Newest Review: ... rarely the case. Most self harmers' will hide their injuries, and go to great lengths to do so. If someone wants attention then why wou... more
Searching for peace
Member Name: cloud99
Date: 19/06/09, updated on 16/02/11 (137 review reads)
Advantages: quick fix for feelings
Disadvantages: physcial scars
Self harm has a variety of definitions wikpedia defines it as a deliberate infliction of tissue damage or alteration to oneself without suicidal intent . I have been a self harmer since I was nine years old and only stopped when I was pregnant so have twenty six years experience of self harm.
This is my personal experience.
I do remember the first time I self harmed. I was nine years old and stood in the Kitchen drying the dishes when I had a carving knife and felt an urge to carve my arm open it felt the most natural thing in the world and it did give me a great feeling of calm. It felt a very private thing more than a secret. I self harmed occasionally throughout my childhood sometimes cutting and sometimes I would just walk down the street and drag my knuckles against the wall to graze them. I used to punch myself as well but this was more about self hatred.
My self harm tailed off as a young teenager lot when I discovered alcohol and cigarettes when things got difficult I just had a bit of a binge.
My self harm returned as I got older and started having flashbacks about my childhood. I started cutting with razors, and getting very drunk to block out these memories. This would work for about six months and then the cycle would return.
When I turned twenty five I cut contact with my parents as I was a student nurse and receiving abusive letters from them and I couldn't deal with it and study. Without them in my life I found that I couldn't repress my memories any longer and started self harming on a regular basis. As I was training as a nurse so had to hide cuts so cut right at the top of my shoulder so it could be hidden under my uniform
At this point I started paying for private therapy as I felt I couldn't cope but looking back I spent a lot of money achieving nothing in fact myself harm increased. I was regularly taking razors apart and each time the cuts were getting deeper and deeper. I did qualify as learning disability a nurse got a morgage better car but inside I felt dreadful I would go to work and could focus on my job and loved it was happy for the whole of the shift but then I would drive home and my head would fill with thoughts and memories I didn't want. I would cut myself in order to rest my mind and get a good night sleep.
The first time I went to hospital for stitches I was very scared how the staff would respond so actually phoned a friend to come with me. I can say they were very professional and am grateful I wasn't treated like a freak.
Self harm was a bit like an addiction that I needed to cut deeper and deeper to get the same feeling of calm. One common misunderstanding is that it is about feeling pain. When I self harmed my body was numb and I didn't feel a thing. In fact a nurse once forgot the local aesthetic (accidentally so he said) when stitching me up and I never noticed. I found watching the blood flowing out of my body so calming it felt like a way of cleansing myself. There were a lot of rituals involved and I am not sure why but it all made sense to me.
I regularly attended A&E and in fact knew all the night staff and can say although I have heard many stories of people been treated badly I never was although I was once told by a doctor that I was adding to world suffering. They would contact the mental health crisis team who would usually phone me up and tell me that there was nothing they could do so I would ask the hospital not to contact them as the often disturbed what was a restful sleep. If I had been treated badly it would not of changed whether I self harmed it would just of changed whether I got treatment for it.
Another common misconception is that it is for attention but if I could steri-strip my cuts I would and went to great lengths to hide it from everyone if I could. I also tried other ways of cleansing myself I used to drink Detol and Carex and it helped me feel that my brain was been cleansed.
One night I cut my wrist, it wasn't an attempt to kill myself I was searching for veins and wanted to bleed as much as possible. I went to work the next day with my wrist bandaged up with hindsight this was a serious mistake and I was suspended. This was devastating to me. It meant my escape from my life had gone. That night I felt so bad I cut through a vein and had to call and ambulance as I passed out in the bathroom and then again at the top of the stairs. I was taken to hospital and passed out again in the ambulance. I was put in a cubicle but after they couldn't actually get a blood pressure reading I was moved to resus. At the time I thought it was that I was been moved out of the way but I now realise it was because I was so close to dying. I had to be given a blood transfusion and had to have my vein tied off. I had to stay in hospital and then needed to be prescribed iron tablets as I was anaemic.
I saw a member of the mental health team while I was in hospital He invited me to attend a self help group for self harmers which I thought was a great idea but when I nervously attended I found out that I was the only person who was there so felt even more isolated.
I went to see my GP not long after that feeling very out of control and fearing I was going to kill myself with self harm and he sent me to the local psychiatric hospital for the assessment but the Psychiatrist I met was very unsympathetic and made me feel worse.
I did return to work but when I did I was moved to another ward where I would have more supervision but eventually returned to my job in a community home.
My mental health continued to deteriorate and eventually led to a genuine suicide attempt
This led to me ending up in intensive care but pulled through.
I was given various types of psychotherapy to help. I was told by a psychologist that I needed to understand my self harm before I would ever stop and he was right.
The one thing that dramatically reduced my self harm was a technique called one mindfulness which involves actually concentrating on what you are doing, what you are thinking, not judging or wrapping it up in guilt. When I started understanding at times I was angry at other people it wasn't going to resolve anything and stopped hurting myself but continued when I was angry with myself.
I finally stopped when I found out that I was pregnant and I feared that he would get the chemical buzz I got and when he is older would be searching for the buzz. This was reinforced when I went for a blood test and as the needle went in he kicked and squirmed around for about ten seconds.
I do occasionally get urges to self harm but I try and understand what is going on in my head. I do believe that I won't self harm again although it will always remain on my list of coping mechanisms and will remian badly scarred.
My advice to anyone who self harms is to seek help you aren't necessarily going to be badly treated as you may fear but if it isn't helping seek out further help.
Summary: A coping mechanism that can have fatal results
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