It’s been 2 months and a bit of just gradually falling.
I want to cut. I can feel my skin crawling and my stomach is in knots. I’m trying to remember everything I’ve learned and practice but the thoughts are becoming so invasive.
I’ve put in some meditation music while I type this to see if it helps.
I need to tell Michael. I haven’t fully let him know the extent to which I’m feeling.
I would just like to cut and get it over with. I wouldn’t let it count against the progress I’ve already made. If it’s only once it wouldn’t help me to put myself back at square one.
I’m also thinking about other ways I could harm myself that wouldn’t involve cutting because then I wouldn’t even feel like I slipped at all.
I have never experienced a drug withdrawal (minus some shakes and a cloudy mind when I came off Cipralex) but it feels like my body is going into withdrawal. I want that to shut off. I want to stop the crave.
Shut it off.
I do have unstable self image.
As soon as something goes wrong, like if I don’t get my way, I suddenly start thinking about how I am nothing. I get that voice in my head that tells me I’m worthless, a horrible person, that no one loves me and everything in my life is wrong. Then the thoughts of self harm appear full force.
Every door closing I hear as a slam. Did I do something wrong?
Every second they’re not smiling means that I am failing.
Everything is wrong and it’s because of me.
Self absorbed much?
The image that comes to mind is a person drowning. I’m in the middle of a deep lake (since I don’t live near an ocean), the waves are rough and the water is getting in my mouth making it difficult to breathe. There is no boat to save me, nothing in the water for me to grab on to so I struggle.
So far I haven’t sunk.
I feel completely stupid and I wonder if I’m being over dramatic but I have just been gradually going downhill since I stopped taking Alesse (Goodbye Alesse). I know that medication can do messed up things to you so I don’t see how I could struggle to accept that birth control caused my rages. I defined myself by those rages, by the power they gave me.
There is a strong possibility that I just can’t accept what’s happening. I can’t accept that on my own, no medication in my system, I will be low.
The anger was a barrier. When I became upset I would think about throwing things, yelling, anything that was external. Now everything is turning in. That’s why I’ve been fantasizing about self harming more. Every time I cross the street I imagine getting hit by a car. Literally every time.
I’m not acting, do not worry. It’s just what’s floating around in my head.
I always feel hypocritical when I blog about self harm because I am still not able (and may not ever be able) to read posts by others on the topic but then I write mine and expect some people to read it. This post though is more about a coping technique that I use in my most dire moments that may be helpful to others so I guess it’s not that bad.
In about 13 days it will be half a year since I last self harmed. As I have written over the past month, with my “fire” (as I’m calling what my birth control gave me) it was very easy to release what was painful inside me by yelling and causing a lot of outside destruction (ie: throwing things, punching things). Since my fire is gone I find myself low or indifferent most of the time and it has been easier to become sad resulting in the odds of falling back on previous unwanted coping techniques increasing.
A few nights ago I wanted to self harm but I did not and that is because of my red pen.
The trick behind why a red pen can be used in a harm reduction approach to self harm is simply because blood is red and so is the pen. The difference is the pen will wash off and a cut will not (duh).
This coping technique will obviously not work for everyone and when you are deep into your self harming behaviour it may not work at all but might later.
Using red pen as a deterrent from cutting is the visual. When I was actively cutting I never experienced pain which was most likely caused by the adrenaline and all that coursing through my body at the time I was self harming. The visual became very important and what I wanted. I am, now, able to get a similar sense of satisfaction by drawing on myself with red pen. I may be even more satisfied because I know I can wash it off later, it won’t stay there as a horrible reminder.
I can admit that it is taking a long time for me to not associate painful coping techniques with being ok but I have no doubt I can get there eventually or just learn to live with constant distractions. Self harming was a massive part of my life for almost half of the time I was alive. This will be a process.
On Wednesday I picked up a copy of the Toronto Star at work. The front page headline made me stop in my tacks:
The headline is in reference to a woman who’s dismembered remains were found in Peel Region and Scarborough this past week. Absolutely horrible and I hope her family and friends can overcome this tragedy!
What stopped me was the blatant need for the Toronto Star to emphasize this woman’s mental state. Do only abnormal people find themselves in situations where murder is a possibility? Personally I would say no still taking into consideration that people with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violence.
