury; it may also elevate suicide risk. Accordingly, investigators need to know about a number of ethical issues related to NSSI research and ensure participants receive high quality NSSI resources at the end of research studies. This is particularly salient in the context of online research. This presentation will outline several key ethical issues in the context of online NSSI research and discuss an online outreach initiative providing research-informed and recovery-oriented resources for individuals who self-injure.”
Just seeing the term “nonsuicidal self injury” makes me feel that nervousness in my stomach. I can’t talk about self harm in detail, in particular about me personally, so how am I going to last 2 hours listening to ethic considerations involving the behaviour? This will be an event where they will not be thinking about who is in the room and what is there experience. It’s assumed that academics do not have these experiences.
I’ve emailed my friend and asked if she has any way of contacting organizers of the event to find out if there will be picture or anything else. The more information I have the better I can be prepared. This may not be a good idea at all, for me to go, but I feel it’s important that I attend in order to learn and give feedback as I’m assuming there will be a Q&A.
If I have too, I’ll step out and my friend will be there and we can mutually support each other.
Ok enough of this, I feel like I’m going to be sick with stress.
Context: 10 Months
This friend was there when I first started self harming in gr. 8 and continued to be there until she left our high school in gr. 10. She was a supportive friend and didn’t stop being my friend although many did leave because I was self harming.
“Hey I read your blog about 10 months self harm free. Even though you may have self harmed in jan and feb. you have to remember how far you have come. Don’t beat yourself up about what you did, be proud of yourself for who you have become since then. Everyone slips once in a while but look how many times you haven’t may have felt like you needed to and didn’t. This only makes you human! Try to keep your head up. Your a beautiful person. Don’t forget that!”
I still feel trapped by my self harm. I feel like I will never be seen as not being mentally ill until I completely stop the behaviour…
I should not underestimate myself. There was one time I had 69 cuts on one section of my leg. I self harmed daily and with no control and feeling. Now, if I self harm, it’s once a month and rarely over 3 cuts. I have control and feeling.
I am stopping the self harm free count.
I lapse once in January and once in February so I’m going to revamp my system.
I am going to take it month by month. I will not be adding the months together because at this point I feel like a failure unless I’m completely abstinent.
If I can go through a month without self harm I will reward myself and self reflect on why I did not self harm. If I do not make it through the month I will reward myself and reflect on why I did self harm.
March is almost over and I have yet to self harm despite two close calls.
On the last day of March I’ll get back to you all!
Previously: Before You Self Harm
How you feel AFTER you self-harm
Thinking of your most recent experience of self-harm, answer any of these you feel comfortable with:
How did you feel immediately afterwards?
I felt like I could breathe. Mind slowed down, I could focus.
How did you feel a bit later?
Like I was stupid. I became scared because I hadn’t felt that calm after self harming in a long time.
How do you feel about it now?
Nervous. I feel like I could go back to self harming actively and I do not want to.
How do you think your self-harm has helped?
It has been a fast way to calm myself down.
How do you think it doesn’t help?
It leaves my body with scars, it makes people upset with me, I get upset with myself, it is a reminder that I still fail at coping appropriately and it doesn’t work all the time anymore so I end up adding cuts and scars for nothing.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
At that moment, no I don’t think so. It really had to be done. I don’t like it but I needed something to bring me back and it did.
Sometimes I can catch it and sometimes I can’t. I couldn’t tell you the factors that go into whether I rage or not but I know it happens because I feel attacked or frustrated. Sometimes this means a rage and sometimes it does not.
What is consistent is people’s response to my raging.
I am always met with hostility back which fuels me to keep going, keep raging because they are confirming the paranoid thoughts I’ve already begun to think. Thoughts about how they don’t care about me, that I’m stupid, that I’m incapable and that I should be dead. When I’m in a rage any anger directed back to me sends me crumbling.
I try and express what I’m feeling and explain that I can’t handle what I’m experiencing on top of their own anger and that’s when the belittling begins. I’m told that I can’t expect people to be nice to me if I’m attacking them, that I’m being ridiculous, if I can’t control myself then why should they and that it shouldn’t be all on them to stop a rage.
