Sometimes I just feel like curling inwards
Here’s a brief note about my blog I’d like to express; occasionally my posts stress me right, the hell, out! Sometimes after I hit the post button I immediately wish to yank my writing from the hands of the public, have a glass of wine, torch the proverbial page, and forget I ever thought about posting something so personally revealing.
Certian topics, such as yesterday’s blog titled, My Experience With Self Harm Part 2, was particularly difficult to write, post and not worry about it being out there for all to see. It’s a deeply personal piece about recent incidents more than a little raw, and a subject I find myself quite embarrassed of although I would never, ever judge anyone else negatively for having such an affliction.
Sometimes I feel like a sort of flasher, exposing parts of my psyche that might make my readers uncomfortable. Although, unlike a flasher what I’m doing is legal, I still never, ever intend to make my readers feel uncomfortable. My goal has always been to draw attention to the importance of destigmatizing mental illness by using the stories I know best, my own, and sometimes my stories are uncomfortable.
Should my posts ever become unwelcome or tedious please tell me I’ve missed the mark so I can attempt to get back on track.
I genuinely value the opinion of each and every reader and want to provide useful content to those grappling with mental health challenges as well as those trying to gain a better understanding of such things.
I needed to buy long sleeved shirts in May. I needed to buy long sleeved shirts in May because spring is still too chilly for me to wear short sleeves. I needed to buy long sleeved shirts in May because I don’t like the look of the flabby parts of my upper arms in short sleeves, I like to layer a long sleeved shirt underneath.
All of the above statements are true… sort of. These are the half truths I told myself and others as I frantically searched for stores that still had winter stock in the clearance section. It’s such a bargain to buy long sleeved shirts this time of year!
The other half of the truth, the more pressing reason for hunting down long sleeved shirts in May, was an overwhelming urge to cover up more than goose bumps and some saggy skin. I needed long sleeved shirts to cover up my scars. My self inflicted scars.
I went through a very rough time around December 2016 through March 2017 both physically and mentally. Unfortunately I went back to a, seemingly, senseless outlet for my frustration.
For me, self harm is all about guilt. Guilt for causing an inconvenience to others. Guilt for not being able to cope with day to day living like a normal human. Guilt for taking up space in the hospital when there are so many others in need of assistance. Guilt for days, and weeks, and months, and years. Guilt.
Punishment for all the things I feel guiltý about is exactly what guides my blade, burns my flesh. I won’t go into detail about the specifics, let’s just say the scars are deep this time. Deep enough I’m concerned they’ll never fade no matter how much Polysporin I apply. Alas, I think I’m stuck with a few more war wounds.
I am feeling much stronger and healthier now and am pleased to say the urge to hurt myself has passed. One thing that hasn’t passed is my shame. I am ashamed when my arms are displayed in public. I can see the questions in the eyes of those who see my scarred flesh uncovered and I don’t know what to say.
I suppose the best I can do is assure others I’m receiving good care from my family Dr, my new psychiatrist, and my psychologist. I think as far as therapy goes I’m covered. The level of care I’m receiving is keeping me feeling a lot more balanced and a little more hopeful.
What can you do to help someone like me who may cave to summer weather and decide to fight back against the shame and not constantly cover up in long sleeves? Someone who struggles with a symptom of mental illness that is ugly, and painful, and often not talked about? To be honest I’m not entirely sure but I’ll give you my most humble of opinions.
I understand scars will likely draw some attention but please try not to stare. If I bring up the scarring this generally means I’m feeling comfortable and may be an invitation to ask questions you might have or to offer words of support or antidotes about those with common experiences. Tread lightly here though, if you see tears forming or other outward signs of stress like fidgeting, looking around for an exit, or a tightening of the voice, mind the signals and back off but don’t assume you’ve done anything wrong.
Remember self harm is a difficult topic to discuss because it is a symptom of some mental illnesses that have been particularly well hidden and shamed for a long time. It is only recently being spoken about in a more public manner and is hopefully on the road to destigmatization.
Please, please, please don’t play armchair psychiatrist and offer your opinion on what the “cure” is. If the person you’re speaking with is distressed and/or actively self harming, isn’t recieving ongoing psychiatric treatment, and asks for your help, do NOT attempt to handle things on your own.
Your role should be to offer your loving support and assistance contacting a crisis centre such as http://www.distresscentre.com for Calgary, Alberta and surrounding areas via email or phone at (403) 266-4357 or for greater Alberta, http://www.albertahealthservices.ca and searching Access Mental Health.
The best thing you can offer a person trying to cope with self harm, be it an active issue or reflections on past troubles, is non-judgmental love and support. If you feel uncomfortable be honest about it. Remember that it’s ok to suggest talking to a professional instead, then offering a big hug, and redirecting the conversation.
I hope my perspective sheds a little light on what some of the reasons for self harm might be and what friends and family can do to help.
I’m proud to say I’ve now been blogging about my struggles with mental health and illness for a year. This year has been wrought with both ups and downs but through it all I’ve had the chance to write about mental health issues important to me and for this I am overwhelmingly thankful.