I read the article which basically talks about how no one suspected this women of being involved in anything that could have led to her death. Her employer was quoted as saying, “Her life was good enough that she opened her own business…Of course we are all sad…she was a nice, normal person. She wasn’t a whacko.”
She wasn’t a whacko.
I immediately thought of 3 things after reading this:
- Why was her mental state relevant?
- Only “whacko’s” find themselves in trouble?
- If she was a “whacko” would people not be sad?
I have been having an extreme love/hate relationship with the Toronto Star. I participated in their teen suicide series last December and it was a pleasant and supportive experience. Any mental health topics outside of their little “it gets better pieces” and they fall into stereotypes and discriminatory language. I have written to them before about this but they have not responded.
Here’s a recent update on the case: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1246933–dismemberment-victim-lived-in-fear-refugee-documents-show
Lately, I have been thinking about my experience with anti-psychotics.
Most people don’t know that I’ve been on an anti psychotics but I was put on Zyprexa (Olanzapine) about 3 or 4 months after being diagnosed with dysthymic disorder (combined with Prozac, antidepressant). My psychiatrist told me that the drug was to help me sleep but was not a sleeping pill. I still do not understand fully what he meant by that. It’s possible that he meant it is not marketed as a sleeping pill but it will make me sleep. Can you do that? In psychiatry you can because Zpyrexa is also only FDA approved for use in schizophrenia and bipolar…not dysthymia.
When I research “Zyprexa” and “anti-psychotics” I find words like:
I can’t relate to any of these words! So why put me on it?
My research for this post led me to a list of off label uses for anti psychotics:
Treatment resistant depression
Autism spectrum disorders
Pervasive developmental disorder
Again, none of which I can relate to!
Maybe my psychiatrist believed I had “treatment resistant depression” but never told my parents or I? He didn’t tell us a few crucial details.
Anti psychotics have been deployed as antidepressants, anti anxiety, mood stabilizers, cognitive enhancers, anti-aggressive, anti -impulsive, anti-suicidal, and hypnotic (sleep) medications.
And there is my answer. These drugs are being used for sleep.
I was on a low dose of Zyprexa, 2.5mg. I would take 1 half and hour before I wanted to go to bed. As the half hour mark approached I would become very sleepy and would fall into what I can only describe as a coma-like “sleep”. I slept through the whole night and would wake for school the next morning very refreshed. I can admit that I had the best sleeps of my life on Zyprexa but the odds of me being able to wake up if there was fire in the house were pretty slim.
It was Zyprexa’s “hypnotic” quality that made my overdose look worse than it actually was. I did want to die when I overdosed on Zyprexa but it was nowhere near a lethal dose but because this drug knocked me out it made me unresponsive for longer because of the amount I took. I went in and out of sleep the whole day, maybe a bit longer, I don’t know and I don’t want to ask my parents (I’ll have to check my journal later). The strangest sensation was when I was in the doctor’s office and I could hear my Dad talking with the doctor but I couldn’t respond to their questions. I could answer in my head but not with my voice. I did manage a “no” when the doctor asked me if I wanted to stay at the hospital for the night. I probably looked so stupid…
Zyprexa Fact Sheet
- Generic name is Olanzapine
- Can be taken orally or by injection
- Used for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
- Can be used in conjunction with fluxoetine (Prozac) to treat major depression
- Mechanism: D2 and 5HT 2 receptor antagonist
- Some side effects: Drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain, diabetes, akathesia, and adverse effects on fetus in pregnancy
- BLACK BOX WARNING: All atypicals may increase mortality in elderly patients by 1.7 times greater than placebo
Brett Bratten posted yesterday about a hat he saw a man wearing at a diner. The hat said “Half Crazy and Extremely Unstable”. He made an excellent point that if we switched the saying to something else, a more physical and medical issue, then the hat becomes very offensive and no one would ever wear it.
This got me thinking about an incident my friend L had in her poetry class where a fellow student described a poem as being “bipolar”. He meant that the poem was all over the place, jumping around.
As many of us are familiar, “crazy” is overly used to describe things such as music (That’s a crazy beat) or someone we don’t like (That bitch is crazy).
People, like myself, end up looking like humorless assholes when we tell people that using mental health language inappropriately isn’t funny. People have the inappropriate and wrongful use of mental health language completely ingrained in them.
