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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
Ashen Offline
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To my dear fellow self-harmer - April 3rd 2018, 02:57 PM

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.

Dear Fellow Self-Harmer,

This may well be edited or deleted by a moderator, but if possible, I’d like to tell you a story.

So I’ve been self-harming for roughly four years. Mostly I cut my inner forearms but sometimes, when I know I don’t have the energy or time to spare for healing, I hit myself hard enough to leave bruises that last for days or I slap myself. The first two years of college were very bad. There were stretches I self-harmed every day or even multiple times in one day. This school-year I’ve been better – only cutting a handful of times since the end of August.

During the last week of August, I moved into my dorm a week early because I had signed up for this leadership program. Honestly, I didn’t really care about the program – I just needed to move in early and helping other in the dorm move their stuff in seemed a small price to pay. The first morning of move in, I was anxious as hell, inwardly scared to screaming. I was surrounded by strangers – students and their families – and I had practically no idea what to do. My mind was hiding behind a thick plane of glass, trying to distance itself from this chaotic situation that completely terrified it. But I knew I couldn’t just retreat inside myself and hide or run away. So I turned to the only thing I knew would force my mind back to reality: pain.

I clasped by wrists behind my back, left wrist in right hand, and started squeezing. As my grip tightened and pain started to radiate from my wrist, I felt my head start to clear, at least a tiny bit, both from the pain and the simple act of having something to hold onto. So I kept squeezing. Minutes passed until I had to go help roll one of those big blue bins full of someone’s stuff down the ramp.

Afterward I looked at my wrist. It was red with darker marks where my fingers had gripped it, though the marks were already fading. I’m not strong enough to leave lasting bruises. I moved it and it hurt. At the time my first thought was good. I wanted to wrap my hand around it again and keep squeezing. But the more rational side of my brain emerged and stopped me.

What the hell was I doing? I couldn’t afford to hurt my wrist. I had two jobs, both involving lifting and carrying books around, and classes were starting in a week – and all my classes were writing heavy.

So I stopped. I didn’t wrap my hand around my wrist. I didn’t try to squeeze the the life out of it. I didn’t try to leave bruises. And anyway, rational brain aside, I didn’t need to. I had the pain I felt I needed. It hurt any time I moved or used it and I couldn’t twist it more than a few degrees. The damage was already done.

Fast forward several months. December. Hauling books around at the library. Helping set up the bookstore in its new location. Frantically typing page after page of papers. Playing piano for hours to get my mind to stop chasing itself in circles. All with an ace bandage - cut in half to make it smaller - wrapped around my wrist. I’ve hurt my wrist before. Enough times that I know how to wrap it and that the support helps it not hurt as much. Enough times that I probably should have known something was wrong the moment I couldn’t move my wrist without blinding pain. But I hate doctors. And so what if months later I still couldn’t twist my wrist at all. It was just my stupid wrist being annoying as usual, right?

Fast forward another few months. March. I finally gave in to my mom’s urging and went to the doctor. I was tired of constantly having my stupid wrist hurting all the time. I didn’t want to become dependent on wearing some sort of support on my wrist, but I still couldn’t work without it cracking and hurting. So I went to the University’s student health service. They assigned me to a doctor in sports medicine and, so nervous I wanted to throw up, I went. I sat in the small white room and let the doctor examine my wrist, answering his questions on autopilot.

Of course he asked how it happened. What was I supposed to say? So I awkwardly stammered something about it being squeezed too tightly, wrapping my other hand loosely around my wrist to demonstrate (I’ve always found it easier to speak through gestures and motions than actual words and speech). I think he was somewhat confused. After few minutes of confused Q&A, I think he got how it was hurt, at least the squeezing part. But then he asked, “Oh, so you did this?” I think I stammered out something to the affirmative – a lot of the conversation is a blur in my mind. But I think the doctor got the gist of what happened – and possibly why. He asked, kindly, I think, but also sternly, “Have you done it again since?” I shook my head. He said, “Good.”

His verdict: I had compressed the two bones, the radius and the ulna, and messed up (my words, I forget the technical ones) the joint. I left the clinic with a PT (physical therapy) appointment for the next week.

I just had my second PT appointment yesterday. In the first meeting, the physical therapist suggested going to therapy every week, but after the first visit, each visit would cost $15 and I couldn’t afford that. So I just did my exercises everyday and made a follow up appoint a month after that initial one. I left the second appointment with more exercises to do.

