Self harm has gained much attention in recent years as the number of people harming themselves in this way, especially among teens, have increased quite dramatically. The proliferation of images in popular art and music have made this phenomenon almost a household name. Artists and musicians write songs and photograph themselves and others with bleeding wrists in blood stained bath tubs, but self harm is much more then cutting one self or attempting suicide.
Self Harm and Self Injury is done with the intent of hurting oneself. Not just a cry for help, although it can be, it can be much more serious and indicate a very real intention to punish oneself or to eventually cause death. It is a serious indication that something is wrong, a desperate if not silent cry for urgent help.
When one thinks of self harm the images of cutting, burning, mutilating oneself come to mind. Yet self harm is any harmful action to the body with the intent of hurting yourself. Abusing drugs or alcohol, risky or dangerous behaviour, poisoning, starvation or bingeing, can all be attempts at self harm.
Not everyone wants to leave evidence of self-harming behaviours to be seen, but everyone who self harms is silently screaming for help. This is what makes self harm so dangerous and deceitful, it is not always apparent. It is this deceit that I struggle with myself.
I don’t physically cut myself, except on the rare occasion I have taken a knife or razor blade to my veins in a genuine attempt to end my life. My choice of self harm is through binge drinking and drugs. I have on numerous times taken overdoses of various substances in an effort to hurt myself so terribly that it would cause death.
I don’t really drink very much during a stable period in my life, but when I begin to feel depressed and my mood dips, I want nothing more then to drink myself in oblivion and take any substance that will put me out of my misery. I begin to look for people who will facilitate this behaviour, often seeking out people I don’t know well who will not stop me in my quest of self destruction. It’s just easier.
At the time I am vaguely aware of my own intentions, stuffing the depressive moods, and trying to maintain the facade that everything is all right on the surface. I begin to push away my friends who come around, and isolate myself so I can justify my self destructive course with the increasing feeling of loneliness and isolation. It becomes a self-perpetuating, no-win situation which will ensure my downfall.
Unfortunately, well fortunately, I have yet to be able to pull this off. I am terribly blessed with amazing friends and have been lucky enough to find a wonderful man who all refuse to let me actually carry out these devastating self-harming wishes. And deep down I am searching for a reason to live.
My faith has been instrumental in this. My relationship with God has been the ultimate security and support throughout the last 20 years of my struggle with my bipolar illness. God is always there, he is always sending his angels to intervene and I have yet to find myself truly alone or alone for a long enough period that my self harm attempts have been successful in taking my life; And I have made some pretty good attempts throughout the years.
It all comes down to being honest with yourself. To identify whats wrong, you have to truly get to the heart of the matter and honestly search inside yourself for why you feel this way. For me, my bipolar brain changes up the chemicals and I suddenly feel terrible and worthless. But this is the lie my brain is telling me, it’s not reality. When I get to this point I have a terrible time being honest with myself and I have to rely on those around me to identify that this behaviour is not right, that it is not normal.
I am honestly unable in these periods to identify what I am thinking and feeling isn’t real. I am caught in the lies my head is creating. Eventually I am made aware of my behaviour and I feel devastated by my actions. I have usually hurt someone badly that I care for and along with dealing with my internal battle I am forced to deal with the external relationship and the fallout from my behaviour.
I wish I could say I have found a successful way to handle this. Self-destruction is a part of bipolar for many, and for me it is a big part of depression. For some it comes with Mania. Yet for many it also includes elements of Self Harm that are very real and potentially life threatening.