Release

A countdown for the number of days I’ve been self harm free

I was trying to explain to someone recently the conflicting feelings that come into my head around self harm. I want to self harm but really I don’t, I keep thinking how much better it was to have an outlet for the way I feel but really I know that it wouldn’t help, it didn’t help, not really, not properly but that doesn’t stop my mind jumping to it when I’m stressed or anxious or overwhelmed.

I haven’t self harmed in 391 days but I self harmed from the age of 17 to 32 and intermittently before that, it’s not that I want to self harm it’s just that I want to breathe and not feel like I’m suffocating, I want to stop feeling like I’m dragging a weight around with me or wading through custards and when it’s been something I’ve done for so long it’s an immediate thought an ingrained reaction that my mind jumps to when I feel bad.

I’m not naive I know that just because or not self harmed in a long time it doesn’t mean I won’t ever do it again because I can’t say for sure that I know I’ll never self harm again and even now it’s not that I never do anything unhealthy/ potentially harmful or things that could be soon as negative ways of managing things they’re just less destructive and don’t involve me ending up in a&e. The longer time goes on the bigger the stakes, once I was past 6 months I’d beat my previous longest time, then it was 7 months, 9 months and finally a year.

Sometimes people say what can I do to help or make things easier but I don’t always want them to do anything other than listen or try and see things from my position, I know some people are more practical than others and their reaction is to look for a solution but sometimes the solution is just please listen to me and hear what I’m saying when I say how overwhelmed and stressed I feel, how I miss people I was close to, how alone I feel, how the light at the end of the tunnel feels very dim and distant right now that’s what can be done to help.

Sometimes I just want someone to take me down to the carpark and let me cry

Stranger than fiction

I didn't have a picture of a tightrope, the treetop walk at Kew is the closest thing.
A large metal walk way amongst the treetops at Kew Gardens

I’m not a fiction writer, not that I consider myself a writer as such I enjoy blogging and writing workshops and training but I can’t write stories. I admire people who can write fiction, recently I’ve been reading quite a lot of fan fiction, now I know the reputation a lot of fanfic has and the sort of images it brings up in a lot of people’s minds – badly written sec stories often with interesting pairings and while there is plenty of that it’s not what I read.

I read a description recently where a character was described as “walking a tightrope across a canyon of pain, trying to keep his balance, occasionally swaying slightly“ although this was a metaphor for physical pain I think it’s also very accurate for mental health and the balancing act of trying not to over balance from one problem or another and stay on course. I’m struggling with anxiety and low motivation and the 8 -10 week wait for another CMHT appointment has now been 15 weeks with no appointment in sight.

My tightrope is currently swinging between work and benefits with a chasm of fuck knows what beneath me too deep to see the bottom but with nothing good down there.

I’m behind with work and struggling to talk to anyone about it, I’m frustrated at myself and I’ve come to such a roadblock with this that it’s making me feel stupid which is why I’m struggling to ask for help or admit that I’m having a complete mental block, I’ve always struggled to ask for help with things I don’t understand for fear of looking stupid (or being told I’m stupid). Other issues at work currently stressing me out are things beyond my control such as not enough volunteers and having to rush training new ones and now someone close to me is leaving. Have a mentioned before that I struggle with change? Especially changes with relationships? The last couple of weeks have been an emotional shit storm from hiding in the toilets crying because I’m actually devastated that they’re leaving to losing my temper and shouting at them due to a build up of stress and frustration.

On the other side the benefits and money stress which is something that doesn’t just impact on me, my tax credits have been stopped in what I can only see as an hmrc cock up which has also had a knock on effect in stopping my housing benefit and having to repay the council what they’ve paid so far, I recently had to reapply for my PIP/ disability benefits and still haven’t heard back from that, the scary thing about this is if I lose it completely I won’t be eligible anymore for tax credits and my boyfriend will lose the carers allowance he gets for supporting me.

As I can’t currently see an end to the tightrope I just have to hope I can keep my balance and not fall over the edge like the character the quote was about.

Part of the problem?

Dinos back
A green backgroud with pink dinosaur cartoon carrying a black brefcase and pink walking stick. The words dinos back are at the top in black

Guess who’s back? Back again, dinos back, please like and share.

So it’s been a while, I’ve had to do lots of writing for work recently which hasn’t left me with much brain capacity to write for enjoyment, but I’m back and return with a rant.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is stress which is ironic as stress and work are the reasons I haven’t blogged recently. It often feels like a week can’t go by without there being some kind of awareness day/ week/ month so far this year we’ve had time to talk day, self injury awareness day, university mental health day, eating disorders awareness week and no doubt many others. This month is borderline personality disorder awareness month normally I’d write something about these or use them as a springboard to write about a related subject but this time I’m writing about other peoples way of promoting these awareness days.

I know that I often use these awareness days and campaigns to promote my blog and that’s not what I have an issue with but people using it to promote their illness or compete over who is the illest especially on social media. Mental health problems and chronic illness already have so much stigma attached and there are so many misconceptions around them, the biggest areas of stigma I’ve found are within the medical system from Drs and medical staff I’ve had several occasions where I’ve been poorly treated and discriminated against due to my mental health and especially self harm. So why when there is already stigma attached do people within the mental health and chronic illness “communities” claim to be “raising awareness” by glorifying their illness or posting things that just add to the misconceptions?

Posting pictures of your self harm as part of an awareness day isn’t going to reduce stigma, posting pictures of your face scratched up or countless pictures of your starved body is shocking and attention grabbing but ultimately adds to the idea that self harm is purely graphic and bloody, that personality disorders are all about self harm or that eating disorders are about being thin and fragile, mental illness is complex but it’s not pretty and we don’t need more images of fragile, delicate white girls or bloody and bruised bodies in the name of raising awareness. If I had £1 for every time a health professional made a throw away comment about people with personality disorders or treated someone’s self harm in an unprofessional or even cruel way I would be a wealthy Dino.

We need to change how we raise awareness and avoid glorifying mental health problems as a way to show the reality of living with a mental health issue because the reality isn’t just what’s visible and just showing that side of things not only gives a very narrow view but also undermines people who don’t experience mental illness this way, it’s a broad spectrum and everyone is different and we all experience things, everyone has different symptoms and lifestyles, mental illness is invisible not everyone has scars (at least not physical ones) and that should be the message we send that mental health problems aren’t uncommon and they’re increasing and you can’t always tell just by looking at someone.

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