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Thank you for visiting. Content MAY BE TRIGGERING ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED ABUSE, STRUGGLE WITH SELF-INJURY, SUICIDE, DEPRESSION OR AN EATING DISORDER. Contains graphic descriptions of suicidal thoughts, self-injury and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Do not read further if you are not in a safe place. If you are triggered, please reach out to your support system, a mental health professional or call 911.

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A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Self Injury Awareness Day



I am one of the estimated 5% (not including eating disorders which is also a form of self injury) of Americans who struggle with self-injury. I have been self-injury free for about one year except for my eating disorder and unintentional non-compliance with physican orders. But, the daily urge to cut, burn or bruise is not there anymore.  Sure, there are "good" day and "bad" days. I used to think about all the time, but not anymore.  It was kind of like Muzak because that is what it is all the time with the volume turned up, at times.
It is called self-injury, self-harm, self-injury; whatever, you name it is one of the most misunderstood behaviors associated with mental illness.  But, I share my struggles with celebrities who at one time or another self-injured including Fiona Apple, Brody Dalle, Johnny Depp, Richey Edwards, Colin Farrell, Jessicka Fodera, Kelly Holmes, Angelina Jolie, Alfred Kinsey, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, Princess Diana, Shirley Manson, Christina Ricci, Amy Studt, Sid Vicious and Amy Winehouse to name a few. These names were confirmed by self-injury.net.
This came from Live Journal and it nicely sums up those who self-injure...

"We are male and female. We are artists, athletes, students, and business owners. We have depression, DID, PTSD, eating disorders, borderline personalities, bipolar disorder, or maybe no formal diagnosis at all. Some of us were abused, some were not. We are straight, bi, and gay. We come from all walks of life and can be any age. We are every single race or religion that you can possibly think of. Our common link is this: We are in pain. We self-injure. And we are not freaks."


Self-injury is an addiction. According to FirstSIGNS, self-injury is defined as...


“Self-injury is any deliberate, non suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical harm on your body and is aimed at relieving emotional distress. Physical pain is often easier to deal with than emotional pain, because it causes 'real' feelings. Injuries can prove to an individual that their emotional pain is real and valid. Self-injurious behaviour may calm or awaken a person. Yet self-injury only provides temporary relief, it does not deal with the underlying issues. Self-injury can become a natural response to the stresses of day to day life and can escalate in frequency and severity.”


Types of self-injury include, but is not limited to cutting, burning, poisoning, bruising, overdosing, carving words or symbols on the skin, breaking of bones, hitting or punching oneself, piercing the skin with sharp objects, head banging, pinching, biting, pulling out hair and interfering with wound.

Personally, I have cut, burned and bruised myself. It is a part of my expression of self-hatred. I have some scared, but the cutting ones do not show. I have hidden the marks even from my husband. What I experience is that I usually do this to release the tension of intense feelings or agitation and to make the thoughts go away. It brings a sense of calm. That is where the addition cycle comes in because it releases endorphins, but then I feel guilty and ashamed…and there the cycle starts. It is an ADDICTION!!
Most people start in adolesence. However, the first instance may occur much earlier. My first instance was when I was four or five. It reached its peak when I was in my mid-twenties and almost forty years later I still struggle. I was able to stop for a few years. I am injury free right now!!

I believe mine started as a way to deal with my sexual abuse other abuse, my emotions being unacceptable and watching other be out of control, domestic violence and chaos completely surrounding my childhood.

I was doing well for about five years. But, when  my grandfather passed away, I started again. At one point, work and therapy became so stressful that I was cutting 4-5 times per day just to get through work because I started to have flashbacks of my abuse.

What other reasons do people self-injure?  Communication, self-expression of emotions, release and relief from intolerable distress, having a sense of control over one's emotions and environment, a cry for help, defense against emotional pain, self punishment, self hatred, expression of thoughts and feelings that are difficult to express.

A few words of advice, please don't tell me to "just stop."  You may think that is helpful or that will solve everthing.  I put incredible pressure to stop...more than anyone else.  By telling me to "just stop," it makes me feel like I'm a bad person which leads to more self-injure. I need to learn coping mechanisms, how to express myself appropriately and how to love myself. But, then everything won't just be fine..there are many underlying issues, so self-injury is my way of defending against that which I never wanted to deal with in the first place.  Also, do not get into power struggles with me it makes me feel less in control.  Self-injury like eating disorders are a form of control. 

