Thursday, August 10, 2017

A look at self harm

What comes to your mind when you think of self harm?

What if I told you that you probably have someone close to you that struggles with self harm? You don't believe it?

What if I told you that 4% of the population in the United States, suffer from self harm? Would you assume they were all teenagers? 

You would be very wrong.

I began cutting myself when I was 15 but it has continued throughout my life.
My depression and anxiety were at an all time high in high school. Many times, when people think of a teenager who struggles with self harm, they think of a girl, dressed in all black, listening to emo music in a dark room, crying and thinking about how she can use it to get attention.

And here lies the misconception.  I mean, I listened to pop and country music mostly.

Seriously though, I was the bubbly girl known for her contagious laugh and good personality. I was involved in all kinds of activities. Involved in church. The whole nine yards.

People that legitimately struggle with self harm, don't want attention. It's actually the worst thing that they can imagine. They don't want the people that they care about to know that they hurt themselves.

Think about it.

Do you think if you told someone close to you that you feel a sense of relief when you cut your skin open and see blood run down your body, that they would say "oh we're happy you found something to help relieve stress"??

I hid my cutting from everyone. I did it in areas that people couldn't see or could be easily covered. As the depression got worse, so did the self harm. I began getting sloppy and cutting more visible areas. I had rabbits at the time, so it was easy to explain bandages on my arms. Long sleeves and pants were my regular attire regardless of the temperature. I just said for years that I didn't want to wear anything but jeans. I rode horses alot at the time as well. So again, easy to get away with.

Two of the biggest signs that someone might be a cutter, I had explanations for. There is usually always an excuse of some sort. We learn to come up with lies to explain the cuts pretty quickly.

Now don't get me wrong, cutting is not the only or even main form of self harm. It's just the main one for me. I've dabbled in other things but always received the most relief/euphoria from cutting.

The definition for self harm is: Nonsuicidal self-injury, often simply called self-injury, is the act of deliberately harming the surface of your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It's typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, this type of self-injury is an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.

The other big misconception about people that self harm, is that they are suicidal. The opposite was true for myself and many other "cutters" that I've asked. I was literally scared to death of death. Still struggle with that today. I don't want to die

We don't want to kill ourselves.

Most of the time.

This isn't one size fits all.

If someone you know has been making suicidal comments or plans, that's a whole new ballgame and you need to seek help for them.

But for the most part, the two reasons that people tend to use self harm is because they don't feel anything and desperately want to feel. Or they are feeling way too much at once and need one thing to focus on to calm down.

You know how if something hurts, sometimes people will say to pinch yourself somewhere else to take your mind off of the pain you felt originally? That's what a self harmer is essentially trying to do. Distract themselves from their internal pain. Is it healthy? No. Is it the right way to express emotions? No. Is it a good coping mechanism? No. Do I recommend it? Hell no.

I want to shine some light on this subject. I want it to become a topic that people can talk about without judgement. I want there to be support groups for the self harmer besides the psych ward at the hospital. I want like a Self-Harmer Anonymous vibe going on. A safe place for people to come to learn good coping skills. To get through an urge as it's happening. Let's support each other. Get rid of the stereotypical views and stigma surrounding this topic. Reach out. Get help. I'm here for anyone, anytime.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Inevitable Spiral

 It's happening.

I can feel it.

The clouds are forming and the shadows are setting in.

It's a dark, cold, lonely place.

And I'm back to visit.

God help me.

When the moods of a bipolar patient shift, the world becomes a different place each time. For the last few months everything has been vibrant. Fun. Bright. At ease. It's been my light after the dark just a few short months ago. It's when the adventurous part of me blossoms and makes memories to remember until the light comes back again. I crave this place. This setting. The place where anxiety doesn't really exist. Where I feel high on life. Where I am not seeing a doctor or therapist every week because I have nothing to talk about. Where I eat anything I want without worry of how I look or how it makes me feel. When I'm in this place, I feel like I could do anything. I can accomplish any goal that I've ever dreamed about. I'm capable. Strong. Taking less medication. The best, and ultimately worst, times of my life are spent here.

Why the worst times?

