Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Glimpse Inside my Mind - A Look Back at my SI

**TW - SI**

I picked up a new book at the Family Christian Store, called "Inside a Cutter's Mind" by Jerusha Clark with Dr. Earl Henslin. It's geared less toward those who SI, and more toward those involved with them - like counselors, clergy, loved ones, family, etc. But I found the book wonderful. It was less graphically descriptive and talked more about the WHY - from all angles - mental, physical and spiritual. The book put many of my feelings into words. It also caused me to re-visit some of my older posts about my own SI experience (Here, Here , Here , Here and Here) for just a few of them) Sad to say that things have gotten "worse" and I'm now more entrenched in SI-ing. Because, as this book says, it works. On some fundamental level, it works.

Some of the things from the book that spoke to me -

"The desire to cut is like longing for sleep after a tiring day - cutting seems more like than a want."

Yes, it is a "need" for me. Sometimes just thinking about it and knowing I can do it later when I get home, is enough to bring the panic down to a manageable level.

"Self-harmers on the whole 'are either too numb to cry or find tears woefully inadequate to express and release the overwhelming; pent-up emotions they feel.' As another self-injurer writes, "I need to see [the] bad feelings bleed away...I couldn't cry and bleeding was a different form of crying.'"

I don't cry often. I used to not cry at all. Now I will cry some - only on my own. Not in front of anyone. It's never when I want to cry though, or need to cry. It's always when I don't have time to deal with my emotions or am not in a "safe place" to cry. So I push the tears away. Then later, when I am in a place I feel "safe" enough to cry (at home usually) I find myself unable to cry. So, I use the SI to cry instead. SI is my way to express myself since I find myself woefully inadequate at expressing myself verbally.

SI is a way to keep from killing yourself. Rather than an exit strategy, self-inflicted violence serves as a life preserver for people drowning in emotional pain. In the words of one self-harmer, she is slowly "dying to survive."......Self-harmers often believe they are preserving their life by cutting, burning, or breaking pain from their body.

SI is my preservation. When the lure of the pills becomes strong and the concrete bridge pillars look too enticing, I cut instead. I cut the bad feelings out. It's like I live on a 1 - 10 scale. Levels 1-3 I have no desire to SI. Level 4-5 I start feeling urges. Level 6-8 I actually do SI. Level 9-10 I do not SI because I know it will be way out of control and bad. It's like I have to get down to a 6-8 level first - sort of a self-protection type thing.

I was reading a prior post I wrote (
here) about WHY I SI. I wrote then, I've never ended up in the hospital, needed stitches, gotten an infection, or anything else dangerous from SI-ing. In fact, at this point I have no scars (well, maybe a few from picking on my arms). I keep myself supplied with band-aids, antibacterial cream and mederma anti-scar lotion. That wasn't too long ago. Actually it wasn't too terribly long ago that I didn't cut with razors - instead I pinned (back in February when I "just" poked with a safety pin). Then I "graduated" to razors. And now, while I can say I've never had stitches - I can't say I've never needed them. There are a few that probably did. I definitely have scars - lines as well as words - ugly words - that will be on my body forever.

Excerpt in book "From A Million Little Pieces" - "It Flows through my veins like a slow, lazy virtue, urging me to do damage...I want it to go away. I want it to leave me. When [they Fury] is at its full, I am often at it's mercy, but not now. I know what to do to make it go away; I know how to make it disappear. Feed it pain and it will leave me. Feed it pain and it will go away."

That spoke to me - that is exactly what I do. Feed my emotional pain - replace it with physical and it goes away.

I have been looking back through old blog posts, journal posts, emails, etc (I think Beauty is the one who started this reminiscing thing!) In some ways (a lot of ways) I'm pleased at my progress. In other ways, I'm sad. Especially on the SI front. I've "progressed" to where I (somewhat) freely talk about it. I've even worn shorts out in public and gone swimming in a bathing suit. I still panic about it though. I've "progressed" to where I actually inquired of a store clerk where they keep the razors in their store. But then bought other, more generic, things to hide the fact that I was buying band-aids, a red washcloth and razor blades. I've "progressed" to where I actually bought this latest SI book in person at a book store and not anonymously online. But then panicked when the name of the book popped up in big letters on the register. I'm not so sure how much of this really is progress??

The book says that "I just want to let you know that I've never seen anyone fully recover from the urge to self-harm." That's a disheartening thought. I guess maybe it is like smoking - something I gave up a long time ago. But the urge strikes on occasion, when the environment is right. I guess SI really is like other addictions (drugs, alcohol) where you are always "recovering" and not "recovered."

I'm disappointed in myself for ending up here. I promised people (especially T) not to use anything other than a pin, to take 5 minutes before SI-ing, to only do it at home, to take meds first. I broke my word - repeatedly. Not something I take lightly. I feel like this method I use to control is controlling me. It's like a train running away without brakes down the track. I'm not sure where to go from here. I don't want to make more promises I can't keep.


Anonymous said...

Enola, I have to say that some of what you write about sounds familiar. I used to abuse laxatives and exercise to try to maintain some sort of control over my life - the cycle was a little different, in that I would eat to numb my feelings (avoid feeling them, really), and then try to purge to escape the consequences.

It wasn't until I found myself sitting on a bathroom floor in a public laundromat because I was too dizzy to get up that I realized that I had 2 choices: I could continue doing what I was doing and end up dead or incapacitated, or I could find other ways that were less damaging to my body that would allow me to deal with things in a better way.

It took a long time - that incident in the bathroom was in 1988, and it's only been in the last few years that I've felt more like I can express my feelings in appropriate ways.

I had to learn to put names on the feelings first, and I needed help from a stress clinic that actually helped me the most - stress caused so many competiting feelings that I couldn't sort them out on my own.

But it helped to not look at the process as "stopping" doing those destructive things and to look at what I was trying to learn as the goal itself. It was hard to let go of the "friend" I'd spent so much time with, and it was (and still is) hard to see my physical habitat in its current shape, but I made the choice to be healthy, and that helped me. I hope it helps you, too, even if it's just a little bit....

Anonymous said...

that should have been "competing" feelings..... Sorry!

Lynn said...


I understand, friend. I really do. My heart goes out to you. It can eventually end, though. Hang in there, honey.

~Sister in Survival~ said...

I have heard you mention Beth Moore more than once...she was on the local radio station tonight during dinner...here is the link for her broadcast for Tuesday, August 21.

Listen to it! You can overcome!

2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I am praying for you.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we also get Si its a horrible place to be, it consumes and it rages sending deep healing hugs for you (((((((((Enola)))))))))

Rising Rainbow said...

At first I couldn't figure out what SI meant. Guess that tells that I didn't ever get involved in that form of self torture. But I had my own ways to torture myself. I sure understand all of the pain it took to get you to this place.

Austin said...

I think I may have lost my comment. oops.

I was saying that I understand SI and that I don't do it to kill myself but to relieve pain.

Also, when someone tells me not to cut it angers me. I get rather upset about it. It's mine and they can't have it, I think. Oh it upsets me so much when someone tells me not to cut. I hold onto it like a prized possession, like it's the only thing in the world that I own and no one, not my therapist, not my friends, can have it. This poem here is about being told not to cut.


I apologize if this is the second comment coming through with the same content. I lost the other one when flipping back to get my link.

until again,