Today is Self Injury Awareness Day and a good day to write down some of the things I had to deal with as a child to show that there is help out there and you should never stop looking!
I had a lot of issues growing up that were maybe in part chemical? I question now after going through what we have with my son, but also many more were situational. I think I would have always had something to work through because of my intelligence level but I’m not sure if the suicidal thoughts and self harm were due to the chemical imbalance as shown by my son or simply due to my growing up …
The facts are the I have one brother with diagnosed schizophrenia and one was told he had bipolar disease although once he removed himself from the toxic relationships of his past all the symptoms have disappeared … so I’m going to guess it was mostly situational as well.
I have written of some of the issues I dealt with here in this blog already but what I haven’t touched on was how I dealt with them. It was a very dark time for me in my mind and I really did get to the point where I saw no happy future, no happy path. Every where I looked I saw the same misery and despair, or malice and dishonesty and none of those things I wanted to be a part of.
My house was filled with emotional abuse and physical abuse, I got most of the emotional abuse as I got very good at keeping my mouth shut and out-of-the-way once I saw something coming on. The only problem was that if my brothers were in harm’s way I would shed that self-preservation in order to put myself between them and the abuse. I didn’t always make it on time unfortunately but I did get to be very good at diffusing situations and providing distractions. I’m still very good at manipulating people if I want to, and no I don’t consider that a good thing.
Anyway, as a result of seeing no way out and the stress level of making myself responsible for those around me eventually the emotional pressure got to be too much to handle and I needed a way to let it out. I started cutting, on my legs mostly at first, it was easy to hide. I remember the first time just watching the blood come out and it was like a pressure valve, releasing the hurt and anger and darkness that lied within. I would watch until it stopped flowing and then cut again almost leaving me feeling like I was on the outside looking in.
That would help put me into a trance almost for a while and I could go on dealing with life a bit longer, like I had no feelings and no emotions of any sort. I got very good at carrying that feeling along with me even well past my self harm days, I think that was the hardest thing to overcome really.
I did eventually move on to cutting on my arms but not much as they would be noticed more easily and then came the needles. They were easier to hide, made less of a mark and so could be used more often without fear of being found out, of course the effect was not quite as ‘good’ and I really only did that when I was in a hurry and in fear of being found out.
Eventually I started smoking, I think I was about 12 or so. I quite literally started as a death wish. Everywhere you looked at the time the message was that smoking would kill you, so I started smoking, in secret, it was never about being cool or fitting in, it was about getting to the end more quickly. At my worst I was smoking 3 large packs per day … it also came in handy because I then moved on to burning. The cutting was a good way to let out the pain but the burning was much better at trumping it, making me hurt more than the emotions inside.
By this point I was no longer living at home and so I started going to counselling for my emotional baggage. I was only 16 and so the counselor was very nice but I’m sure she thought half of my issues were made to sound worse than they were and I was blowing things out of per portion like teens normally do. After a short while of talking she wanted to meet with my parent, I didn’t like the idea but to this day I think it saved my life.
Once the meeting began I noticed the look on the counselors face change very quickly, the more she tried to talk to them the more obvious it became to me that I really didn’t even need to chime in, she was getting the message loud and clear. I think we were in that half hour appointment for and hour and a half, she then excused them and kept me behind to chat further. She apologized, she told me that things were worse than I had even made them out to be and that I was right in not wanting to be part of their lives. She continued to tell me that she was impressed by the amount of maturity I showed in everything and especially with them over the past hour. Basically she told me I was not a ‘troubled teen’ and I was not the crazy one!
For me, that was all I needed to hear, I only had a couple of sessions after that, I very quickly stopped cutting and burning and all and decided that I was worth something after all. I was not the terrible, awful child that they were making me out to be, they were the problem not me or my attitude. It might be worth noting that no one even knew about the self harm, it was just the crazy in my mind that took me to see a counselor but I never did disclose the self harm issues. I’m not saying anyone should do that, it just so happened that for me it was situational and once I got a way out of blaming myself everything else was easy for me to stop, I’m also extremely stubborn and strong.
The smoking unfortunately took a much longer time to quit, but that too is gone and done now! 😀
The last thing I remember doing was burning, I think I was about 18. There have been times since then that the urge has shown itself but not in a very long time, years! I started getting lost in music instead, pink floyd mostly when I wanted or needed to zone out and now a days I have other methods entirely. I still love fire but I stick to the fire pit not me, and I’m very careful to not put a blade anywhere near my skin. I think once you have that addiction you don’t ever lose it entirely …. it’s like alcoholism, you don’t go and say you’re only going to have one. That never ends well.
I still listen to music and pink floyd is still my most favourite but now a days I see the coming out of the darkness side of the music not the dark despair of the past.