Self-Harm: The Facts Behind the Pain

**Trigger warning: Self- harm is discussed in this post. Please keep this in mind while reading.**

There is a limit to how much pain that one can take. Once that limit is reached, one turns to things that can be self-destructive. They may be hurtful, but the pain recedes or goes away, which is the main idea.

These methods can include sex, over/undereating, drinking (my former favorite), exercise, and even self-harm. This means cutting, burning, or otherwise deliberately hurting oneself to relieve internal pain. Self-harm is not meant to be seen as a weakness in someone’s personality.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

People are not superheroes and are not meant to be unless you are Chris Evans in a Marvel movie. Even then, he is in a challenging role. He had to physically train and rehearse lines for months before even starting to make the movie he was in. It’s emotionally and physically draining.

Pain can hit at any point in life- childhood, adolescence, adulthood. Even with the best coping skills that therapy can provide, they can become ineffective in the face of triggers. I have friends that struggle with thoughts of self-harm.

One has not self-harmed in almost a decade and I am so proud of her. That’s a lot of hard work and determination. I also know that she has faced a lot in that time and it takes strength and courage to not fall back into those patterns. As Scott Weiland once said in “Sour Girl”, “I was a Superman, but looks are deceiving”.

Jake once asked me if I was self-harming because I got a tattoo and piercing at the same time. Admittedly, I was in a rough emotional state. I told him no, I just wanted to get the pain of both over with because I happened to have the money for both. (Bad idea- do not ever get a tattoo and tragus piercing on the same day. 8/10 on the pain scale.)

There is a lot of shame and sadness in self-harm. Many who do so hide it because they don’t want to talk about the scars or why they do it. They may wear long sleeves or pants in summer, have scars they don’t want to discuss.

There is a wall up to keep outsiders away because they are afraid to trust others with their feelings. I will not discuss how self-harm occurs, because that may be a huge trigger, but I will discuss the reasons behind it and how someone who does self-harm can get help.

The Reasons Behind the Pain

Many of those who self-harm begin to do so around ages 12-14. They do so to feel more “alive” instead of feeling “numb” as they normally do. Four main reasons include:

  • Physical pain takes away emotional pain. Some self-harm for a short amount of time, some do so for years. The release of self-harm is almost instant and can become addicting. That feeling can lead to longtime harming.
  • Many are their own harshest critics. This can be a form of self-punishment for feeling like a failure.
  • This can be an alternative way to let out pain when usual ways are not allowed. If a child is not allowed to safely let out their emotions, self-harm might become the only way to signal that something is wrong.
  • Trauma can come out in many ways, including self-harm. This may be a way of controlling the pain.

This information was found on Psychology Today

How Can You Help Yourself or Someone Else

It can be scary to take that first step in getting help for self-harm or anything else.

If you are the one that needs help:

  • Confide in someone. If you have someone you trust, talk to them. This can be a text, phone call, or sitting in your home over pizza. Just talk.
  • Let them process. It might be a bit of a shock.
  • Identify your triggers. Do you tend to self-harm when you are alone? Frustrated? Sad? Make a list, including people you can talk to when you feel like you may want to self-harm.
  • Find new coping skills. If you self-harm when you are feeling sad, find new skills for when those moments hit. This applies to other emotions.
  • Find professional help for this issue. A therapist can help you with urges, coping skills and more.

If you are the person that wants to help someone else:

  • Remember that they are not trying to get attention.
  • Don’t judge the person.
  • Learn about self-harm and the reasons for it.
  • Offer support.
  • Encourage communication.

This information was found on Help Guide

I understand that this may be a hard post to read, but this is an important topic. Far too many people self-harm and need support. I hope this reaches someone and helps them in some way.

Resources:

S.A.F.E. 800-366-8288

Text Go to 741741

The Trevor Project 866-488-7386 or The Trevor Project

Sources like BetterHelp– this link is mainly meant for Virginia residents, but the whole site can be helpful.

Getting Out of A Bad Day Slump

Bad days happen to all of us. They can creep up on us or hit us like BAM! A bad day ahead. I don’t like having bad days, but they happen more than I like to admit sometimes. I deal with chronic pain from RA and migraines, which can be a bit depressing.

I also have anxiety and depression, both managed without medication. Like many others, I do have insecurities and other not-so-great thoughts that come into my mind and cause my days to not be so positive.

I was once told by someone that she didn’t want to be around me because she “didn’t want to be around my negativity for five minutes”… wait, what? I understand that I was in a deep state of grief at that point (late December 2015) but things weren’t that horrible.

This was a shocker to Matthew and my friends because for the most part, I try to stay positive, even when it’s hard. As Matthew said, “you light up the room when you walk in.” I had to sit and think that one out- it really upset me.

I realized that she was going through her own grief and anger towards me and the rest of the world. I eventually let that one go, and it’s on the list of reasons we aren’t friends anymore. I don’t think we have spoken since that conversation.

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Tap Into What You Love and Need

I have some tips for getting out of the slump of a bad day or even a series of bad days.