I can agree with all of those points but I need them to understand and they simply do not. I don’t mean to be this angry! I don’t want to be this angry! It all feels so involuntary… I am left with the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am walking on eggs shells too. I cannot go into a rage because there will be no support, there will be no understanding at the time when I need it most.
I’m not at the point of where I can effectively stop a rage. I can prevent going into one but once I’m in it I’m in it for the long haul. I am confused, I am charged with adrenaline, my brain is on overdrive, my body feels like an explosive and I wish I could explode. I want everything I’m feeling to come outside of my body because I can’t take it being on the inside. This is when I scream, yell, throw things, hit people and hurt myself. I know this is wrong but words are not enough to tell them that I can’t understand what is happening, that I do not think it is fair and that I want it to stop. It feels like it will never stop. They do not understand and accuse me of wanting to make their lives hell.
What can I do when those around me can’t help? Or worse, they don’t want to because they believe I should be able to stop raging despite years of showing them how I struggle. That struggle is not seen as so, it is seen as me being childish and spoiled. That hurts me.
If I cut it is not show “prove” to you that I am in pain. I am trying to make my mind stop screaming, my body stop vibrating and the world slow down. I need to catch my breath.
I think I give up on trying to come up with solutions to help me communicate with these people. I can only do so much. They need to do their part; but their part makes them feel like my slave, that they have to take my abuse. This isn’t true and unless they change their minds we will never improve. They need to take responsibility just like they’re telling me I need too.
All I’m asking is that they ask me, at the beginning of a rage, “What are you feeling that is making you so angry right now?” and then please understand my response and know that I want to make sense of what is happening, I am aware that what I think and feel is distorted at times. Please kindly show me this.
I need to get out of my mind and body. I need understanding. I feel like I’ll never get what I need.
I am the Bitch, I am the Manipulator, I am the Attention-Seeker but I am never the one in Pain. I am the Blamed.
Today is Self Injury Awareness Day and also my littlest sister’s 15th Birthday!!!! You can’t go wrong with a Friday birthday
To celebrate Self Injury Awareness Day you can wear an orange ribbon (or just wear orange), write love on your skin and/or draw butterflies as a part of the Butterfly Project!
Unfortunately I still find self harm to be difficult to talk about so I usually do not participate in these awareness days. I hate this fact but hopefully that changes by the time the next awareness day rolls around.
I am what I guess you could call a veteran self harmer, having been self harming for the past 10 and a bit years. What can I say to those who have recently started self harming? Please go get help. I understand what self harming is doing for you but you need to find that same feeling in something else. It is totally possible because I more often than not use my other coping skills. Catch this while it’s early so you can focus your efforts somewhere else. If people are being mean to you about your self harming, I am sorry, I know that hurts and doesn’t help at all. Please know that there are many of us out there that understand why you self harm which is why we would like you to try to stop. You may not be able to do it on your own and that’s fine! Go to a parent, a friend, a teacher, a religious leader, a counsellor, anyone you trust and allow them to help you. do not do anything you are not comfortable with but do not let discomfort discourage you. Self harm can be difficult to stop but it will be worth it in the end.
To my veteran self harmers: WE ARE STILL HERE! 5, 10, 20 etc years have passed and we may be still struggling but still surviving. We have a lot to teach the world about self harm and I hope many of you can share your experiences. We also need to stop this behaviour although we are all aware how it is now ingrained in our minds, an addiction if you will. It is possible to overcome this addiction and stop hurting ourselves, adding to the hundreds, maybe thousands of scars that already cover our bodies. We are beautiful people who deserve to be loved, not just by others but by ourselves. With support from others we can overcome self harm and we can find other way to cope that are just as effective. It will take time and effort but it will be worth it in the end!
To everyone who self harms: Please practice harm reduction! Harm reduction ensures that you are limiting the amount of harm you are doing to yourself while still engaging in the behaviour. Harm reduction teaches you to care about yourself, keeps you safe and allows you to gradually stop the behaviour on your own terms. How I engaged in harm reduction was by washing my tools before and after use, cleaning my wounds with soap and water, using an antibacterial cream (ie: polysporin) to kill bacteria and speed healing and using scar reducing creams/oils (ie: bio oil) to make my scars less noticeable.
Please always be safe, know there are many out there who are experiencing self harm as well and know that YOU CAN STOP!