Friday, 16 November 2012

Withdrawal

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I need to talk about withdrawal. I'm not talking about medication here but something else.

Today I am 38 days cut free. I thought this was a good thing. In the short term, this really is great. It is the longest I have been. It is a step closer to my goal, my scars are healing up nicely and who knows, by the Summer I may be able to wear skirts/shorts again without several pairs of tights.



So, you want to know what the problem is? WITHDRAWAL! That's right. I'm suffering from withdrawal from cutting. How is that possible you might ask? Let me explain it to you; for me, cutting has been like a drug. When I cut, I feel a euphoric rush of adrenaline. I feel better, I feel freer, my mind feels clearer. Suddenly, I've stopped cutting and now I can't find that euphoria. I have no release. No adrenaline rush... That, my friends, is withdrawal!




I have started having visions/hallucinations/flashbacks, I can't sleep properly, my motor control is suffering, I'm hearing voices, I'm feeling angry and irritable all the time. I haven't started lashing out yet but I know I will. I don't want to but that's what happens.

Before I was cutting again (after the first time there was a gap of a few years) I was a very angry person. I was in a very violent relationship and my outlet was aggression. I would punch walls, smash things, break things and eventually, I almost killed my ex partner! He was a bully. He would tell me how to dress, how to act, what to like, what to eat... He checked my emails and text messages and I couldn't leave the house without him. If I did anything that displeased him, he'd hit me. He was very clever with this. He wouldn't hit me where bruises might be visible. If by chance a bruise WAS visible, he'd tell me what to wear in order to cover it up. Also, I'm quite thick skinned so I don't bruise easily, this worked to his advantage.



Things came to a head one June afternoon in. I remember the day as clear as if it was yesterday. It was in the midst of the World Cup and my mum's birthday was approaching. I had received a compensation cheque for an injury I'd sustained some years earlier. With this cheque I was going to go shopping and buy my mum a birthday present. I'd gone to the bathroom to take a shower and I took my phone with me so I could listen to my music. My ex, P, came to the bathroom and tried to open the door. It was locked. Since it was just the two of us living together, we didn't tend to bother with locking doors. This obviously angered P and he started pounding on the door. I simply ignored him and continued to shower. I could hear him thumping and kicking at the door. I knew he'd hit me for this so I continued my shower regardless. I got dressed at a leisurely pace and exited the bathroom. He was stood outside the door waiting. I could see the anger in his face and I simply ignored him and walked past him. He started to shout accusations at me. I'd taken my phone with me to make secret calls, I was sending dirty pictures to other men, I was performing sex acts via video call for other men. This was his reasoning for me locking the door. All of which were false.



I continued to ignore him and he pulled me by my hair and shoved me against the wall. My head hit the wall and I simply saw red. I lunged at him and grabbed him by the throat. I pushed him up against the opposite wall, I'd somehow gathered enough strength to lift him clean off the ground. His face was turning a deep purple and his eyes were bulging. I hissed at him; "If you ever touch me again I will fucking kill you." All the while my grip was tightening around his throat. His eyes were watering and bloodshot. He was drooling and his breath was shallow and raspy. Suddenly, I realised what I was doing and I let him go. He slid to the floor choking,retching, crying and gasping for air.  In that moment I grabbed my bag and ran from the house.


I have neither before nor since been so violent towards another person. I almost killed him. I knew that and I didn't care.



After I left P, I spent 2 weeks in a drug and alcohol filled haze before returning to London to try and restore my life.

The intervening years between then and now are somewhat hazy but at some point my self harm started again. It was on and off for a length of time until about 3 years ago or so when it became a regular thing again.

Does it make more sense now? How I'm actually suffering withdrawal??

So, what do I do?! I'm trying very hard to simply push through. I know that relapses happen often in the withdrawal period. I've tried snapping an elastic band against my wrist. I have also tried distraction methods. I'm trying to talk to my Mr Aussie about things but it's so difficult. I don't want him to suffer because of my suffering and I know that depression can be "contagious" in this manner. Given that he is younger than me, I worry about the effect my problems will have on him. Furthermore, he has grown up around depression and mental illness and therefore he is more predisposed to suffering himself.




I have reached out to a service I believe may be of help to me but right now I feel like I'm wading through thick mud and getting nowhere fast!

I would be interested to hear if anyone else has suffered this kind of withdrawal with self harm and how they managed to overcome it.

Until next time,

Keep Smiling :):

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Triggers

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I have been asked a few times now what a 'trigger' is.

Triggers can mean different things for different people. It could be a film, a word, a picture... Sometimes, we don't even know what has triggered us. Either way, it often works in the same manner. You see/hear/experience something that shifts your mood. Oftentimes, with myself, triggers shift me from good to bad but they can go the other way too. From good to manic.




It is often difficult for me to be aware of what has triggered me. More often than not I don't actually know what has triggered me unless I specifically think about it (which I want to avoid doing if I want to change my state of mind!)

Yesterday I watched a film that triggered me slightly. You may have heard of it, it's called Boys Don't Cry and stars Hillary Swank.  It's about a young girl, Teena Brandon, who suffers a gender identity crisis and tries to live her life as a boy. Unfortunately, this is actually based on a true story. 


The main topic of the film isn't what left me feeling triggered. It was several side themes - bullying, self harm, having to live your life as someone else.