Having the chance to write about mental illness, grief, health, love, creativity, healing, chronic pain, and perseverance has allowed me to capture many of the insights into health and illness that might otherwise have passed through my mind without sticking. I have had a chance to pause and reflect on what I’ve learned and all I’ve left to learn. I’m thankful for the opportunity every day.
I have found myself surprised and flattered with the response I’ve received and overwhelmed with the genuine, loving interest about mental illness. In the words of one wise😉 American, “who knew healthcare could be so complicated?”
All kidding aside, I am so pleased my work has managed to offer insight to those on the outside of mental illness trying to be more understanding and empathetic and to those struggling along with me. Destigmatization of mental illness continues to be extremely important to me and this blog represents the contribution I can make to the cause for now. In the future I hope to be able to contribute in a far more impactive manner.
I plan to continue writing whenever I can and I hope that whether my own health is better or worse I can keep on contributing and, hopefully, offering love and support to anyone in need.
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey so far. I hope you will continue to support my future efforts as I appreciate each and every reader more than I can possibly express.
I’ve had the same psychiatrist for the past 9 years. At first he was great. I felt as though he cared, as though he believed in me even when I didn’t believe in me. I shed many a tear in his office but felt motivated to keep trying when I left our appointments.
Over the years, slowly, things began to change. My reward for being a loyal patient seemed to be shorter and ever more terse appointments.
Eventually I was seeing him for about fifteen minutes every three months for a prescription refill and a brief chat that often sounded like this;
“You’re still off work because of your chronic pain problems? It seems much of your depression is tied to the loss of your career.”
“Yes, and I would give anything to be deemed fit enough to go back.”
“You’ve had a hard time but you have to find other things to replace what your job did for you. I think it will be difficult. I would be very upset if I could no longer practice.”
“I’ve been focusing on art and writing as much as I can but it never seems to fully fills the void.”
“Well, keep working at it. Be positive. Here’s your perscription I’d like to see you again in about three months.”
I was delighted one day when he asked about what kind of art mediums I was working with. He seemed genuinely interested and even gave me an assignment.
“I want you to paint a self portrait by our next appointment. Paint how you see yourself. Let’s book a month from now. You bring the painting then and we’ll discuss what it means to you and how it makes you feel.”
I agreed with a smile, “challenge accepted!” and fairly skipped out of his office. I’d never considered a self portrait before, preferring to draw others instead, but the introspection of the assignment intrigued me.
I began my portrait that day with a little help from my art teacher at Grasby Art Studio. I finished my portrait in record time and was thrilled with it which surprised me as I generally don’t like pictures of myself.
I eagerly awaited my appointment and, when the time came, proudly carried my canvas into the Dr’s office.
“I finished the assignment you gave me last time. Would you like to see it?”
He glanced at my file with a confused look.
“You asked me to paint a self portrait. To paint myself as I see myself. I enjoyed the project and I brought the painting to show you like you asked.”
He nodded and I presented the piece for him to look at.
“That’s not really my taste. I don’t think it looks like you.”
That was the last we spoke of it. Dejectedly I put the painting on the floor and asked for a refill on my meds. I couldn’t wait to flee that office.
This one time I didn’t want him to see me cry. I couldn’t find the strength to get angry at him, defend my artistic liscense. I could only think to attack myself and my stupid, ugly painting.
I have since reminded myself that if I love my self portrait and good for me! Fuck what he thinks. The painting hangs proudly on my bedroom wall now.
After careful consideration I’ve decided instead of ditching my art it’s time to ditch the Doc! Obviously it’s time to move on. I’ve found someone new and I’m not going to look back.
Check out http://www.grasbyartstudio.com
“President Trump is mentally ill, ha ha ha!”
I realized recently how morally wrong this statement/joke is. Now that I’ve realized it I hear it everywhere and I just want it to stop. I must admit, in the not-so-distant past, I’ve been guilty of uttering similar phrases about the American president but I’ve stopped. Here’s why I think you might consider stopping as well.
Please don’t think I’m saying Trump is a precious snowflake and his feelings need to be protected. He signed up for endless scrutiny and he certainly behaves in a manner inviting much criticism but as a society we must be responsible with our criticism.
Once we make it ok to constantly question Trump’s mental health and also make his mental health a punchline on a regular basis we make it ok for this to be a real-world criticism, a real-world punchline.
This is not an ok trend to nurture. Hasn’t society supposedly been trying to destigmatize mental illness? Isn’t it supposed to be ok to be coping with mental illness and leading a rich and successful life?
Sure President Trump, in my opinion, is not an example of the type of human we need in the world but please let’s stop using questions about his mental health as insults and punchlines to prove this point.
Mental illness is very real for many individuals, including me. In order to make progress with destigmatization we must remember to shine positivity and hope onto mental health issues rather than using speculation about a person’s mental health to tear them down.
I have just been released from hospital after spending 2 months in the psychiatric unit for reasons I’m not ready to share just yet.
I feel overwhelmed almost every minute of every day with every fibre of my being. Overwhelmed. This word rattles round my head and I’m having difficulty putting the overwhelmed feeling aside and just noticing all the beauty and love there is around me. I will get there. I will.
I am grateful to my friends and family for their patients, kindness, and understanding. Wholehearted thanks to you all❤
This is all I can write for now. And that is OK.
Take care dear readers.