Monday, 2 September 2013

My Struggles With Self Harm...

Hello!

Fair warning - this post may be quite waffly. It's a very personal post and I don't always talk/write in a way that is very coherent when it's about self harm.

So today I'm putting up an incredibly personal post. Now then, regular readers will know that I have no issue putting up personal posts generally, but this one is quite different. Self harm is something that isn't really talked about much still and is sometimes seen as a bit of a taboo type thing. Most of us know someone who has the odd scar on their arm but no one would ever dare flat out say "How did you get those??" for fear of it being some sort of incredibly traumatic event or something that caused said scars! It's deemed almost as rude for asking anything about things like this. I mean, I wouldn't exactly want a stranger asking me about my scars (I once had this happen to me when I worked in HMV and a customer said my arms looked liked I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards....I laughed it off and then he said "No seriously, what on earth happened??" I just suddenly found what he was looking for and got him on his way!) I'm very aware that telling someone about your self harm is actually quite uncomfortable for the other person, as most people go through their entire lives without even vaguely thinking about harming themselves if something goes wrong. A lot of people also don't realise that self harm doesn't only come in the form of physically cutting your self. It can be a huge manor of other things too, ranging from drink to drugs to actively destroying the good things in your life etc etc the list could go on and on (I've done 2 of those 3. Drugs aren't my deal, many because I have an addictive personality and I'd become addicted far quicker than your average person so it's just better to stay away completely!) I used to be very ashamed/embarrassed of my scars and spent years in hoodies hiding my arms so people didn't see my scars. When I went to uni it became less of an issue for me and I talked about it a bit more. Then I came home and eventually started dating my ex and told him about my scars in time. I found his response to them quite frustrating as he had literally no idea how to cope with this kind of thing and effectively always tried to get me to stop talking about it. This wasn't in a nasty way but it always made me feel like I wasn't suppose to talk about it. Towards the end of us dating my self harm was becoming a huge issue for me as I was bottling up lots of feelings and that never helps. After dating for 8 months we continued non-seeing each other for about a year and a half and it just wasn't healthy for me. The worst was when I'd have a fresh scar and he wouldn't mention it at all. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm going to give you a background of my self harm story as I feel this will give you a better outline to my journey...

My self harm actually started after my parents had decided to get a divorce and my Mum had found someone new (my now Fake Dad John (I hate the term step-dad) who I generally refer to as my Dad to most people now) and had moved in with him. This as when I was 15 and my first try of self harm was in the shower, with a compass and it was a triangle because I'd forgotten to do some maths homework! How ridiculous right?! Haha! Obviously the maths homework was just the breaking point really. I was having real issues with the fact that even after the divorce my real dad still showed no interest in me as a human being at all and my new father figure was really nice and caring. It seems weird that I would be so stressed out that someone would be so caring but I had never had that from a father so it was very confusing for me and I'm fairly sure I said some terrible things in the first few years really. Poor John!! Anyway, as a 15 year old I was coping with the usual hormones as well as school issues (I was barely there really because of my weird phobia of going into school!)  as well as crippling depression that I felt I couldn't talk about. It all got too much on that one day and that's when my 10 year(!) journey began. I remember feeling like it was stupid but that it also felt good to have something else to focus on rather than the mental/emotional pain.

Over the next few years it became my go to coping device. I pretty much lived in jeans, t-shirt and a hoody all year round so no one ever really got a look at my arms. It sounds weird to say that harming myself was a release, but it basically gives you something to focus on rather than all the crap that's going on in your head.....the downside of course is that afterwards you have a constant reminder of your weak moment. It became quite bad and I did go to counselling but it didn't sit right with me and I decided I could handle it alone. My years at uni were punctured with down moments and bouts of extreme self harm followed by weeks of being "fine". My friends were fairly supportive of me and would always say how they would be there for me if I wanted to talk instead, but I find it incredibly difficult to ask other people for help as it's a "sign of weakness" (I've learnt now that it isn't at all and that in actual fact, it's a sign of being strong enough to admit that you need help) One of my friends at uni did tell me that my self harm was disgusting but I just pointed out that it wasn't really much different to her getting a tattoo really  (which it totally is, but still....)

I actually ended up quitting uni during my second year out of four as the course changed in structure/content and I could feel myself becoming more and more depressed. I knew it wasn't going to end well so I decided to take some time out and work full time for a bit instead. I took full time at the job I'd had during uni and that just made my depression worse to be honest. It was a rubbish job, with rubbish hours and I used to come home and cry every night before heading off to bed. It was the worst. I then got offered my old job back at Borders, which I loved....but 2 months later they were shut down. Which sucked hard. I was unemployed for 4 months and then got a job working weekends for HMV....now then, when you're 22 and have just quit uni, working just weekends is the worst. During this time I became better friends with my ex and ended up falling in lust with him very hard. This was incredibly confusing and strange for me as I was used to lusting after boys who didn't really know me. I did go round to his a few times with plasters on my arms from where I would self harm instead of dealing with the feelings I had for him. It's pretty sad to think that i would rather cut into myself than say to someone "hey...I like you....do you like me?" This continued for a few months before he literally pinned me down and kissed me. I'll be honest, it was my second kiss ever and my first with (shock horror!) tongues (ewww....boy cooties! Haha!) I know this seems a bit odd to some people, but my utter fear of people leaving me mean that I had never let anyone in. I did try all my usual tactics with my ex but he pushed through all of them and I really started to think I'd found a really nice guy who would treat me with respect and would care for me. Ultimately I was very wrong and my confusion over how he acted caused me to have incredible self doubt and abuse self harm even more. I would never ever accuse anyone of causing my self harm, because ultimately it is my own decision, but one of the worst moments of my life was when we'd had an argument after I'd said that I was feeling suicidal and as he left he said to me "you know that thing you do where you push people away? Yeah. That." and left. I'm even welling up quite a bit as I type this as I'd told him that in complete confidence and he had just thrown one of my biggest issues back in my face. From this point I started to self harm on my body rather than just my arms. My stomach especially has an awful lot scars on it. In hindsight, I think this was because I desperately wanted him to say something so that I would feel like he cared, but he never did and that made me feel much worse...leading to more self harm... This became a vicious circle for the next 6 months and by Christmas 2012 I had spiralled into the deepest depression I'd ever been in. I couldn't seen a way out other than not making it to my 25th birthday in February and I'm incredibly lucky to have such good friends who were so incredibly supportive and caring, that it made me realise that I actually had two choices. Get better or get dead.

