Self harm/Self care/Self Neglect

Taking care of myself is not something that comes naturally (or at all) to me. When I was a teenager I discovered that abusing my body let me feel in control of my emotions and manage my distress. It made sense because it made me feel better (no matter that it didn’t last long). Over the years I have learnt other ways of coping and can/do choose to use those methods if I want to. I can manage my distress in more traditional and non-destructive ways. Unfortunately somewhere along the way my belief that I am a terrible, evil, worthless person developed and has just grown stronger as time goes by. So how do I deal with this? Self harm and neglect. Again, it makes sense, why take care of something worthless, and that’s what I am, a thing, not a person. I have spent years cutting myself, covering my body in ugly scars that serve to remind me how disgusting I am. 12 years ago I started taking small overdoses of paracetamol on a regular basis – in the beginning I often made myself quite unwell but never seeked treatment and then I learnt ways of avoiding the horrendous physical reactions to paracetamol overdoses. I still do this but these days I’d have to take a significant amount to feel more than just a little under the weather although I am well aware of the potential consequences and that I am most likely damaging my body in ways I cannot see. That’s part of the draw – I know I am causing damage but no one can see it, not even me. Physical illness 4 years ago forced me in to a position where I will have to take blood thinners for life. It wasn’t long before I discovered I could use this as a way to hurt myself. All of this leaves me in a position where I spend most of my days feeling ill. I often taste metal for no good reason (not a side effect of any meds I am on), the paracetamol causes almost constant nausea and I am pretty sure I am physcially addicted to the codeine contained in the painkillers I choose to abuse.

Added to this is the fact that I do very little to take care of myself. A side effect of current medications and those of the last 18 years is increased appetite and weight gain. This makes me feel even worse about myself so I binge and make things worse. I am disgusting so why not prove it, why not show everyone? When I get ill I start to lack energy and what energy I do have goes on basic functioning. The antidepressants and antipsychotics I take have a sedative effect as does the codeine and it becomes hard to remain active. I spent 16 or so years refusing to visit the dentist, partly thanks to a sadistic orthodontist but mostly because why would I? There are physical issues I should probably see my GP about but I don’t, hoping that the pains/aches/illnesses I experience daily will just slowly kill me. I have barely bought any clothes over the last 5 years because it involves seeing my reflection which means that most of my clothes have holes or don’t fit. I don’t take care of my living environment either. As an example, I stripped my bed on Sunday but have not yet put clean sheets. I don’t clean and my stuff is strewn around my flat just waiting for me to have a burst of energy. I rarely cook these days and when I do feel positive enough to go to the supermarket and fill my fridge with something other than processed and junk food, it remains there for weeks until I find the energy to throw it all away.

I would like to get through a day without feeling like my body is giving up on me but at the same time I don’t know how to do anything other than to destroy myself. Maybe one day I will discover that I am worth taking care of but not today.

The reality of self harm

Self harm is taking centre stage in my life right now. Most of the time I am in control of it but I am most definitely not at the moment.

It’s not new, we have walked hand in hand for 17 years now. Sometimes it follows and at other times it leads me.

Over the years I’ve developed new ways of hurting myself but for the last 2 years it has gotten worse due to medication I take for physical health problems. This means that when I choose to cut, I bleed extensively.

That’s what happened last week but the effects are more than the obvious. So much more. I have destroyed beautiful new bed linen as well as recently laid carpet. I have bled through layers of clothing that despite going through the wash at 60 degrees, still smell of my blood. The mouse mat on my desk at work is stained with my blood. I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on dressings. I go into the toilets at work and all I can think about is last week and the time I spent in there trying and failing to stop the bleeding. Each time I go into my bathroom at home I remember being bent over the sink watching the blood flowing down my arms and me crying in pain – emotional pain.

No matter what I do I seem unable to get away from any of it making it so much harder to resist doing it again.

Self harm isn’t just about the physical effects, it takes over your life.

The Paracetamol Challenge

Today I read an article that terrified the life out of me. A new “craze” called the paracetamol challenge.

The dangers of taking too many (even by a few) paracetamol are well documented. In overdose, it, like so many medications, can be fatal. There is treatment but there is a limited time frame in which it can be effective. Despite the warning labels, I think it’s easy to forget this or even to dismiss it, to say “what harm can 1 extra do?”