Fast forward to now. Seven months after I sought clarity and escape from my fear through pain. Seven months after I deliberately and unintentionally injured my wrist. It still hurts. I can twist it now, most of the time without too much pain. The sharp stabbing pain is for the most part gone, but it still aches by the end of a four-hour shift and for the rest of the day after work. I have a brace – a splint – that I’m supposed to wear at night and when my wrist starts to really be annoying. I have a dozen exercises I have to do every day, with therapy putty and resistance bands. It still cracks and makes clicking noises when I use it and sometimes I can feel the bones shifting.

To the whole point of this long, long post. I’m twenty years old. I’ve messed up my wrist – possibly for life, who knows. Yeah, the extent of the damage probably has something to do with this being the sixth time I’ve hurt that wrist and that I’ve had issues with it for years. But even after ending up in the ER having sprained it again in soccer or having it get bent way too far in an accident on an airplane, it’s never been this painful for this long. I did that. I caused this latest injury that is not going away. I don't regret the scars I've drawn on my own body, scars that are not going away anytime soon. I don't regret the bruises and stinging pain I've caused. I regret this.

So to you, my fellow self-harmer. I’m not going to tell you to stop self-harming altogether, to go cold-turkey. For one, that would be hypocritical of me since I still relapse and constantly battle with my own mind to not turn to the pain when it gets bad. And also, I know how hard it is to stop, how hard it is to give up that one coping mechanism you feel actually works. To give up that one thing that makes you feel you have control over something, even if it’s just your own pain. So I’m not going to tell you to stop. It might be better for all of us if we did try to stop, but reality doesn’t always match up with the ideal world.

I’m just going to tell you to be careful. It’s one of the biggest clichés out there, and I know that sometimes it's hard to believe, but it will get better. Someday, somehow, it will. You are already so strong, and someday, when you’re ready, you will be able and willing to put self-harm in your past. But for now, when the world gets to be too much and you need that escape, please, please, be careful. Think about what you do and how you do it. Don’t do something that results in permanent damage that will plague you the rest of your life.

You are a wonder, unique, priceless treasure. Take care of yourself.


A self-harmer

I will write my weakness into strength.

-Aeralie Brighton, Unbroken

Because I am fire.
And I know what fire is.

-K.V. Johansen, Gods of Nabban

"I will try.
Each day.
That's all I promise."

"As long as you will.
No longer.
It is enough."

-K.V. Johansen, Gods of Nabban

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Svisttt Offline
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Re: To my dear fellow self-harmer - April 3rd 2018, 06:03 PM

This was... actually amazing, beautiful, and touching. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, and I hope you're okay

"hold me
whatever lies beyond this morning
is a little later on."
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cynefin Offline
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Re: To my dear fellow self-harmer - April 4th 2018, 02:15 PM

Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Hopefully sharing was helpful and this may help other people who stumble across it.

Take care of yourself.

Articles & Resources Officer|Lead Moderator|Senior Newsletter Editor
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Nature does not rush, yet everything is accomplished
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Memories made in the mountains stay in our hearts forever
Move the body, quiet the mind
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.:Bibliophile:. Offline
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Re: To my dear fellow self-harmer - April 4th 2018, 04:04 PM

Thank you for sharing this.

One of the reason I stopped cutting was because I would worry I might do nerve damage that would ruin my ability to type. I do a ton of typing here and my typing speed will help when I get a job. There was someone I met who did nerve damage which is what led to the thought that I could too.

I also agree that it can get better. It won't be good all the time but it will come in waves. I look back to where I was 3-5 years ago and there is so much I wish I could have told my past self. I still struggle but I am usually able to look to the future and remind myself that it could get even better a few years from now.

I hope that sharing this helped as well. It sounds like you are an exceptionally strong person. If you ever want to chat feel free to pm me.

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Ashen Offline
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Age: 21
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Re: To my dear fellow self-harmer - April 7th 2018, 07:51 PM

Thank you all so much for actually taking the time to read and reply!!

To Svisttt (cause I still haven't figured out how to quote/reply here): awww, thank you getting there slowly

To Cynefin: Not too sure what made me write it, the words just came and demanded to be written. But I hope it might help others.

To ~Abibliophobe~ : stay strong. one day at a time.

I will write my weakness into strength.

-Aeralie Brighton, Unbroken

Because I am fire.
And I know what fire is.

-K.V. Johansen, Gods of Nabban

"I will try.
Each day.
That's all I promise."

"As long as you will.
No longer.
It is enough."

-K.V. Johansen, Gods of Nabban

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dear, fellow, selfharmer

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