The ramblings of a 20-something disabled, queer, feminist, Irish kitty

Posts tagged ‘feelings’

Self Injury Awareness Day

Trigger Warning: Self harm

Today, 1st March, is Self Injury/Harm Awareness Day. This is a particularly important day for me, and one that I feel does not get enough attention. Self harm is still a taboo topic, which people shy away from talking about all too often. Even I avoid talking about it most of the time, as I know that doing so upsets the people around me. I even find myself hiding the artwork that I do instead of self harming, because seeing such dark paintings would also upset people! But you know what? Not talking about it only makes it worse.

And so it pleases me greatly that there are charities and initiatives devoted to this topic, and who use today to raise awareness of self harm and how prevalent and damaging it is. When researching the topic, I found 2 particularly informative charity websites.
The first, www.selfharm.co.uk contains some important information, and disturbing statistics. The only problem is that it seems to focus entirely on teenagers and young people, as though once you hit the age of 25 all your problems magically disappear and you no longer feel the urge to self harm.
The second site, www.lifesigns.org.uk, while being a bit of an eyesore in it’s design, at least acknowledges that people of *any* age can be affected by self harm.
Sadly both sites perpetuate the gender binary, declaring that self harm is not just a ‘girl thing’ and boys do it too, completely dismissing anyone who does not identify as either of these. But I guess Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I hope these sites do more good than harm even if they are not perfect.

But I digress. I wanted to give a personal account of my own experience of self harm.
I have been self harming for as long as I can remember, certainly before the age of 9 (when I was first treated for depression). I have been told by professionals that I learnt to do this as a coping mechanism because I did not learn any of the ‘normal’ methods of expressing emotion, especially anger. My anger was stifled, it was an emotion I was simply not allowed to feel, never mind express. So I bottled it up and took it out on myself physically, regardless of who or what I was actually angry at.

To this day I am still not sure what a ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ way to express anger is. I try to use other methods such as writing, painting, or, on rare occasions, actually talking to the person who has angered me and discussing the situation like a healthy grown up. These alternative methods are always a struggle though, and my first gut reaction is always to hurt myself in some way, or to lash out violently. This second part is the scariest. Sometimes I self harm because what I *want* to do is express myself violently outwards, at others, where others can see it. Thankfully since I went on medication a few years ago this side of myself has been easier to control, but it is still there, and it still terrifies me. One of my biggest fears in life is that someday I will lash out violently and I will lose the people closest to me as a result. And so I turn the anger inwards. It always seems better to hurt myself than others.

I had an extremely frustrating assessment with a psychiatrist a couple of days ago. She admitted to me that she intends to write a letter to my GP saying that she is discharging me despite knowing that I will continue to self harm until I undergo intensive therapy. The anger I felt in that meeting was overwhelming. This doctor in essence admitted that even though they are aware that I will continue to injure myself on a regular basis, I must wait several more months to begin therapy and they will not take any more drastic measures because they do not think I am a danger to others.
And whatever organisations like selfharm.co.uk might have you believe, even this doctor is not delusional enough to think that I will magically stop self harming in 35 days when I turn 25 and am no longer to be deemed a ‘young person’.

As I mentioned before, until now I have been too frightened to share the artwork that I make instead of self harming. But as it is Self Injury Awareness Day, I think I shall finally bring some of these pieces out into the light. They may be dark and distressing and all sorts of other negative things to other people, but to me they are a positive thing. They are what I create when I have just enough self control to paint instead of hurt myself, when I can take scissors to paper instead of skin. They may be an ugly outpouring of feelings that people do not want to see, but at least they are *out* instead of stuck inside me. Surely this is a good thing?

Red snowflakes and black text that reads UNWANTED, Drops of Blood in the Snow, drop by drop, it all comes pouring out

Drops of blood – My only painting specifically *about* the urge to self harm

 

black on red oil pastel piece

Pure rage – Quick pieces like might not look pretty but are particularly good for getting the anger out in a hurry.

black lines on bright pink paper, and text that reads 'pain' over and over

Pain – It makes no sense to me at all, but sometimes when I’m in physical pain it makes me want to self harm

Paper and bubble wrap collage including key words re mental illness - psycho, depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc

Psycho – This time I took scissors to paper instead of my skin.

 

 

There’s a lot more art where this came from, and maybe soon I’ll find the courage to post it all on my Tumblr. I honestly don’t know, are these disturbing? Can you look at these and feel my pain and anger? I know they’re not pretty, but they’re healthier than scars, right?

I feel like I’ve been too critical of the charities mentioned above. I genuinely feel that the work they do is very important. In fact, charities are one of the only things keeping me alive right now. During my current breakdown the NHS has failed me over and over again, but I have turned to charities, namely OSARCC, Mind and Samaritans and they have given me the help and support that the doctors have refused me. Someday when I am better and hopefully earning more again, I will give back to these 3 charities in particular, for without them I might not even still be here. I urge anyone who can to support any and all mental health charities. Whether you offer them your time or your money or whatever else you might have, these services are vital and horrendously underfunded.

And it all comes back to the fact that mental illness and self harm are still taboo topics in our society. Not enough people talk about them are far too many people feel that they have to suffer in silence. So even if it is just for one day, please help us smash this ridiculous and outdated stigma. Talk about it. Write about it. Tweet about it. Paint about it. Think about it. Please.