It was around this time that I really started to question the weird non-dating situation that was going on with my ex. We had been having casual sex for longer than we were dating. I'm about 90% sure now that he was screwing around with other people too, and that hurts so so much, but the lack of respect he showed me during that time just utterly unacceptable. I am in no way saying that I was such an amazing, wonderful and sane human being - I'm pretty sure I said some pretty nasty things during our non-dating phase, but if you can't deal with someone with depression or if you want to f*ck other people then have to damn decency to let the other person know. I had actually been gathering the courage to break things off with him but he had this nasty habit of saying he'd come and hang out....and then not turning up at all. I had made the active decision to stop self harming before my 25th birthday and when he didn't turn up yet again, and then announced via text message (what a guy.) that he had started things up with some new sap (the day after he text me saying how much he wanted to see me and spoon me - which was code for sex basically - seriously...what a guy.) and I had a prime excuse to self harm all over again. I'm so so proud to say though, that it's been over 8 months since I last self harmed and I'm so determined to stay strong for the rest of my life. I won't let crappy people or crappy situations lead me down that path again.

The feeling of wanting to self harm will never go away though. It's like any addiction, you have days/weeks where you are fine and then one day, sometimes for no reason at all, that craving comes back and it's all you can think about for the entire day. I have days where my skin feels like it's on fire almost and all I want to do is pick up the nearest sharp object and make a pretty pattern in my flesh. It sounds ridiculous, and people who have never self harmed before won't really understand how I can feel like that, but it's something that I am very aware of and now have control over. All I wanted for a small portion of time was for someone I cared about to ask me how I was. I put up with not being cared about for so long, that I was so confused when my friends at work actually cared enough to text me on days off to make sure I was ok.....and one time I was late down to work because I was chatting with a manager in the office, unbeknownst to me I'd caused a mass panic on shop floor of people going to get their phones to text/phone me to make sure I was ok! Haha! That was a little awkward to explain "oh....hey guys....what? oh...no no....I'm having a really good day actually! I was just chatting to Katie....why? Oh....god.....oh whoops! Sorry guys!!" Haha! It's things like that that make me realise that the action of one douchebag not caring is outweighed by all the people around me that do actually care about me. Granted I miss the intimacy but I would never let anyone make me feel like that again just to have that moment of closeness with them.

It's been a year since I started to seriously think about suicide and disappearing further into the abyss of depression and my life hasn't changed that much. But my attitude towards my life and the people I allow to surround me has changed so much. I'm happier than I ever remember being in my entire life, and although I know this is partly to do with the anti-depressants I'm taking, it's also down to my change of attitude and the fact that I'm determined to not allow self harm to take over my life anymore (plus, it was totally my decision to go onto the pills....so that's a win for me too right?! Haha!)

If you struggle with any issues like self harm, then I urge you to speak to someone, either someone close or someone removed from your situation (my doctor was so lovely) The key is to not suffer alone. I know it can feel like an incredibly lonely situation but you'll be surprised the support that you'll get once you open up to the people you care about. And if that fails, then I'm always here for you to vent to :)

I hope you haven't been too bored by my tales of self harm or think that I'm some attention seeking oddball (even if I kind of am! Haha!)

Until next time,
xoxo

2 comments:

  1. This was incredibly emotional to read Robyn. As you probably already know I also suffer from depression, and at one stage it was fairly serious. I was also dealing with anxiety (still am, actually) due to what happened to me, so I was living in fear for a long time.

    I totally agree with you in that it's very difficult for somebody to understand self harm, and why we believe it's an option at the time, unless you have been through it yourself or you are very close to somebody who has been through it.

    Well done on writing this post, it was inspiration to read your journey. I'm glad to hear you are on the right path now, but know that if you ever need to talk about depression or self harm, or just anything, you have my email :)

    Much love sweety xx

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    1. I had very bad anxiety to go with my depression too. I couldn't walk down the highstreet without my hoody, headphones and head down. I'd get severe heart palpatations if I had to go anywhere I didn't really know alone. It's absolutely horrible to deal with and I feel your pain. The anitdepressants I'm now on actually also help anxiety and it's been such an unbelievable change that has happened since being on the right dose of them. I have no issue walking around town without headphones, hoody or head down! (If anything, I'm that annoying confident person who smiles at strangers. Ugh. Haha!) I hope you win your battle with anxiety soon. Mine wasn't as bad as yours sounds, so I know I'm lucky, but if you ever need to chat/vent then give me a shout :)

      Self harm is a bizarre thing to try and explain to people who haven't been through it themselves or with someone. Sometimes it's nice to know someone else who has been through it so you know you're not as alone as you might think you are.

      I'm glad it was an inspiration to read this post. I always feel a bit weird about posting things like this as it a) makes me feel a bit vunerable and b) makes me wonder if people think I'm trying to get attention or something! Haha! Thank you for the very kind offer of emailing you if I need to. That means a lot :) You have my email too, so know that you can always email me too ok? :) xxx

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