Self-harm is something of a taboo subject. If you’ve never suffered, or had the urge to do it the only thing you think is that people who do are stupid, attention seeking or a myriad of other insulting, ignorant notions that may come to mind.
Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not as clear cut (pun intended) as you might think. There are many forms of self harm, but the one I’m talking about today is the one that first comes to most people’s minds when they hear the words ‘self harm’ – Cutting.
I’m going to try to give you at little glimpse into my mind… thoughts of self-harm don’t always occur in this manner, this is just one example of how it ‘can’ be…
I don’t even know for sure why the thoughts began, maybe it was tension with the impending return to work, I don’t know but it began like this…
At first there would just be a fleeting, passing notion. A brief voice in my head that was saying things like ‘relief, blade, sharp, cut, blood, …’ nothing comprehensive, no full sentences, just single words. The words would be followed by a feeling, a desire – warmth, comfort, release.
As the days passed these notions became more fluid, ideas started to form. What to use? When to do it? How to hide it? Just opening the knife drawer in the kitchen would make me smile. Yet at the same time anger was building, anger at myself for these thoughts, unfortunately though this anger inflames the urges – the idea of cutting becomes a form of punishment, punishment for thinking of cutting – how twisted is this? I think of cutting, think how wrong it will be to cut, then think of cutting more to punish myself for thinking of it in the first place – talk about vicious circles!?
I know I can’t cut in obvious, visible places without being caught, it’s summer – no long sleeves to hide the slices on my arms. I’m not an attention seeking cutter, I hide what I do. It’s only when I’ve lost control completely that people get to see what I do as thoughts of secrecy have vanished by then.
I come up with ideas to cover up what I intend to do as ‘accidents’ – ‘I fell’, ‘I caught my arm on a sharp edge’ anything, everything to hide the truth – it was a deliberate cut, for no reason more than I wanted to, needed to. Relief, punishment, release, escape…
Then a ‘real’ trigger, an action that provokes my BPD. Frustrated and needing release so badly I spill out my thoughts in a text not to be sent, words not to be published – too private, too intense, too personal to share, even though sharing will ease the burden, these are not words others should read. Courageously through my tears, fear, anger, sadness and self-disgust I do share though, with one person – my fiancee. I show him what I have written, tell him about the thoughts I’ve been having, show him that somehow I have managed ‘not’ to act on these thoughts. What I wrote begins like this “I have to write this down in the hope that spilling the words will provide some relief rather than spilling more blood – my own…” I cannot share most of the rest of the content, other than it goes on about my devil and my angel – the BPD voices that torment me, screaming at me, arguing the rights and wrongs, good and bad. “We are stronger than BPD, together we will defeat it! yes, its hard, draining, exhausting, a daily roller coaster ride. Spinning, spinning, faster, harder… slam the brakes on before you crash.”
He holds me as I cry, wishing I could die, wishing the pain would stop, needing to hurt myself to be able to ‘feel’ because even though I am clearly ‘feeling’ a hell of a lot, I don’t actually believe I am ‘feeling’, emotions are a haze, what is ‘feeling’ anyway?
He praises me for sharing, this is a big step for me. Still not getting any help for my BPD, still unwell, no idea how to manage my condition, how to cope, what to do with these ‘thoughts’ but I’ve done what is probably the best thing I could do not knowing any better – I’ve told someone, before I’ve done anything. I tell him I’m scared of losing control and ‘doing it anyway’. I tell him the thoughts grow and develop, like a miraculous ‘cure’ for all that I’m suffering.
I cry myself to sleep while he holds me still. For today at least we’ve beaten the desire, tomorrow is another day. I don’t know if the thoughts will be there or if we have done enough to keep them at bay for a while. One step at a time, one day at a time. So long as I can be strong enough to share, hopefully it will be enough to stop the urges from winning… time will tell.
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- When Teenagers Cut Themselves (everydayhealth.com)
- Intentional Self Harm (head-heart-health.com)
- Deliberate Self-Harm: Cutting (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
- The Functional Model of Non-suicidal Self-injury (psychotherapybrownbag.com)