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go? (or, should I feel this guilty?)

TOO MANY FEELS.

WHY DO I HAVE SO MANY FEELS?

I hate not being able to trust my own feelings. Thanks to a combination of being bipolar, having a fucked up childhood, and being overly dependent on A, that is increasingly the case, and I feel I cannot trust myself or make my own decisions.

Today is the funeral of my sister-in-law’s mother. I am not going. Ipswich is far away. Trains are expensive. I am a cripple and need to stay in bed today. These are the reasons (excuses) I am telling myself.

Then I see that C is going. She is leaving home at 6.30 am to make it there, in her wheelchair. I feel guilty  now for not going. I go to the Facebook event page to apologise, and to finally give my condolences. Instead I actually pay attention and read the page properly. On doing so, I discover that there is a second ceremony in London tomorrow. Now I feel even more guilty. If I had realised this yesterday I would have at least considered staying in London and attending it. My brain automatically wonders who to blame now. Is this oversight my fault, for not reading the entire page, for not caring enough to take the time and pay attention? Or was the information not clear enough? I guess it doesn’t really matter.

I discovered all of this shortly after 8 am this morning. I mistakenly assumed that A also had today off work. He usually does whenever I do since he gets more holidays than I. So I assumed that I could hash this out with him at length, the way I do with virtually all my problems. Instead, it turned out that he did have to go to work, and we only had about 5 minutes to discuss the issue. I gave him the facts. I said I felt guilty. He had only minutes to deal with my feelings. He said that I cannot get leave from work tomorrow, that bereavement leave does not extend to distant in-laws, only immediate family. As far as he was concerned, that was that, case closed.

I know that he was trying to help. That it is not his fault that he had to rush off to work. But now I (irrationally) feel like my feelings have not been heard. The situation is more complicated than I had time to explain. Or, at least, I feel that it is. I need more time to discuss and process it.

If I had had time, I would have reminded A that my work are very lenient, that I am fairly confident that they would allow me to take tomorrow off, even at this short notice. So I feel that A’s excuse (reason) for not going tomorrow is invalid.

Everything is so damn complicated. Feelings are so messy. I do not know if this is just me. I have issues. I have guilt complexes, bred from years of living with someone who (possibly) has BPD, for whom guilt trips are a normal way of life.

I know that I should not feel guilty every time C decides to do something and I do not. But her health is so much worse than mine that I feel like if she can do it then I should be able to do it too.

I feel like I should be there for family. And I feel like A disagrees. I feel like this is probably because of the things I have told him about my childhood. He has heard mostly bad things. He knows that I do not like spending time with much of my family, and for perfectly valid reasons. But I still feel the tug of family responsibility. To compound matters, like with most things, I do not know if this is a ‘normal’ human response, or if it is a product of my mental illness and past. Is this just Catholic guilt, compounded by years of emotional abuse? Or is this the so-called ‘normal’ human response of “family comes first”?

I cannot tell any more.

This problem is compounded even further by the sudden realisation that A is actually a human being too, with his own feelings and experiences. He is not just some sounding board, not some machine for me to put my problems in and expect a decision to fall out. I have just said to someone that I am writing all this down instead of dumping it all on one person. But then I realised that if A had had the day off I would have happily dumped it all on him! I realise now that I expect too much from him.

Robot

I rely too much on him. I have known for a long time that I am overly dependent on him. My best friend lives in another country. Most of my other friends and acquaintances live in different counties, and I am not as close to any of them emotionally as I would like. I have known for a long time that I need a close friend who lives nearby. This is something that my CBT was supposed to help with. But it still has not happened. At times like these I am still at a loss as to who to turn to.

Oh, and to make today’s decision even more complicated… I have a therapy session tomorrow afternoon, which I would have to reschedule to be able to go to London. While I feel I would probably be able to get tomorrow off work easily enough, rescheduling my therapy feels a lot harder. This gives me more pause.

And then I look at all of this and wonder why I cannot make my own damn decisions. My therapist tells me that I am too passive a player in my own life. And, immediately, I have a passive reaction! I say nothing, but internally I blame others, I blame my childhood. And this is why I need psychotherapy!

Maybe I should keep this up, write everything down, and then show it all to a therapist. I am much better at putting words to my feelings than I used to be, but I still find writing them down easier than saying them out loud.

And yet more guilt… I argue with myself as to whether or not I should publish things like this, or keep them to myself (and maybe my therapist). I feel guilty for feeling guilty about the things to do with C, and A. Should I say these things somewhere where they can see them? I already know that A’s answer to that question would be yes, but I still worry. I don’t want to make them feel bad. I know that they have done nothing wrong. These are my feelings, and mine alone. I do not blame others for them (or not those mentioned above anyway).

I feel like this whole thing could probably be separated into about 5 different blog posts, and there are yet more issues that just writing this down has bought up, which I am now leaving out! But fuck it, feelings are messy and complicated and intertwined, so here they all are!

Tangled friendship braclets

And now back to the original point, the crux of the matter…

Should I go to London tomorrow?

Someone please tell me, because I am not enough of a grown-up to decide for myself.