Because, inevitably during a Bipolar 1 manic phase, you go too far. In one way or another, you lose control of yourself and do things that you wouldn't normally do. You spend too much, you leave and don't tell anyone, you stop your medication all together, you disregard responsibilities because you don't care about anything else but the happiness and elation that you are feeling. You never know how long it's going to last. So you become consumed with trying to make it last as long as you can. Doing things to keep your happiness up even if it means hurting yourself or someone else.

Can you relate? Have you been there? Have you hurt someone that you care about during a manic episode? Have you hurt yourself?

We think mania is our friend. We think that it's the time where we are our best self. The happiest, smartest and most beautiful that we can be. But before we know it, the elation is gone. And we are left with the aftermath of our manic episode. Whatever that might look like.

The guilt sets in. How did I not see it coming?  I knew the happiness and the feelings of accomplishing anything were unrealistic for me.

But we don't want to stop it. It feels good. We feel bad too often. We hate ourselves and our minds too often. Without the mania, we feel empty most of the time. Like life is swallowing us and there is nothing we can do to stop it. We don't feel strong. We don't feel capable. We feel tired. We lose the control that we swore we had during mania.

But mania isn't controlled. It controls you. It takes over. It tells you that the only thing that matters is your happiness. It tells you that you deserve anything you want, even if it's not what's best for you. It's a liar. It's selfish.

So as this manic phase comes to an end, and the darkness starts to roll back in, I'm going to practice self care.

I'm going to tell myself that it's going to be okay even as the mania fades. I'm aware of my mood shifts and how they work. I have my resources on speed dial. And I'm not going to let the darkness take over.

I'm going to have to fight like crazy.

But the darkness won't win.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Guess who's back?

Hey everyone.

I'm back.

I know, I know. You've been dying for me to write another post. You just haven't even been able to function for the last like 8 months.

No?  Not so much?  Your life doesn't revolve around my blog??  Pshh.  Fine then.

No really though. I'm so happy to be writing another post.

I'm learning that my lack of commitment in pretty much every endeavor that I pursue, tends to make me unreliable.  Being a blogger has definitely not proven to be any different. 😂😂

So, life has been pretty crazy with it being summer and the kids being out of school.  It's been fun.  But crazy. But we have just been trying to relax and enjoy it.  See what I did there???  😉

So far since the kids have been out of school we have: taken a week long vacation to Disney World, went to multiple birthday bashes, went to the zoo and have been swimming like fish!!

Disney was AH-MAZING. Best week of my life. I had never been, so obviously I was worse than the children when it came to excitement.  I mean, getting to see Cinderella's castle in real life? Getting to meet the real (you can't convince me otherwise) Minnie and Mickey Mouse??  All of my dreams literally came true that week. So incredible.

We took the kids to the zoo which is always a good time as well. Got to see a new Dinosaur Island attraction there that was pretty stellar as well.  Many more trips in our future because we got ourselves a membership this year. That's right. We don't have to pay $10 to park anymore. We're kind of a big deal.

So as far as mental illness goes, it's Summer, which means I seem to need less medication to keep me from panicking all day everyday or going into a deep depression.  So that's always good news!  I tend to go into mania around this time though as well.  My manic times have not fared well so far.  So I get nervous when this time comes. I'm not the best at seeing it coming. But luckily, I've got plenty of friends and family that can tell when my crazy is just getting beyond out of control. They let me know that it might be a good time to go talk to my counselor that I've cancelled my last three appointments with because I feel fantastic! Or they I might want me to let them hide my debit card because my kids don't need 10 pairs of shorts when they have a dresser full at home.  Ya know. The stuff friends and family are there for! So thank God for them. Lord knows I wouldn't be here without them.

So anyway, this has been the latest edition of my ramblings. I'm thinking I'm going to continue rambling at least for the next week or so. But I'm not going to say "oh yeah I'm posting everyday and this is my new big thing that I'm going to do all the time."  Because that never ends up working out for me.  As we discussed earlier, I tend to lack motivation when it comes to these things.  So instead, I will say, I'm currently in the mood to write blogs, so you will probably be seeing a few in the near future!  If not, just know that I really was thinking at the time of writing this, that I want to blog again.  Hopefully it sticks this time and I can keep impressing you with my fun and witty diatribes.

Thank you for reading this hot mess of a post. I promise they will get better. I'm sure I'll read this tomorrow and think, what the hell was wrong with you last night? But for now, I'm thinking this post is pretty much comedic gold.

Goodnight all.