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Self Harm If you or someone you know is struggling with self harm and needs advice or alternatives, we're here to help.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
Noire Offline
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I blew it - May 23rd 2017, 12:30 AM

This thread has been labeled as triggering, particularly on the subject of self harm, by the original poster or by a Moderator. The contents of this thread might therefore not be suitable for certain sensitive users. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

*Trigger warning for abuse also*

As many of you know, I've spent more than three months this year in treatment for my mental health issues/trauma. I'd been doing so well lately. I had almost four months of SH-sobreity under my belt. I was excited about starting college classes again and about beginning to rehabilitate the foot I recently had surgery on. Things were looking up.

But life's been hard the past couple of weeks. Trauma work is bringing up a lot of stress for me. In addition, I fell quite ill on Friday and I'm still recovering; I've been completely wiped out the past few days. This has made me emotionally vulnerable when coupled with the trauma issues.

Today I got into an argument with my girlfriend. In the course of that argument she said something that was a triggering phrase for me from past abusive relationships. I didn't know what to do so I started crying once she left. After she had gone I took a lighter and I burned myself with it. I was careful; they are only second-degree burns this time, not third, so I don't need to go to the hospital, but still, I self-harmed.

I don't know how I feel about it. I began crying again once I finished, which is unusual for me; I usually dissociate and feel nothing. I know I feel ashamed that I blew four months free of self-harm. I know I feel apprehensive that when my girlfriend gets home she's going to see the damage and it's going to make our fight so much worse. Other than that I don't know what I feel.

I am posting this, though, because I want to make sure I stop the cycle. Normally after I go a long time without SH and then do it it starts a snowball effect. I SH because I feel bad, then I feel like a failure because I engaged in SH, so I SH more, and the damage gets progressively worse until I need to go to the hospital for medical treatment. I don't want to do that this time. I want this to be a one-time thing because I don't want to turn to that path anymore.

What do I do?


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  (#2 (permalink)) Old
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Re: I blew it - May 23rd 2017, 11:15 AM

Hey,

First off, congrats on being SH free for so long! That's such a great achievement and you should be so proud of that. And I know that being proud of getting so far always makes a relapse feel terrible, so I get why you're so upset that you've slipped up. But that's all it is, a slip up. It sounds like you're in a far more logical place now than you have been in the past. You can reflect on what you've done, how far you've come, and what you need to achieve now, and that's such an amazing skill to have developed because if you can reflect, you can find out what went wrong.

Does your girlfriend know about your SH? If she does, it may be worth sitting down with her and explaining to her that, while it's not her fault that the phrase she said triggered you, it is an issue for you to hear and it's one you're working on at your own pace. I know you're worried that it will make your fight worse if she sees your burn, but if you communicate with her, she may be able to help you get through this rather than bring up negative feelings again. Communication is such an incredible skill to have and if your girlfriend can support you through this, it will make you far stronger in your continuing recovery. Also, if you are still receiving treatment, or seeing a therapist, you could bring up your trigger with them if you feel able to. It might be a useful thing to work on this trigger with a professional who can help you work on how to cope when and if it comes up again. I'm not sure what the phrase was of course, but sometimes triggers can pop up unexpectedly and out of their original context and this can prove to be problematic in every day life. If you can find a way to deal with it, it may really help you continue to work on your SH.

Do everything at the pace you need to be comfortable. Four months is so amazing and regardless of SHing this time, it's so so possible for you to get back up to four months and then beyond. The simple fact is, you've already done it once, so you can do it again. The fact you cried rather than dissociated is a really good sign because crying is a far healthier way to express emotions than to dissociate. You are strong enough that you can face what has happened and express your emotions in a healthy manner, which, I think, is a good sign considering SH is a far less healthy way to express yourself. Cry as much as you need to, it's perfectly natural and you shouldn't be ashamed of that.

For now, take it slowly. If urges come up, which they may well do, take each moment as it comes. Keep yourself busy as you may have done before, and if those alternatives don't seem to be helping, try some new ones. Go for a walk and get some air, or scribble on some paper until you feel like the bad energy has subsided a bit. Call a friend, or your girlfriend, and just sit and watch a nice film or have a cup of tea (because tea is the answer to most problems, I find). There's no right or wrong way to deal with the urges as long as it's healthy and you try your best not to give in. You know now that SH is not what you want to do, and that's a really good thing because it means you're more in control over your actions. Fight, and you'll find that you really can do this.

Finally, don't be afraid to seek medical help for the burn if it gets worse. Keep it clean and if it starts to play you up, get it seen to. It may not be as bad as others but it's a good idea to watch it anyway.

I hope this has helped a bit. Keep going, you are doing so well and you will get through this. Take care.


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Re: I blew it - May 23rd 2017, 11:22 PM

Hey,

Congratulations on going four months self-harm free. It's awesome that you were able to go four months without self-harm and it's nice that you were excited about college courses again. As it's been said, you've done it before, and that means you can go self-harm free like that again. You're capable of it.

Talking to your girlfriend could be something to consider if you feel comfortable doing so. Perhaps, like it has been suggested, you can ask for her support or speak to someone else you trust and ask for their support as well.

You said self-harm is like a snowball effect and you want this to be a one time thing. Wanting that in itself is good. Since you know based on past experiences that self-harming makes you feel bad, thus triggering you to do it again, maybe you can plan things to do when you feel bad. For instance, you can write about how you're feeling or you can talk to someone about it instead.

Hang in there.


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  (#4 (permalink)) Old
Noire Offline
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Re: I blew it - May 24th 2017, 02:06 AM

Thank you both for your advice. I did talk to her about what happened (she was bound to see it anyway, so I was just honest about it up front). She was upset but, like always, she manages her emotions well and instead of yelling or getting angry she expressed concerned for the wounds and the need to dress them, then asked me about why I chose to do that. It was a long, productive conversation where she was better able to understand me while still working on alternatives. I told her she should take all the objects I could SH with and put them away so she did.

Four months is a big accomplishment, especially with the strength and frequency of the flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. I've noticed that my mood seems fairly stable until the topic of trauma work comes up. Originally we put it off because it was much more immediately imperative that I treat the SH cycle and my eating disorder, since both were killing me, just one more slowly than the other. But now that I'm stable, starting class, working on physical therapy, etc., my treatment team has decided I should work on the trauma that occurred last winter and on previous trauma that still affects me (I have been diagnosed with PTSD for a few years now). Every time they bring it up it all comes crashing down on my head and it's too much to handle.

The problem is that there's never going to be a "good time" to do it. It's always going to have this affect, and I don't know what to do. I feel myself slipping into tricky territory; just today I've been tempted to find some way to harm myself and do it. I've also experienced suicidal ideation, too. I don't know how to cope.


Love joins
Love unites
Love breaks us apart
The power to conquer here in our hearts
Enduring and sacred
Eternal as time
For love, love alone will conquer all


"A Million," by VNV Nation
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