Self harm, causing harm to ones self. It’s a strange notion for some to get their heads around, why would anyone want to cause themselves deliberate harm? For sympathy? Attention? A desperate plea for help? Some people understand and others, not so much.
For me, my self harm has been the hardest to open up about, more taboo if you will. Not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed, but because of people’s naivety towards it. The disapproving looks, the judgement behind their eyes or just plain confusion (believe it or not, some people have no idea what those scars are) which then opens up a hugely awkward conversation, involving me making up some halfhearted lie explaining these parallel scars on my arms, pleading with my eyes for them to realise what a nit wit they’re being. But it can’t be helped, in fact I should be happy that those people haven’t experienced the horror which leads to those scars.
So my depression and self harm went hand in hand, as did my binge eating and later on in life, bulimia. If I’m honest, hurting myself, metal to skin, was not my preferred way of causing harm. That came with food, I found eating much more comforting than drawing blood. So I guess the self harm was quite sporadic in it’s nature, only occurring when I couldn’t fall any lower, when I felt trapped completely. What sticks out the most in my memory was the feeling of wanting to go home, even though that’s exactly where I was. I guess it just didn’t feel secure at that time. The feeling of being so distraught and so uncomfortable in my skin that it was the only way to escape.
With the risk of sounding cliche, I couldn’t continue down this path of self destruction, so along with the counselling I was receiving I decided to work on some stuff at home, that ‘stuff’ being self care.
I strongly believe that self care is hugely over looked, everyone gets so caught up in the day to day crap that the thought of taking time out is pushed aside for over time at work, getting higher grades and trying to better yourself in so many other ways that we forget to better the most important part of ourselves; our mental health. I did this, time and time again, constantly worrying about other people’s feelings over my own, not wanting to let others down, being so wrapped up in everything else that I neglected myself and soon enough my mental health began to suffer. Numerous times I found myself sobbing in a heap on the floor, unable to function and looking for a way to escape, all because I didn’t take the time out to focus on the most important thing; myself.
So it began slowly, I started to notice my triggers; being in control, or rather the lack of control I had and changes in my life whether they were big or small. I then noticed how I felt before a binge or self harm episode. The hardest part was tuning into my feelings, trying to ignore the ingrained behaviours and then changing those behaviours into something positive. So normally when I felt completely out of control with a situation I would hurt myself, it was something I could then control, it eased the worry for a while and took my mind off the current problem, without realising that was my warped version of self care, at that moment in time it was the only way I could cope.
During my recovery it took a lot of time, energy and willpower not to succumb to the bad habits. So I started focusing more on distraction techniques, I started taking more time to tune into my emotions, which resulted in me being able to take a step back and think of a different way to deal with the discomfort. After a while it becomes easier to care for yourself, I’m not sure if it will ever be second nature to me, but I do manage, most days, to check in with myself and to keep the demons at bay.
This is not me saying that self care is a magic path to happiness, I merely believe it’s a good place to start.
If you’ve stuck with me through my ramblings and you are struggling with ideas on how to build yourself back up, here’s a small list on some things that help me.
(Also if you’re struggling and feel the need to talk to someone who’s not professional and not judgemental please feel free to contact me, either through the comment section on here or if you know me personally, through facebook)
Ideas for when you’re feeling slightly more functional:
. Cups of tea (herbal tea is my go to)
. Cleaning your living space
. Colouring, drawing, writing
. Writing in a journal
. Face mask
. Nail painting
. Yoga or a form of light exercise (I love yoga as the breathing tends to have a great calming effect)
. Burning candles or diffusing essential oils (if nothing else, it smells nice)
. Watching re runs of your favourite TV show
. Set yourself small goals for the week ahead
For the days when you’re feeling a little less energetic and a little more like staying in bed:
. Light stretching
. Brushing your teeth (sounds odd, but it gets you out of bed for a few minutes and you’ll feel cleaner)
. Showering and putting on clean Pjs (then returning to bed if needed)
. Reading POSITIVE instagrams and blogs
. Taking a few deep breaths to reconnect
Take care guys!