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I really screwed up - September 30th 2017, 04:04 PM

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

I don't know what happened really. I've been clean for a few months, I don't know how many exactly...I hadn't been keeping count. But a night or so ago, I had these very vivid nightmares. I had a dream that one of my friends put on a video for me to watch. He has dermotillomania and trichotillomania, I have a hard time separating this from 'usual' self-mutilation in my mind since I guess it's more of a compulsion/reaction to anxiety. I think that's why he was in my dream but I really have no idea. Maybe it's because I felt guilty for moving on from my cutting whilst he still suffered with his own issues. But he played this video and it was all these people cutting themselves. It started with one person who wasn't as severe, I mean it was basically the level of cutting I've done in the past which isn't life-threatening (or I wouldn't think so). And then it got worse, the next person...there was more blood and I remember feeling really sick in the dream so I covered my eyes but I ended up still taking a peek and the third person had committed suicide via slitting their wrists. I woke up feeling hot and sweaty and just like I hadn't slept at all but at the same time...I started getting these weird cravings? And I always get them when I try and quit but I thought I'd been lucky this time around.

So, long story short, I ended up cutting again but it's so bad this time. And there wasn't that many cuts I guess...a lot of scratches though. It looks bad. Not that I'm worried about infection or anything, I should be fine. It's just that there's so many and I feel like I've really messed up this time, like I've taken it way too far and that there's no coming back from this. I think it's the nightmare that triggered it and I thought it was just a random nightmare at first but now I think it was just showing my subconscious desires all along. But I guess the nightmare isn't really important at this point. I've already acted on it so I can't change that. What really annoys me is, I did act on it. And I gave in to temptation. I understand that with giving up an addiction comes a lot of strength but I just failed again and I don't think I'm ever going to get out of this loop at this point. I've tried so many times. But I also worry about the scars. There's going to be so many and I'm going to look so ugly that I don't even know what to do. I was trying to get some of my older ones to fade (using some oil) before I did this, now it's going to be much harder :\
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Re: I really screwed up - October 1st 2017, 08:56 AM

Congratulations for making it several months well. I always say start by focusing on the success.

Then the crucial thing to learn about addiction is how the brain has a frontal cortex (or maybe is the prefrontal cortex, I'm not sure), and the brain has a "midbrain" which is more in the center, at the top of the spine. The frontal cortex is the wrinkly stuff on top, the mid brain is all hidden in the middle, and the spine goes up the back to the midbrain, and the cortex sits on the midbrain like a rider sits on a horse.

Now the frontal cortex wrinkly stuff sitting on top is where all the rational logical thought occurs. This is where the "Holy shit what have I done why can't I stop this is bad" thinking comes from. It's where we can imagine the future and make decisions based on knowledge.

The midbrain is more primitive. It doesn't understand rational logic. It's very emotional. It's primitive, and runs on emotions. It just wants what feels good. Especially when it's not feeling good. The more it's not feeling good, or it's feeling stressed, the more it just wants whatever will help.

So it's the rational rider sitting on an emotional horse. Who's really in charge? Is the rider in charge? Is the horse in charge? When the horse is relaxed it obeys and we're in control. But if the horse gets spooked it will run off, carrying the poor rider along with it. Later the rider thinks, "What was that?! I wasn't in control. I'm supposed to be in control, but then this happens!"

OK so that's the general idea. Also the midbrain is between the frontal cortex and the spine, so any decisions made by the frontal cortex have to go through the midbrain to get to the rest of the body so the body will act. So the midbrain gets to veto anything it doesn't like, and it can take charge and block out the frontal cortex if it gets spooked.

so you get spooked by a scary dream, the midbrain takes over, shuts down the frontal cortex, takes over, and goes and does what it wants, what it's learned will help immediately, without really caring about the long term future, because it doesn't have that capacity.

Ironically this midbrain evolved to keep us alive. Sometimes it gets broken and starts commanding us to do things that are not very bright.

(Sorry my explanation isn't very good tonight. I've described this other times much better.)

