Tag Archives: stress

Glimmers of Answer

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Sometimes they come to us, those little answers, those tiny ideas that help us find ways to move forward. Today I had one, a small one, an answer to a question that’s plagued me for almost 2 decades.

Why do I hurt myself? Why do I self-harm?

In high school, I talked candidly about my harm with a friend. He asked why I did it. I told him it was because it was a way to feel, but that answer never really felt completely right.

In the work and counselling I’ve done since, I’ve been asked again and again why I harm, why I used to harm, why I stopped. I’ve never had an answer. Everything that I’ve read talks about it being a mental thing, that you’re in so much pain mentally that you want to feel it physically, or that you’re so dissociated mentally that causing pain brings you back. None of those answers made sense to me.

Last night I mentioned a numbness. I said that when I get urges to harm, I’m working through a numbness.

Today, I connected, I got an answer.

I don’t know if the root is mental or physical, but I get into a state of physical numbness. It’s like there’s an extra layer between me and the rest of the world. The ground feels farther from my feet. The keyboard feels further from my fingertips. The cat feels farther from my face. The longer I sit, doing nothing, in this state, the more I feel the need to feel. Challenging hikes help, with lots of scrambling over rocks, bumping knees, scraping fingers. Meditating in the ocean, or really, just putting my body in the freezing water for as long as I can stand it helps. Getting a new tattoo is always good when I feel like this. Sex is 50/50, but acts of BDSM with a partner (with or without the sex component) definitely help. And so does self harm.

I messaged a friend today, the friend I spoke to the night I cut myself, and I told him my revelation. I told him that it’s a physical need to feel through the numbness (whatever the source of the numbness is). I said I just needed to find a healthier way to fill the need when I couldn’t do something like climb rocks for 3 hours or soak myself in near freezing water for an hour. He came over this evening with an answer. He gave me his micro needle therapy roller thing (it looks like a little roller brush, except instead of bristles, there’s needles). It works. It has that same needed sensation that I seek without the causing physical damage component.

I’ll be okay, really, I will. Things will get better and I’ll slowly piece together the answers of my brain.

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Hurt

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I want to hurt. I want to feel physical pain. I have ideas popping into my head one after another after another about what I could do to cause myself pain in a way that I could re-build the pain for days and weeks to come.

I haven’t felt this way in a long time.

I’m stressed, I’m anxious, I want life to settle down, I know that life will start settling down after the last couple weeks of chaos (I owe another post about how life’s shifted again). I have had a few drinks tonight, but the drinks don’t really change how I feel, they just make me less likely to have inhibitions towards doing it.

I want to take my knife, any knife. I want to cut myself in an area that is easily hidden, easily explained. Three short cuts would do it, I can blame them on the cat as I’ve one so many times before.

I haven’t cut myself in over 6 years… tonight that might change…

Going Blank

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Sometime towards the end of grade 11, I started experiencing what I initially called “seizures.” It was the closest explanation I could come up with. My muscles would lock up and start shaking. It would center on one part of my body and radiate out. The longer the attack, the farther out it would go. A friend first witnessed one of these attacks during a skype call when we were in grade 12. He threatened to call my parents to get them to help me, but I refused, citing that I wasn’t supposed to be on the computer at that time. Mostly, no one knew I was experiencing these attacks. They’d come and go, sometimes I’d have them all the time, sometimes I wouldn’t have any. In 2011, I had the worst attack yet, it lasted over 3 hours. It started when I was at college, studying before heading home. Another student who I talked to on occasion noticed and asked if I was okay. She was my catalyst to finally seek medical help. I somehow managed to get myself to the bus stop, onto a bus, and to the hospital. I got in and saw a doctor relatively quickly. The doctor didn’t listen and barely looked at me before telling me that since it was an ongoing problem, I had to talk to my GP, and he sent me home. I experienced spasms for a further half hour after leaving the hospital before finally coming out of the attack. A bit later, I was able to record a video of an attack so I could show it to my doctors. I ended up seeing a neurologist who ran an EEG and sent me for an MRI. Both came back normal and he was dismissive. A second neurologist was equally dismissive on seeing the results and told me that my experience was psychosomatic.

I don’t talk about my past, prior to the whole no-sleep thing, very much on this blog, but I feel this little bit is important. The muscle spasms showed up sometime around 2007 and vanished sometime around 2014. About 7 years of intermittent painful muscle spasms that no one could explain. And since then, nothing.

Until a couple weeks ago.

A couple weeks ago, I started experiencing what I can only describe as going blank. I’ll be in the middle of something (never verbal conversation) and I’ll suddenly just stop. It’s about 50/50 if I stop and just stay in that position, or if I flop. Flopping is kind of like, my muscles go loose, like if I were drifting off to sleep. Either way, my mind just circles around the idea that I’m not able to think of anything else, that I’m not able to move, that I’m stuck. I’m vaguely aware of what’s happening around me, but I can’t focus on anything else. Slowly, I come back into my head and out of the blankness and pick up wherever I left off. Unlike the muscle spasms, this is happening around other people (though no one’s recognized it yet).

Also unlike the muscle spasms, I’m aware that I’m overwhelmed and stressed and anxious. The doctors said that the muscle spasms were psychosomatic, and perhaps they were. Going blank seems to be as well, for all I can tell.