Seeing My Past

Monday was the first time it was warm enough to be wearing shorts this year where I live in America. It is always exciting when it starts to feel like spring especially when it is around my birthday (which is this Saturday)!

I was sitting in my boyfriend’s car while he went to get us pizza for dinner. I looked down at my legs which were covered in scars. Sadly they have not faded like I hoped that they would.

*Before you go any further please check yourself because I’m going to talk about self-harm. If you are not in the place to read something like this please check out a different post of mine! Like this or this.*

They’re scars from 2016 when I was really struggling with self-harm during my episode of severe depression. During that time I didn’t care what my body looked like, I wanted the relief that cutting brought to me at my lowest point.

I don’t regret doing what I did to myself during those horrible months. I regret other times that I have self-harmed but not then.

“But Megan why?” you might ask.

A great question! I was having constant suicidal thoughts, wasn’t eating and wanted all of the pain I was in to end. My mind told me that the only way for me to escape my suicidal thoughts was to end my life.  So instead of doing that, I cut myself.

I had been struggling with self-harm for 5 years at that point so this negative coping skill was one that I was very familiar with.

I’m not encouraging anybody to self-harm as a way to cope with mental illness. But as I reflect back on that time in my life, I give myself a pass. I wasn’t myself, my mind wasn’t functioning properly at all.

Even though I am left with the scars on my body, I forgive myself for it all.

I don’t think forgiveness is spoken about much among people who struggle with self-harm. It really should be though! We have to forgive ourselves for what we did when we weren’t feeling mentally well. We forgive then try to find a different coping skill next time.

I still have scars from when I began cutting at 18 so I know these will not fade for a long time. I have to accept my past, love myself despite my challenges and be confident even though my past pain is carved onto my body.

If you struggle with self-harm, have you forgiven yourself? If not, what’s holding you back? Leave me a comment please!

Self-Harm by Restricting Food

Self-harm is not limited to cutting, burning, biting, scratching, etc. your skin. In a recent post I saw on The Mighty (a great community for people with mental illness, disabilities and chronic health issues) about how self-harm goes beyond those things.

After reading that (which now I can’t find it anywhere so I can’t even link it for you guys), I realized how many of the things I was doing the author classified as self-harm. Two that I think off the top of my head were restricting food and not acclimating to temperature changes.

Food Restriction

This has been a struggle for me for a few years now. Especially when I’m anxious my stomach gets so tense that I feel like I can’t eat. When I’m like that I can only eat a very small amount of food or I will feel sick.

And even if my anxiety isn’t making my stomach tense but I’m still anxious, sometimes I just don’t want to eat despite my stomach growling. This is happening today. I am feeling anxious and depressed today so I don’t want to have anything to eat. I’m quite hungry but I don’t want to take a single bite.

Am I punishing myself? Sort of.

Is this a healthy thing? Not really.

Being Too Cold

I really didn’t realize that this was a form of self-harm. So what I mean is that if I’m cold, I won’t do anything about it as a sort of punishment to myself. I don’t usually do this as often with being hot because I hate being too hot.

In the winter my office is usually quite cold (the building was built in 1929 what can you do?) and I have a space heater to help but I don’t often use it. Instead I’ll just be cold. I’ll suffer through it just because I can.

This is a strange one to explain because I don’t entirely understand my reasoning for it.

Do you have any trouble with restricting food or letting yourself suffer by being too cold/hot?

I am experiencing PMDD right now which makes me feel every emotion all at the same time. So there’s a lot going on in my head right now so it’s very hard to get through this time of the month. Right now it feels like my swimming upstream in a river of peanut butter.

Laying In Bed

I think I have come to the conclusion that my PMS is not just regular old PMS. I think that I have PMDD or something because this past week has been absolute hell for me.

I wrote earlier this week about how PMS amplifies my mental illness. This week has been way way way worse than normal. I can’t function at all!

I have been drowning in my depression for days. Today and yesterday I spent almost all day in bed. I haven’t showered since Friday and I have mostly lost my appetite. Today I am not crying every other minute like I was for the last few days so that is one positive thing!

Where I live we had a snow storm (that really wasn’t even that bad, we’ve totally had worse) so it’s been an excuse to stay inside and not do anything.

Today I keep saying, “I’ll get up at noon.” I stay in bed. “I’ll get up at 1.” I’m still in bed. “I’ll get up at 2.” I’m sitting up but I’m still in my bed.

While I’ve been in bed, negative thoughts keep buzzing in my mind. Stuff that I know I shouldn’t be thinking about but they don’t seem to want to leave me.