What if I switched it to other terms such as nigger or fag?
Would someone describe a poem as “faggy” because it was written by a man and had a very feminine topic?
Would we wear a hat that said “Half Nigger and Extremely Criminal”?
I feel very confident that the answer would be no! Especially in the case of the term nigger which I feel so uncomfortable writing!
Using language inappropriately also helps promote stereotypes.
To call a poem bipolar because it jumps around implies that persons experiencing bipolar quickly change from manic to depressed. This shows the persons “understanding” of what bipolar is supposed to be but in fact it may not be the reality of many people who experience bipolar. There are also many other ways to describe a poem without using someone’s diagnosis as a descriptor.
To use fag or nigger to describe something is to imply that it is undesirable. While these terms can be used within certain communities as terms of endearment when used outside of those circles one needs to tread carefully because they are extremely loaded words!
All I can say to anyone who wears clothing that involves mental health language is this is not a joke. You may feel funny wearing a shirt that says “Psycho Ward Patient” but let me tell you that being in a psychiatric hospital is no joke. Being a psychiatric patient is no joke. You probably wouldn’t last in there!
I don’t understand why people would think it’s funny to “be crazy”. The emotions and thoughts I’ve experienced are no laughing matter! If you wouldn’t laugh at cancer, at diabetes or even at a cold then do not laugh at me!
(I hate the N word and the F word SO MUCH I’m sorry to have typed them but I really feel if I didn’t use the full terms then I wouldn’t be proving my point correctly. The N word is “the N word”, we whisper that word because it’s become such an offensive term but other offensive terms do not receive this treatment and they should! The fact that I need to explain myself in detail to let everyone know that I mean no offensive says a lot of this language. No one ever apologizes or regrets using “crazy” “freak” “insane” or “psycho”)
A few months ago, I think early February, I was having a chat with a friend of mine (she also has mental health issues and we do some related work together). A very personal piece of artwork was being displayed at an event we were attending at our university and she was nervous what people would think. It is a college like art piece with pictures and clippings from her journal while she was experiencing her various issues. I began to tell her the stuff I’d said and put in my own journals that would probably make people run and hide from me but that, that is apart of the illness we want to “normalize”.
BUT I quickly realized though that we aren’t really “normalizing” the dark stuff. We’re “normalizing” that we can recover and we are aware the there is some dark seeded thoughts and feelings surrounding these illnesses but no one is really talking about what that darkness looks like. I feel this is important. How can anyone help a person recovery if they can’t understand the dark side of them? We can’t ignore it.
Publicly, I have only encountered “darkness speak” once. Last year, October 2011 (I think), I attended a town hall on suicide at MTV Canada hosted by CTV’s Canada AM (the same station that did the youth mental health town hall I went to in February, Youth Mental Health Canada AM’s Town Hall For Bell Lets Talk Day) and a Canadian veteran was there discussing his very brutal suicide attempts. While everyone was flinching as he described severely mutilating his body trying to die I made little nods because I completely understood his “methods to his madness”.
I have never publicly spoken about my darkness. Have any of us really? I feel that for the most part we glaze over it, generalize, soften the blow so people don’t think we’re completely hopeless. It’s probably for our own sake and “sanity” that we don’t admit to some of our darker thoughts and feelings because it can be very scary.
Will I engage in some “darkness speak” here? Right now? I don’t know. The thought terrifies me but I think I am starting to get tired with ignoring my darkness because everyone wants the light. The “normal” people want the light so we better give it to them so they don’t lock us all up!
Ok, I’ll admit one darkness: I used to love cutting, especially my wrists. I loved seeing the blood, seeing the scabs and seeing the scars. No matter how much trouble it got me in and the pain it caused I loved it. Why would I have dreamed of giving up something that made me so happy to see?
I don’t have this darkness anymore but I will from time to time draw red lines or words on my arms and wrists and it comforts me.
There! Darkness! It is apart of the illness and I don’t want to hide it! The fact that I don’t have this darkness anymore is proof that we can improve in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours! Without the darkness I wouldn’t be who I am now. I wouldn’t know that I’m strong. I wouldn’t know certain things about myself. I wouldn’t have the respect for my capabilities, good and bad.
I’ve been wanting to get that off my chest for a while. I just didn’t know how to say it, if I wanted to or if it was appropriate.