Another film that triggers me is Pink Floyd's The Wall. I have actually seen this film several times and I really enjoy watching it since I am a Pink Floyd fan. I don't think though that I have yet managed to watch it and NOT be affected.



I imagine you want to know why I would watch things that I know could trigger me? Well, the answer is simple! I don't want to lead a sheltered life, I don't want to be wrapped in cotton wool, hidden from the darkness that is prevalent in everyday society. Besides, if it's not a film that triggers me it could quite easily be something that I would encounter in everyday life. Seeing a knife in my kitchen, a razor blade in my bathroom, a song that I've heard a thousand times, someone mentioning the words "cut", "scar", "alone"... I could go on but the list would be endless. So, you see, I cannot really avoid triggers. 

I'm not saying I actively seek to be triggered though. That is not my intention at all. By watching The Wall several times I am not trying to trigger myself. I am simply enjoying music by an artist I love in a visual format. Also, I want to be able to understand the journey that 'Pink' is on as it's not dissimilar to my own journey and, indeed, the journey that anyone suffering mental anguish is on.




Using my Facebook page to communicate with other sufferers often also triggers me. I try to accept as many people as I can on my page but I do seem to pick up people who trigger me a lot. I self harm and yes, I load my pictures onto my Facebook page. I don't do this for attention, despite what many people say. I do this so that I can actively keep an eye on myself, also there are people on my page who like to keep an eye on me too. The album itself has a trigger warning on it and I always delete the pictures from my news feed so that it doesn't show up on other people's pages. Some simply aren't so considerate. 

Some people say they understand how I feel. They say that they know what I'm going through. 



I'm not saying that NO ONE understands or that I am the ONLY person suffering such things but there are many people who come across my Facebook page and try and put themselves in my shoes. I also encounter people in my day-to-day life who say the same. They may have felt a little bit of depression, they may have had a little upset and felt like perhaps they wanted to end their lives in a fit of rage or whatever emotions "normal" people feel. This is most certainly something that triggers me more than many things. I don't ever ask for sympathy for what I am going though, it's my experience, it belongs to me. I share my experiences to help others but I would never say to another sufferer "I know how you feel" because even if we're going through the same things, I DON'T know how they're feeling. People deal with issues in different ways. No two people suffer the same traumas in the same manner.




Today, I am 30 days cut free! 

WOOP!! 



Two weeks ago, I had a fight with my new boyfriend, it was a silly thing which I was mostly to blame for. We'd had a nice evening out with some of my friends but we went to a place where there were demons for me which I mistakenly thought I was ready to face. Unfortunately, this triggered me quite badly. I hadn't managed to explain this to Mr Aussie as I tend to bury my head in the sand and pretend things aren't happening.



The thing is, you may try to run from your problems but they will ALWAYS follow you and mine did! We'd finished out night out, me being my typical moody self and went back to where Mr Aussie lives. We had a bit of fun and a few laughs on the journey back to his but when we got into the cab things changed. I'm quite a domineering person in a relationship. Don't think BDSM and bondage... I just like to be in control. That way I don't get hurt as bad (or so is my intention!). Mr Aussie is of a similar personality and did or said something that pissed me off, I can't quite remember what it was and frankly, I don't think it was even that bad. However, I had 2 options, fight or flight! I didn't want to fight him so I ran!




I don't know the area where Mr Aussie lives very well so he was, of course, concerned but when I run I need to be alone. Again, I hadn't really explained about this to him so his reaction was normal. 

I just walked and ended up by a small brook. I find water very peaceful for some reason so I just sat there watching it rushing over the stones, watching the fish swimming and wishing I was one of them. At some point, I remembered I had a razor blade in my purse. I'm not sure why I carried it with me as I would never cut myself when I'm out and about. Mr Aussie was calling/texting me but I kept ignoring him. I took the blade out of my purse and started mindlessly playing with it. Next thing I heard Mr Aussie calling out my name. I still didn't want to see him so I ignored him then he appeared on the other side of the brook. He couldn't figure out a way around so he simply walked through the water to reach me! 



I was still angry so I didn't care that he'd done that. I didn't care how worried he was about me, I just wanted to be on my own! He tried to talk to me but I ignored him. He then must have noticed I had a blade in my hand so obviously he was concerned, he didn't say anything to me but I could hear him muttering and fretting behind me. That just made me angrier at him so I just continued to sit, watching the water, playing with the blade and wishing I was one of those fish just carefree in the water.

Eventually, I managed to arouse myself, I realised what I was doing to Mr Aussie and simply threw the blade into the water and watched it sink. In that split second as I watched it go, I wanted more than anything to jump in after it but I let it go. It doesn't sound like much but that for me was a very big achievement! I then got up and silently followed him back to his.




When we got back to his, I noticed his hand was somewhat bruised and swollen. In his panic looking for me he'd punched something! We'd already had a discussion about this. This was self harm. The same as me cutting myself. We spoke about things and I explained to him why I ran and how it is something that I do often and if he wants to be with me it's simply something that he has to get used to. This may sound selfish but I'd rather run away than get into a physical fight with him.

The thing is, I love Mr Aussie so I know I need to change to make our relationship work. We both need to make changes and hopefully we'll get through these times together. Being 30 days cut free is a HUGE achievement for me and is the longest I've been since I started cutting again whenever it was!! 

So these are the things that I go through when I'm feeling triggered. I'd like to hear about other people's triggers and how other people deal with them.

Until next time,

Keep Smiling :):