I wonder what picture comes immediately to mind when you hear the words ‘self-harming’?
When starting this blog I made a commitment that if it was ever really going to help anyone (including myself) I was going to need to be honest and open and that I would try to do that in all of my posts and comments.
Because of that I have made no secret of the fact that I am a self-harmer, although I must admit I tend to shy away from publishing any graphic details of how this manifests itself in my life and indeed I am also careful about how often I write about my self harming.
But self-harming, whilst it may inspire images of obvious albeit often hidden, physical surface damage, can actually manifest itself in many different ways.
Folk who struggle with depression and obesity may well comfort eat when they are stressed or depressed and indeed this be a form of self-harming. Likewise Bulimia and Anorexia are nowadays often associated with self-harming. Similarly those folk who respond to their suicidal thoughts may also be classed as self-harming.
But what about self-harming that is less obvious and less physical?
Yesterday I posted in my post ‘Morning Has Broken’ that I was feeling a great deal better and indeed I was…
Mentally – The confusion/fog had lifted. Clarity of thought was returning. Even the voices and thoughts had let up a great deal.
Physically – Whilst still being a little tired, I had managed to get some sleep and did feel a little stronger.
Uncharacteristically sensibly of me I didn’t rush into doing too much or over-taxing myself and instead paced myself in my efforts to get such things as paper work and housework caught up and yesterday was indeed a very good day.
BUT today things changed for the worse. For the purpose of this post let me share what my day was like today…
As arranged, my son came and took me into town to go shopping, but I forgot to take my walking stick with me. I realized half way there but didn’t mention it as I didn’t want to have to make him go back for it. We were going into town for a little bit of shopping and then across town for more shopping.
In town, I wasn’t able to get half of the things that I needed. As for the other stuff that I needed but was able to get, instead of my being able to buy from the normal shop were I get them I had to try another shop as my normal choice of shop had run out.
The other shop again didn’t have what I needed but had an albeit poor substitute which I had to settle on. BUT I had to climb a flight of stairs in order to get it and lo and behold half way up the stairs up my knees gave out, I became instantly fatigued and then my breathing followed suit and became very labored.
This meant the cancellation of the rest of the shopping trip and led to my becoming increasingly frustrated, angry and upset and that plus the fatigue and breathing problems have resulted in my having chest pains for most of the rest of the day.
Now I need to clarify at this point that I fully understand that shops run out of things especially this close after the Christmas and New Year period. But you see I wasn’t angry at the shops I was angry and upset at myself for being so out of condition, so fat, and so sick, and so forgetful (in respect of my walking stick) that I couldn’t even go shopping properly.
Whilst I couldn’t hide my pain, lack of breath or fatigue from my son, I didn’t want to show him how frustrated, upset and angry at myself I was. I try so hard not to let him see my illnesses or poor mental health as I don;t want others to suffer from my conditions.
Getting home I had a couple of calls that I had to make in respect of transport for my next hospital appointment (scheduled for Monday next week) and so once I had rested a little I tried making those calls only to receive no answer to my calls. So this added to my frustration and upset.
Again I understand that some folk may not be back at work after the Christmas and New Year break but again it wasn’t them or the lack of answer to my calls that frustrated or upset me it was the fact that I have known about this appointment for weeks but had forgotten to make arrangements before now. So again it was me that was the target of yet more of my frustration and upset and anger.
Determined that I wouldn’t forget other important things I went online to pay some very important bills that needed to be paid either today or tomorrow but when I tried they wouldn’t go through.
I retried, checking, double checking, and triple checking that I had entered all my details correctly – because obviously I can’t even do a simple task like pay bill’s online right – and still they wouldn’t go through.
Logging into my bank account I then realized the problem. A bill that comes out of my account via direct debit if I haven’t already paid it online via my card, had indeed come out of my account this morning! WHY? Because I stupidly hadn’t paid it by my card when I was supposed to because my mental health and the subsequent confusion that it causes me got me all in a muddle and I thought I had paid it when I hadn’t!
I share all this not because I need to vent, which I probably do, nor because I am looking for pity which I am not, nor because I am over it all now and feeling much better about myself, which again I am not. But because it illustrates and emphasizes the point I am trying to make about what I have termed (for want of a better label) as ‘CSSH’ – ‘Covert Subtle Self-Harming’.
Did you notice, when reading my account of my day today, just how much I attacked, ridiculed and harshly judged myself in that account? Trust me none of what I have shared about my day has been exaggerated nor have I added any embellishments for effect. It really is how I treat myself mentally when I have done stupid things or when my mental health is better and I start to realize things that have gone wrong or that I have screwed up during the episode of poor mental or physical health.
Is this sound familiar to anyone? Why do I do this? I know full well that I have mental and physical health issues and I know full well how this can affect me and that I often mess up or forget things or get confused during episodes of very poor mental or even physical health.
Additionally, I am fully aware that this self-critical attitude of harshly judging, ridiculing and mentally self-attacking reaction and behavior only serves to get me even more worked up and is thus detrimental to both my physical and mental health and thus qualifies as a form of self-harming.
But see that is the point isn’t it? I am self-harming because I am punishing myself or at very least turning my frustration with my health and illnesses against myself. It may not be as obvious as physically harming myself but it is still self-harming and I am pretty sure I am not the only one who does it.
And here is the stupidity of it all. Not one single second, nor one entire episode of doing this is going to change the fact that I do have poor mental and physical health, do get fatigued, do get confused and so sometimes forget things or get muddled or mess things up. In fact it has the opposite effect as it get me even more aggravated mentally and this in turn aggravates my heart condition.
Not one single second, nor one entire episode of doing this is going to help the fact that I have to deal with not being able to pay these bills tomorrow. In fact it has the opposite effect because I need to be able to focus and deal with them rationally and calmly but am already worked up and extremely anxious over it all and know it is going to affect my ability to sleep tonight.
As I said above, ‘CSSH’ or ‘Covert Subtle Self-Harming’ may not be as obvious as physically harming and I need to learn to stop doing it. BUT again, I am pretty sure I am not the only one who does it and needs to stop it. Am I?