Saturday, 19 July 2014

Self harm

Yea I do that. I've spoken about it quite a bit on here. I'm not entirely sure what this post is about, hence the generic title, just that it's on my mind a lot lately and I feel like sharing.

I reckon I was about twelve when I started to self harm. Strangely I don't remember exactly. You know those games you play as a kid? Knuckles and stuff like that? Challenges to prove how tough you are.... Who can hold a peg on their lip longest, grab that electric fence and so on (I'm assuming here that I wasn't just a totally effed up child lol). In a weird way it was an extension of that.

I felt weak. So I tried to prove to myself I was strong. Obviously self harm doesn't prove any such thing but there you are. We must also mention the C word here. Control. Not of other people, or my life, or my surroundings but of myself. Composure and restraint and stoicism have always been very high up my list of priorities. Don't let anyone see how you really feel, emotions are not, I repeat NOT, acceptable. And we're back to weakness again. Being emotional, sad, angry, scared, excited made me feel weak and out of control and vulnerable. So I self harmed not to get rid of the original feelings but to get rid of the feeling of weakness that they created.

At the same time I was aware of feeling 'not right'. I was aware of wanting to feel differently. I wasn't, however, aware of why I felt that way. It seemed that everything was shit for no reason....how could i feel bad? it's not like I had any problems in my life. What I hadn't caught onto was that those messy thoughts and feelings could be a problem in and of themselves.

So I wanted to solve the problem that I didn't think existed. I wanted a top fix something but couldn't see anything broken. Answer: manufacture a problem that you can then go on to solve. So I self harmed. Self harm is definitely a problem, I always knew that. Therefore if I self harm that must be the problem. Therefore if I quit self harm the problem is solved and everything goes back to normal.

Clearly that is totally flawed logic. It also clearly didn't work since I'm a. Still unhappy and b. Still self harming. So not only did I not solve the original problem but I didn't succeed in my plan to solve my artificial problem!

The ridiculous thing is that this isn't hindsight talking. This isn't the conclusions drawn from years of therapy. This is a thought process that I was very conscious of at the time. Clever Katie *rolleyes*.

Why do you keeping hitting yourself with the hammer? Cos it feels so damn good when I stop.

If you can't make things better, make them worse. Then you can crawl back to where you were originally and it effectively feels like things are better. Problem is the crawling back bit. It always sounds so simple and yet it never is. So now things are worse. And the 'solution' is the same. And so you slip, gradually, further and further.

Nowadays I find life very hard without self harm.

Partly that's to do with hope. I still cling desperately to the idea that quitting will make everything better. So when I stop and nothing changes that little glimmer of optimism disappears. If you have an option that might improve things and you don't take it it will always remain an option. If you take it there's the chance it won't work, then it's no longer an option. Then you have one less thing to try in future and it all feels a little hopeless.

It's also goes right back to the theme of control. When I don't self harm I find it much harder to maintain self control. And I get scared. So I self harm.

When I'm not self harming I find it much harder to wander outside my safe little box. Self harm forms part of a system of... preemptive punishment almost. I'm scared I'll fuck up, I'm scared I'll fail, I'm scared I'll hurt people. Those things need to be balanced out and if I'm self harming regularly it's like I've already paid penance for them. I don't often self harm reactively, as a consequence of doing something 'bad'...I self harm just in case. And that allows me to do things that would otherwise pose too much risk of failure.

Because of this my self harming is not so much impulsive as compulsive. It's not a case of something happening and feeling  especially bad and needing to get through it. It's more a case of 'topping up' at regular intervals... so that the biggest trigger is usually the passage of time. Wounds healing and not wanting to miss 'opportunities' to self harm also feature heavily.

That's something that has often posed problems with treatment and therapists and such like. Often they get stuck on the idea of impulsivity and distraction techniques and riding the wave of urges. Except there is no wave. There's just a constant nagging voice at the back of my brain going round and round on repeat. And it's really annoying and really disruptive and eventually I do what it wants just so it'll stfu and go away.

And then it doesn't go away. Which is why I'm still self harming half my life time later. And I can't say I necessarily expected this post to go in this particular direction. I'm reasonably well aware of the thought processes behind my behaviours but I find them very hard to articulate and get across to others. Consequently I have no idea if this made any sense! Haha. Oh well, it's late. Bed time. X