Thursday I have therapy so I’m going to talk with my therapist about this horrible week I’ve had. I don’t know if she will have any answers with how I can survive my next period but maybe she will have some ideas.

Online when I was looking for what people typically do for PMDD/severe PMS is to put them on birth control (I’m on it) or antidepressants (on that too). So right now I’m feeling that it’s all hopeless. That once a month I’m going to be losing my sanity and damaging my relationships and health.

I am not ok with that at all.

My mental health had been pretty good until Monday. I felt like I was on the top of a hill then pushed down into the fucking ocean to sink to the bottom where I’m wrapped up in seaweed.

Writing this is actually making me feel a little better. I might be able to get out of bed now, I’m not quite sure. I want to take a bubble bath but I can’t seem to find the energy.

Depression really drains me of all my energy. Doing the simplest task, like showering, seems nearly impossible. I hope I can survive this bullshit.

The Physical Scars

*TRIGGER WARNING* I’m talking about self-harm today, if you are in a sensitive place please stay safe. Skip this post if you need to!*

I have been ashamed of the physical scars that have been left behind from years of self-harm. Some are fainter than others but all are still reminders of miserable, painful moments in my life. Times where I fell to the bottom hoping I would bounce back up like a ball and not lay there on the ground like a rock.

Each scar was created out of desperation for relief from loneliness, suicidal thoughts and heartbreak. In those moments, cutting myself was what I thought would help me.

When I started hurting myself on my legs I got very nervous about wearing shorts and swim suits in the summertime. I worried that someone would see (whether that be a stranger or someone I know) what I had done to myself. Most of the time I never told anyone I had hurt myself, it was my little secret.

Showing my skin meant my secret was out for the world to see. It was kinda of terrifying.

This past summer I read a few perspectives of others who had a similar problem with scars on their bodies. Some of them said, you know it doesn’t matter, wear what you want and if somebody makes a comment then they’re the asshole. That was a good enough explanation for me so I wore shorts all summer.

I braved the world with my legs out and nobody said a damn thing to me.

If this is something you’re struggling with, if you feel super uncomfortable at the thought of people seeing your scars then cover them up for now. I hope that at some point you will be able to let your guard down and show the world your beautiful skin!

Stay strong! –Megan

Curbing Self-Harm Urges

When you’re in one of those intense waves of depression, it can be difficult to think clearly. I’ve struggled with this countless times, there were times where I thought the only way to calm down or feel better was to self-harm.

For seven years I’ve been faced with the decision on whether to cut or not. I have chosen to act on that desire more times than I will ever admit. They are scars I never want to count. Turning this into a positive, I’ve said no many more times than I have said yes.

Coping mechanisms and rational thinking have helped me through this tough journey. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Rubber Bands and Hair Ties

One of the first coping mechanisms I learned about was snapping a hair tie or rubber band wherever I wanted to hurt myself. This really hurts depending on how hard you snap it. It has helped me and of course there are no scars left afterwards which is a plus.

Find a Distraction

Finding something to take your mind off of the urge to self-harm, anything positive or makes you feel better. My most often technique is to play a video on YouTube that I can really pay attention to. I will watch very intently to push the desire to hurt myself back down into my brain.

Sometimes I’ll combine this with knitting, covering up with fuzzy blankets and dabbing essential oil on my wrists to engage more of my senses. I’ve learned the more senses I can engage, the easier it is to distract myself from my own thoughts.

Leave

Wherever you’re at try and leave that place even for a couple minutes to clear your mind. Go to a different part of your house/apartment, go to Target (that place has healing powers), walk around your block or sit in your bathroom for a moment. A change of scenery can sometimes put me in a different state of mind.

Think of Someone You Love

This can be a sensitive topic for someone with mental illness because so often we are told by our depression that there is nobody who loves us. My brain has screamed that at me for so many years that it can be difficult not to believe it.

Let’s push the possibility that depression is right out of the picture; there is someone who deeply cares for you. Think about that person before you hurt yourself. If that person was in the room with you, what would they say? If you showed them the marks, how would they respond?

One of the things that has helped me not resort to self-injury is thinking about my boyfriend. I know he doesn’t want me to do that to myself, it has brought him to tears seeing what I have done. So I think of that moment, I think of him because my actions don’t only affect me, they affect him too.

Well that last part got intense for me. I’m going to write a couple more posts about self-harm that I hope can be encouraging/relatable for anyone reading. I’ve been ashamed to tell anyone that I’ve cut myself on and off for 7 years but right now I feel brave enough to share my experience with others.

Stay strong and I hope you’ll all be alright! –Megan