Hopefully it helps to understand what's going on. Addicts get confused when they realize they aren't in control, and find themselves doing things they've already decided they don't want to do anymore. That's pretty much the definition of addiction -- when one can't "Just say no".

Let's see, what was the other thing? There's a video on youtube by Dr. Kevin McCauley titled "Is addiction a disease?" (Spoiler, Yes it is.) He describes this much better than I do.

So, once one understands this, then it becomes easier to figure out what can be done about it. Reach that emotional midbrain and nurture it back to health (somehow. Easier said than done.)

The other thing is, it's not anybody's fault. It's not your fault. It's not their fault. There's a third option: it can be the fault of the system-as-a-whole. It's possible for a system with no broken parts to still malfunction, because it's possible the design of the system-as-a-whole is faulty. --( how all the parts none of which are defective are positioned and interact with one another.)

[I have no idea what the dream means, if it means anything. Or why you had that dream. I only can see that such a dream is easily triggering, and the result is what happened. That's pretty much what we can't control. (Unless we make it difficult for us to do that stuff, by getting rid of all that stuff, or somehow making it inaccessible to us, so we'd have to really work to go out and buy more of that stuff. We can't totally prevent it, but we can make it harder for us to relapse.

And we can also establish a relapse prevention plan, like next time we find ourselves with those feelings, we have set up a course of action we can take, like we have a list of friends we can call, or places we can go, or things we can do, a bunch of alternatives to doing that which we can implement when the time comes. There's a book called W.R.A.P that can help with that. (Wellness Action Recovery Plan))

Best wishes. Sorry for the not so great explanation.

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Re: I really screwed up - October 8th 2017, 11:12 PM

Hey there,

The thing is, sometimes you can reach a point where there's no coming back... but that doesn't mean you can't move forward. Maybe you'll never be the same as you were before, and that's totally okay. Slipping up like this doesn't mean that you're never going to get better or that you've failed or anything like that. It means that this is the decision you made in this situation, and that the next decision you have to make is what to do about it. Sure, you could berate yourself and decide that the fight isn't worth it anymore - or you could pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on.

Perhaps you could use this as a learning experience. You say that you didn't self harm for a few months, which is a fantastic starting place. What worked for you during those months? How did you keep from hurting yourself? Do you have a particular support system, or go-to distractions, or ways to deal with/express your emotions? If so, keep using them. Now, think about what didn't work. Are there distractions you've tried and found ineffective, or methods of self-expression that didn't really make you feel better? Think about how you can change those or what else you can try for next time. If you're feeling stuck in this loop (and believe me, I've been there) then maybe it's time to try something different. And even if you try more things that don't help, at least you can keep that for future reference so you know to try different things next time. It's all a learning experience, and each time you resist an urge you put yourself in a better position to do the same next time.

As for the dream, there are a number of reasons it could have happened. For me, I find that if I'm going through a difficult time or if I'm subconsciously feeling some kind of negative emotion that I haven't acknowledged, I tend to think about self harm more often. I like to think of those thoughts as warning signs - they tell me that something isn't right, and prompt me to do some self-evaluation to figure out what's really going on. Usually once I deal with the problem the thoughts and urges fade too, but sometimes the urges are just occurring for the sake of it. In those situations I generally try to distract myself and keep busy until they pass. Maybe you could do something similar, and think about whether there's something going on in your life at the moment that's causing you stress or any kind of negative emotion, which might have led to this dream because your subconscious considers self-harm a coping mechanism.

Finally, remember that this isn't an all-or-nothing thing. Slipping up this one time doesn't mean you're no longer in recovery or that things are necessarily going to get worse. It just means that this time you acted on your urges, and since that's already happened and there's nothing you can do to change it, the best thing to do would be to try to forgive yourself. And remember that next time you get one of these urges, you still have the exact same choice: to act on it or not. Choosing to act on it this time doesn't mean you can't choose not to next time.

I hope this helped a bit, and I hope you feel better soon.

if you know the hunter's coming
then you hide or keep on running
'cause she's slain the gods before.
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