Tag Archives: violence

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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More Appointments

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Today, I saw my GP. I got to ask for a referral to get a diagnosis for some kind of a-neuro-typicality. I’ve known for a long time that I’m not neuro-typical, but I haven’t felt the need to get a diagnosis for it. Some of my past therapists and psychiatrists have suggested that I might have ADD, ADHD, sensory processing issues, OCD… My last psychiatrist did a brief assessment between me and my mom and told me that it was very likely that I fell on the Autism Spectrum (the “Asperger’s” end), but that he wouldn’t give me a diagnosis.

So, today, I had a thorough talk with my GP about the potential diagnosis, the first steps in the process, and why I’m seeking an answer now of all times. Despite living in the land of “free health care,” the diagnosis is going to come out of pocket for me. I’m okay with that, in the long term, I feel like I’ll save money. I’m seeking the diagnosis because I intend on returning to school. I know that I don’t do well in a university classroom, and I want to change that. I feel like having a diagnosis and answers about what can help me, will enable me to get the assistance and accommodations I need at university in order to succeed. It may cost a bunch to get the diagnosis, but in the end, I’ll save money by actually completing my courses instead of failing them and ending up with a higher earning potential.

Tuesday (two days ago), I had a different appointment. I had my intake with the local sexual assault clinic. I don’t know if I’ve talked about this in past posts, I don’t read my post history. I was in an abusive relationship for two years fresh out of high school. My first sexual encounter (in grade 12) was coerced. When I was a live-in nanny and doing everything I could to escape the abusive household I worked for, I spent a lot of time at the bar. One of those nights, I didn’t go “home” and ended up spending it with someone I thought was a friend, who raped me.

I’m dealing with a lot of anxiety and emotion lately and I feel like I could really make use of the clinic’s group courses that they offer to deal with everything that’s coming to light right now. However, I’m not sure that counselling with the center is what I need because so much of what I’m dealing with is life-long, not just what’s gone on since sex became a part of my life.

Self-harm is one of those things that pops up as a life-long issue. I have three potential earliest memories. 1: A dream, very vivid, thought it was real life, and related it to my family on waking as “yesterday” until I was corrected. 2: Sitting in the stroller beside a brick wall, trying to work out how the buckle functions so that I can escape and go play. 3: Sitting on the top bunk of my sister’s bed, with a hammer I had stolen from the garage, hammering at my knee trying to break my kneecap. I cried when I couldn’t do any damage. I had a plan for if I had succeeded to “fall” off the bunk then claim I had fallen and that’s how I broke my knee.

This stands out because it’s a clear thought, clear plan, and a distinct memory. However, there’s nothing in my head for before this (all three of these things happened within a year of each other, if not closer together). Self-harm is one of those things that doesn’t just spontaneously appear. There has to be a reason, a why, a cause. You don’t just wake up and decide “oh, I’m going to do permanent damage to myself.” Something has to happen to you first. One group that’s more at risk for self-harm is those who are LGBT, of which I am both G and T (gay and trans), but at that age, I didn’t know or have any inkling of either. It would be years after this age before I started really expressing frustration about gender expression. Self -harm typically doesn’t start to show up until late childhood/early teens, and this memory is definitely from when I was no more than 3.

All this boils down to a question that popped up when I was hanging with a friend, refocusing, after the intake meeting:

Did anything happen to me (and possibly my sibling) when I was quite young that I just can’t remember? Does my sibling remember?