March 18, 2019
I’m feeling the tug of an old, hidden secret I buried over twenty-five years ago. It resurfaced this August. It is very common in young teens mostly but in adults as well. According to Crissestext.org “People who hurt themselves most often start as teens or young adults, with adolescent rates of nonsuicidal self-injury being tracked at rates from 15% to 40% depending on the study.”
I started around the age of 12. It was masked as a suicide attempt but I quickly realized the cutting release from the pain came at the sharp end of the razor blade and the appearance of the droplets of blood. The rush of calm and serenity and the blood would flow was like taking an Ativan. It took the heavy feeling away and brought me peace. I was able to face whatever calamity I was facing.
Now as an adult, living with the bipolar, I have been symptom free for the past four weeks. A little hiccup here and there. A day of feeling down. A day of feeling up. But not recognizable pattern to indicate a swing in emotion. Yet I have felt a buildup of tension. Something I don’t’ have on my graph to gauge. The need to purge a backup of some sort of emotion to stay even. To keep my mood level. The small incision in the arm frees up the mood to sort itself out.
I have solved that by running a razor blade up my left arm. Just a quick small cut. It hasn’t been a big deal as it has been cold weather and everyone has been wearing jackets. It has only become a big deal as in today where the weather warmed up and I had three equal sized cuts up the inside fleshy part of my arm at varied stages of healing.
I felt ashamed. I knew I shouldn’t do it. I was, am, worried what others will make of it. Will I be sent home? Will they make me be evaluated? Will I be fit to work? Am I sick? It was a decision I made to ease my pain. A temporary solution that eased my suffering. A trick that would have stayed hidden from the world.
My arm is my preferred area to harm. It always has been. As a 7th grader, I wore long sleeves and lots of bangle bracelets. It covered everything up. Bangles are not that in style at the moment, plus the cuts are fairly up my entire arm as if I’m marking them in stages.
I have thought of clever things to say. “I was gardening and I got my arm stuck in some chicken wire.” “I caught my arm in some old student council mess left over from a dance in a long lost box.” “A desk caught me. It was sharp underneath. I don’t know what it was.” Since the marks are in unison. All these answers make sense. They are equal distance apart. Same direction. Equal lengths. Except they are at different stages in healing.
I covered them in bandages today. Nobody noticed and if they did, they didn’t say anything. I tried to leave my jacket on for as long as I could.
I don’t plan for this to be my out. I know I need to stop. I am working on my coping skills. Writing. Calling or texting a friend. Holding a piece of ice. All these things have worked in the past. Drawing. Walking. On top off all this, I have given up smoking. Normally, I would just go have a smoke, but that is also off the table. I know I should have taken this one at a time, but it just couldn’t wait.
I need to take things seriously and this is serious. I will work on this day by day. Starting with getting rid of the sharp objects. That’s where to start. That’s the starting place. Lord give me the strength to deal with the pain through not giving myself what looks like pain but relief.