  • Create something. This can be food, playing an instrument or something artistic. Keeping your hands busy can take your mind off what is bothering you, even for a while. It can also lift the sadness by reminding you what you are capable of.
  • Try learning something new, even if it is something small. Want to learn how to sew a new pattern? This could be a good time.
  • Take a walk. Getting outside can clear your mind, fresh air also helps. If the weather isn’t cooperating, then try walking inside a mall or other indoor track. Other kinds of exercise, like yoga, pilates or cardio can help with releasing endorphins- these help you feel good.
  • Play with your hair, makeup or clothes- trying a new hairstyle, look or outfit can help boost your confidence a bit.
  • Call a family member and/or friend. Even if you talk for just a few minutes, human contact can be good. If you haven’t talked to anyone in a day or two, it can be nicer than you think it may be to hear another person’s voice.
  • Cuddle up with a pet or borrow someone else’s pet. Pets are great with helping with hard feelings. We got Tails intending to help Julian bond with something because he was having problems bonding with us. They are best friends, and Miss Purr joined us in 2016. If I’m having a rough day, I like cuddling with her. Our pets are soft and comforting. Most of the time, they like helping us feel better.
  • Do simple self-care. I’m not talking bubble baths and face masks- I mean simply taking a shower, brushing your teeth and putting on clothes. This can be difficult if you have been depressed and in bed for multiple days, so take the time to get this one task done, even if it takes all day to do so.
  • Read quotes, affirmations and/or books to bring yourself a bit of positivity. This can help your mind frame a bit.

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If you want to read more about bad days, being kind to yourself and other similar topics, please go to these posts:

5 Ways to Conquer Self-Kindness

5 Rules for Mental Strength

The Not-So-Good Days

Two Years of Sobriety

I’m here, and I’m sober.

A Bit Of A Flashback

Two years ago, I woke up from drinking for the last time- I drank until Sara and her husband, Paul, were worried that I had alcohol poisoning.

I was a bit hungover.

Not at all surprising.

I was used to this- so were Matthew and the kids. I’d been drinking steadily since 2013 and after Jake died, it only got worse. I had to escape the pain. Even with therapy, I still had a hard time seeing the days ahead of me.

I cried constantly. I was still trying to move forward from the grief. Losing a man I loved so deeply was something I never saw coming. Drinking took that pain away, if only temporarily. I didn’t realize, however, the internal damage I was doing to myself.

Dark sky

The Wake-Up Call (Literally)

It’s a well-known fact that I have RA and hypothyroidism. The journey to detect and solve both issues began with blood testing in late 2016. I have a great PCP- she later found the nodule that was removed from my thyroid in 2017, along with other issues. She knew I had been drinking but not the whole story.

I’ve met many alcoholics and addicts and not one has been super honest with their PCP if they have one.

Dr. Tobe called me herself- not her Medical Assistant, Stacey.

YIKES.

Britney Spears

I don’t remember the conversation verbatim, but let’s just say my labs looked pretty interesting, especially my liver enzymes.

You see, the liver is an interesting little piece of your body. It can grow back from being removed, injured or otherwise messed up.

In my case, as Dr. Tobe explained, if I stopped drinking right then, I could stop the damage and not end up with cirrhosis.

I saw that as a hard pass. Matthew’s best friend’s mom died from cirrhosis, and it is a terrible death.

I thanked Dr. Tobe and hung up.

Some Serious Thoughts

I’ve got kids, y’all. Nobody is grown yet and somebody’s gotta be here to get Julian to adulthood. This isn’t saying Matthew couldn’t but he knows he would be lost without me.

I don’t think I’m quite done living, so I decided to have one last night of drinking and be done. I did just that.

Wax figure Beyonce

Having a bit of sober fun

I also discussed this at great length in therapy. I won’t say sobriety is easy, because that would be a huge lie.

My liver gets tested every few months thanks to Plaquenil because it’s known to affect liver functioning. So far, it seems to be getting slightly better. This process can take years.

It’s A Hard Life

I read The Big Book cover to cover once and part of my plans for this year is to read it again. I’ll be tracking that reading in my bullet journal.

The 9th step talks about amends and making then except when it would hurt the person to hurt more. This one has been hard. I’ve apologized to my kids, Matthew, my friends and even my mom.

Jordan is that one person I hurt terribly. I wasn’t sober when I attempted to apologize and I am almost certain he wouldn’t hear it now. He’s Jake’s younger brother, the one whose now ex-girlfriend I seriously upset.

I never meant to hurt him- you couldn’t pay me to. I’m hoping one day he realizes that and maybe we’ll speak. I haven’t seen him since Sara’s mom’s funeral in May.

This is the kind of thing that happens in alcoholism and addiction. I know I’ve tried and that’s the best I can do. I also know he’s okay and that’s enough for me.

I struggled a lot with apologizing to my kids and not feeling like a good mom. I’m a lot more present these days. They’ve brought me all kinds of stress, but that’s how parenting works.

The Sober Life

Relapse is part of recovery. I’ve come close. I’ve had horrible days in which all I want to do is go to the closest store and grab a bottle of vodka, but I’m able to talk myself out if it.

I remind myself of the progress I have made. My kids haven’t really said it but I know they’re proud of me. I would lose that progress the minute I opened the bottle or took a shot. That would be heartbreaking.

I also know one wouldn’t be enough because I would become horribly depressed.

Also, I’m pretty sure that alcohol doesn’t agree with my meds.

I recently joined a 12 Step Yoga for Recovery class and I love it. I realized that I needed a bit more support, plus, yoga is great for me. It helps a lot and I look forward to each class.

Two years has gone by so quickly! I still take this one day at a time- it’s what works best for me.

Photos courtesy of Pinterest

Other pics are mine.