The cutting edge of depression

I self-harm.

There, I’ve said it.

*takes large gulp of coffee*

Earlier this afternoon, I published a post about self-harm on one of the web forums I frequent. Having seen the response from my ‘friends’ on the forum, I have decided to take the plunge and be a bit more open on here about some of the shit I’m going through. Why? Because then I can actually write about what I’m feeling, and therefore use my blog as another medium to express myself.

Also, because I suspect that the issue is a lot more widespread than any of us could imagine, but no-one talks about it. Self-harm is viewed as a shameful secret and while I concede it is an uncomfortable subject, a lack of understanding is no reason to make it a taboo subject.

Maybe if more of us who are going through it, or have done so, were open about it, there’d be less stigma? Just a theory…

Without going into details about the whys and wherefores, I suffer from PTSD and depression and as a consequence, am subject to panic attacks and crippling flashbacks that, apart from their incapacitating nature, throw me “off” and leave me feeling emotionally bruised and bashed and generally incapable of doing the most basic things. This morning, for example, I was unable to get up and couldn’t even walk the dogs.

In the past, one of my coping mechanisms was booze and it’s safe to say that I was rapidly becoming dependent on the habit. Thankfully, I was able to stop drinking but over the past few months, I have come to rely on cutting as a means of expressing myself and finding release.

This was working for me but I now feel as though it’s getting out of control. No, scrap that, it is getting out of control and I’m no longer able to manage the cutting itself.

I’ve tried all the obvious stuff like putting my hands in cold / hot water etc but they don’t work. It’s the act of cutting that I’ve been relying on and that’s what I need to address. Even things like going for a walk don’t always work – on Saturday I went for a three mile walk and then walked straight into my bathroom and picked up my knife.

So, the hunt is on the find an alternative way for me to express what I need to express, to articulate the pain, to release the emotions I can’t get out in any other way, without being self-destructive.

Is this possible?

I don’t know.

But I do know that the four month wait for CBT is one hell of a long time, when I frequently struggle to get from one hour to the next…

~Sorry this was such heavy reading for a wet and miserable Thursday afternoon!

12 responses to this post.

  1. It’s a very brave thing to have ‘come out’ about; and more common that people think. I have done it in the past, too.


  2. Posted by Jan on 18 February 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I am shocked, I won’t deny it, not at you but that you feel so bad that you have to harm yourself… but I’m not as shocked as when I discovered a few years ago that a family member self-harmed. Very courageous of you to write about it… BIG HUGS. (is it any use to say that you ought to always have your phone in your pocket?)

  3. I hope you get that CBT soon. 4months wait really sucks.

  4. Posted by Jon Storey on 18 February 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Will come back on this one! My brain isn’t working sufficiently well tonight.

  5. Posted by compostwoman on 19 February 2010 at 12:29 am

    Huge hugs to you…..and am so sorry, that you feel you have to do this, and wish you in a place where you don’t , as fast as possible….

    Question…..Does “extreme” nail biting ( ripping nail from nail bed, drawing blood even through exquisite pain) count as self harm?…I know it isn’t in the same league as cutting…but it makes me wonder …when/why it is done?

  6. Hugs

    yes, compostwoman,it does, as does scratching until blood is drawn. It is a stress relief, although damaging.

  7. Posted by JK on 19 February 2010 at 8:43 am

    Hey Jo, well done on the post, it’s never easy but it’s always valuable.

    The first thing I’d say is that there’s a difference between self-harm and self-injury. Harm is inherently harmful – negative. Injury is merely statement of fact – no judgement. It might sound like semantics but you’ve got enough to deal with without piling additional negativities on yourself when you’re not even aware of them.

    Second, cutting is, for some, a coping mechanism. People will often tell you to stop cutting. The thing is, if you’re using it to cope and you take a coping mechanism away, well, you stop coping. I’d not advocate cutting as the poster model for coping, but it it helps then it helps.

    Third, it might be worth looking at other self-injurous behaviour; for example, my own include not just the “obvious” substance and alcohol abuse, but also dangerous sexual practices/activities, over eating (I feel truly vile as a person after I’ve done that), sleep deprivation, food deprivation, picking fights with people, avoidance… the list goes on. It’s easy to focus on cutting as be “the most troubling” behaviour because you can see it and because it has so much (external and internal) stigma. But it is probably part of a suite of coping mechanisms and is likely to be one of the ones you’re more aware of; it’s often the things we do without realising that are more dangerous in the long term.

    Lastly, well done. I know things are tough. I know *waiting* is tough. I’m 5 weeks into psychotherapy after a 10 month wait. I waited 16 months in South Wales for CBT. It sucks, you feel in limbo and you feel like you’re not a priority, which only exacerbates your feelings of low self worth. Bollocks – bureauocracy waits for nobody, and that’s all it is. Try getting a liver transplant and see how long you have to wait…

    Remember: every hoop you jump through is for you. You doing things for *you*. And that’s important, because so are you xxxx

  8. If writing helps hun, keep writing. We who read it might not always know what to say, or have the answers, but we’ll always read it.

    Whatever helps get you through the day, my love. And stop apologising for the content of your blog – it’s YOUR journal for the expression of what’s on YOUR mind; it’s up to us to decide whether to read it or not. And if anyone comes along trying to impose a 50% fluffy bunnies and happy skippy clappy quotient, they can sod off. This here is your place, and you should cross off the worry box in your head about whether people think the content is too heavy. Chances are, you’re only saying what an awful lot of other people haven’t had the courage to express anyway.

    Cyber hugs are only so much shite, but have some anyway!

  9. Thank you, everyone.

    JK, on your “third point” … well, let’s just say that it’s a point well made and taken. Thanks xx

  10. Jo, No idea what to say, but agree with Jennie, this is your blog to write what you like and I am glad you have found you can express yourself honestly here. Keep expressing and moving forward.

  11. Hi there, I am currently on the upswing (I hope) of a major depressive episode and PTSD (I lost my baby girl). It so totally sucks. But, I just wanted to let you know that I get it. I have blogged a bit about it, which you are welcome to read. I won’t offer any advice except to say that you expressing yourself is good and don’t keep it to yourself. Be kind to yourself and ask for help from everyone.

    Hugs to you,

  12. Thank you, Amy. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss but am glad that you’re getting through things.

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