This feels particularly personal for me. 10 years ago I made a decision to find a new way of self harming; cutting was no longer enough for me. I knew the risks, I was well aware of the potential for irreperable liver damage and how painful it is to die from liver failure, I just didn’t care. In fact it was a case of “bring it on”. For a period of time I took small paracetamol overdoses on a regular basis. I wasn’t trying to kill myself, I wanted pain and damage, but I also didn’t care if death was the outcome. It eventually landed me in a psych ward and I managed to curb the behaviour for a period of time. But not for long and when it returned, it of course came back worse than ever turning me into someone really sneaky, someone I don’t like.

Overdosing on cheap shop bought paracetamol is nasty. When it comes back up all you can taste is powder and for me, it involved spending hours curled up on the bathroom floor. So obviously I decided to try something else. I have suffered from migraines since I was a teenager and around this time, they got a lot worse so I was taking a paracetamol based painkiller that handily included an anti-nausea ingredient. It wasn’t long before I was taking double the daily dose everyday, which turned into 10 and then 12 tablets. It let me self harm in an invisible manner so no one could accuse me of attention seeking and I knew it was probably still causing damage.

This has gone on for about 5 years now with periods of abstinence. Sometimes it’s worse than others but I am making an informed choice – albeit a pretty dumb one.

What I will say is that it without a doubt the worst decision I have ever made and I am sure it will kill me one day. This is why it’s so hard to read about the paracetamol challenge. I urge anyone out there taking part in this to stop and think; think about the consequences. I ask anyone contemplating overdosing on paracetamol to seek help now.

Looking after oneself

My mum worries that I don’t take care of myself. Beside the obvious self harm, she is right. I don’t eat well, I ignore physical health concerns and I drink too much.

I have pondered what she said for a while but it was only today that the answer came to me in a lightbulb moment.

To take care of yourself, you have to believe you are worth taking care of. I know it’s pretty obvious and I guess I knew it – just couldn’t articulate it.

I don’t think I have ever believed I was worth taking care of – by me or anyone. The phrases self care and self soothe (phrases my therapist uses much to my disgust), make me really uncomfortable. The whole idea of looking after myself seems to me like a selfish thing. Anyway, if I thought I was worth anything, I would probably never have started to self harm.

10.38pm

It’s 10.38pm. I’m sat in front of my mirror sat in my pyjamas crying, hating my reflection. Hating it so much, I want to smash the mirror. I won’t. Good girls don’t do things like that.

Today I got up and went to work. I had a relatively productive day and despite working 8 1/4 hours as opposed to the 6 I am meant to, I managed to leave the office by 4.30 and head home to see a friend whose back from travelling after 3 months.

I had a lovely evening. I’ve had a few drinks and am perhaps a bit tipsy. I am not wasted however. I know I can trust my feelings. How? Because even though I’ve had a “better” day, it has still included self harm. The day is not yet over and there is more self harm to come.

My wrists ache and my scars itch. I need to hurt myself. Why? Because I feel disgusting on the inside. Because what I see in the mirror is disgusting. I need to mark my body so that it matches.

I have taken a bag from my bedside drawer. In it is a tupperware box full of pill packets and bottles. All different colours, they remind me of a bag of sweets.

I know what the trigger is – apart from the crap that I deal with everyday – I just can’t write it down. I am too ashamed. It’s not something I have ever admitted to anyone and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to.

So, I’lll sit here, cry some more. Hate me a bit more and hurt myself a whole lot more.

It’s the only thing I am good it. It’s all I am worth.

Change

As a general rule, I am really not good with change. It throws me and then I start to panic.

I have just seen an email about massive changes happening at work. I find it frustrating as the changes are basically going back to the model we used to use. I can see that there may be a chance for me to progress into the area I want to but I’d still rather not go through the changes.

Tonight it feels as if it’s given me the go ahead to self harm. I’ve been wanting to for days but haven’t for some reason. This feels like a good excuse.

 

 

Sad

I feel sad. I haven’t had the best time of it over the last week. I kind of self harmed last week after 3 weeks of not. I had a good chat with my CPN about today. Do I need to worry about it or just accept it for what it is. We talked about alternative options, including talking to friends. The reality is that there is only one friend I would talk to about it but if I am honest then I don’t want to and I won’t. It’s not her, it’s about me and my fucked up thought processes.

My therapist asked me last week what I wanted to work on. I hadn’t realised that we haven’t really looked at any particular issues since last year – “you’ve been too ill” was what he said. We agreed to go back to the big issue – my belief that I am a shit person. That’s all well and good but it seems as if every time we go down this road, I can’t handle it, my distress levels sky rocket and self harm increases. I don’t think there is a safe way of dealing with it but equally it HAS to be dealt with.