To obtain other information including how to help a loved one please look at the links in this article or do an Internet search.  There is a lot of information out there.  I hope this article caused you to look at self-injury in a different light and HOPE both for those who do this and for those who don’t.

8 comments:

Jude said...

I guess my form of self injury is drinking. I would never tell anyone to just stop whatever they are doing that is harmful because addictions are very hard to break and anyone that is addiction free would never understand and always tend to judge and criticize what they don't understand. I wish you much success in all that you try to accomplish. This is my first visit, but I'll try to keep up with your blog. I think I may be leaving Entrecard soon so I'll bookmark you.

Steve E said...

First, thank you for visiting my blog--and commenting.

Second, although, as you know, I am a recovering Alkie, I have not a single clue about the illneses you describe on this post.

I could never EVER attempt to help you except with that one word I read at the bottom of your post (it is in the sidebar, I think?)...it said "HOPE"..WOW!

cordieb said...

CC, your story is full of such sadness that it is hard to fathom. However, sadly many children suffer the pains for which you speak. Your story gives me hope for humanity, in that you are a survivor; one who is brave enough to tell the story and one who fights each day to overcome the emotional and mental anguish that always occurs when one lives through such abuse. I am happy to have "met" such a strong woman, who is willing to help others by educating and sharing your experiences so candidly. I'm delighted that you have progressed so well in not self injuring. I do know the feelings of not being able to express myself, and feeling I have no control and being totally frustrated-- especially feelings of anger and not being able to express, which has often caused me to be very unloving to myself -- including drinking heavily, walking in dangerous neighborhoods at night, taking hands full of pills, staying in unhealthy relationships, pinching myself, scratching myself, putting myself in dangerous situations, and the list goes on...so I certainly can understand where you are coming from. Thanks for the abundance of information and education, because I'd never seen myself in this light, just thought I was high strung or crazy at times. For me, I have to remind myself to love myself and most importantly, in-turn, to be loving to myself.

So, hug your self often, and love yourself always. You've only got one You.

I'll be visiting often. I hope you visit Mirrored Reflections again. P.S. I wrote a poem I'd like to share with you. I left the link on my reply to your comment over at mirrored reflections.

Peace, Light and Love,

C.

Clueless said...

Jude, Thank you for visiting and for your encouragement. An addiction is an addiction no matter what form and they are all self-destructive.

Steve, Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. As a recovering Alkie the process is the same as alcoholism...it takes over your life and it is one day at a time, or sometimes one minute at a time.

CordieB,

Thank your for visiting and I will be coming back to your blog. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. Working through my "issues" has been a long process that has been worth it.

Girl Meets Gun said...

I relate to this so well. I recently attended a family reunion, and the scars on my legs and arms are hideous, but I didn't want to hide beneath pants and long sleeve shirts in the hot weather. I don't even notice them, but I noticed the looks and stares from my own family.

I wanted to tell them, you think this is ugly? Well, you should hear why they are even there.

Thank you for writing about such difficult topics. I went nearly 6 months without harming myself. I'm back to going one week. I'll keep you in my thoughts.

Clueless said...

Hi GMG,

Thank you for visiting and making a comment on my blog. Congratulations on six months. I hope that you don't look at starting again as failure because it is just a part of the progress toward healing. Hang in there. You are also in my thoughts and prayers.

take care,

CC

xXxtj-vamp-girlxXx said...

Hi,
I also self harm, started when I was 11, compass then scizzors then razor. I managed to stop me and my friend did it at the same time, she never slipped but I've never fully stopped. Been on off for 5 years now and I hadnt cut for weeks because I did it on my top of the arm but people started to notice an would ask, so I stopped but I needed to cut. I started again but on my leg and its easier to hide and creates more pain and a better feeling I cant stop and a m cutting almost every day now, I need to stop, I know that but I dont want to stop. My friendsz making me go to the doctors this sat but I dont want to I'm scared of what they'll say, if they judge me, make me stop, say im seeking attention or call me crazy. People who havnt been through similar stuff,been addicted to anything dont understand and they judge.

Its so great that you've stopped :) keep holding on xxx

Clueless said...

Hi Vamp Girl,

Sorry that it has taken so long to respond to your comment. It is very brave and courageous of you to allow them to show. Sounds like you want others to know that you are hurting. I am almost two years without self-injury, but the thoughts are still there, but not as strong. Be good to yourself. Remember, that recovery is an up and down process.

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