The Final Cut-Hitting Bottom with Self-Injury

I have risen above many obstacles in my life.  I have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness since the age of 17.  The labels schizoaffective disorder, PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder are just some of the words doctors have used to describe what was happening to me.  The most difficult diagnosis for me to come to terms with was Borderline Personality Disorder.  I can hardly say the name without feeling sheepish.  For me I took that diagnosis to mean that my personality was inherently flawed.  I felt I was given that label mostly because of my cutting and eating disorder behaviors.  Other factors probably played a part too, but the self-harm was what I saw to meet the criteria in the DSM-IV.  I didn’t see any other “defects of character” in who I was that the psychiatrists seemed to agree on.

Cutting never seemed to be concerning for me.  I thought that I would be able to keep doing it for the remainder of my life, however long that may be.  It helped to cut.  The world was so chaotic that harming myself was the only thing I could control.  The secrecy also felt safe.  I had something that was mine and mine alone, a secret identity.  I was a “cutter” and I had found myself, so I thought.

Gradually through the years the cuts became more and more severe.  They required stitches and trips to the emergency room.  Because I was so removed from myself, the cutting never hurt.  I never felt any physical pain.  It always played out like this: I would dissociate, then I would complete the act.  Following the cut euphoria set in, if only just for a moment. Then coming back to my body I would see what I had done.  Finally, overwhelming feelings of shame and disappointment set in and I would crash.This was how it was for so long, I saw it as a life style until one day something changed me forever.

It was in the middle of the night when I awoke my parents because I knew I would need to go to the ER after the harm I had just inflicted.  This was not unusual for me to jolt them from their slumber in tears and bleeding.  I had yet to see the damage because it was dark in my room when I hurt myself.  I got to the ER and I revealed the mess to myself and everyone in the room.  Hysterics overtook me and I collapsed into a ball.  This time it was bad.

That day was my bottom with my self-harm.  I almost loss the use of my left arm.  It was that day I realized I could accidentally commit suicide and it was that incident that prompted me into recovery. The allusion of control washed away and cold reality kicked me in the stomach.  I needed help!

The Storm that Raged Within – Part 1

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I was 28 years old when I finally moved out of my parents home and burst out into the world with vigor and fear.  I had spent 10 years in and out of psychiatric hospitals with my emotions blunted by medications.   My time was spent mostly doing arts and crafts and partaking in group therapy where I would process my goal for the day. Life was… dull.  How did I find myself housed in the walls of institutions?  Let’s look back to high school at the young age of 17.

I had many wonderful friends and a great family.  I was to graduate soon and then off to college.  My life looked promising and exciting on the outside. Internally, though, was a rage so volcanic and an anxiety that never let up. There was so much pain contained in a body that  was without a voice.  The truth was I had never developed a voice to express anger because to me it was an unacceptable emotion that I did not possess.  Little did I know my “bad” emotions were seeping out in ways that were far more destructive than words.

My rage turned inward and I was repulsed by my existence.  I found things so wrong with myself that facing each day in my body was unfathomable.  So I  self-destructed by taking razor blades to my arms and keeping food from my lips.  I spoke with my actions of self-harm and an eating disorder.  In my delusional world, everything was under control and I could live with myself.

I wore long sleeves and baggy clothes to hide my secrets.  My arms were never exposed to the outside world because I knew they would not understand. I wept, but with my own blood instead of tears.  My weight-loss I concealed with bulky outfits.  I was undercover as a happy young woman, though inside I was a mess.  This is how I lived for a year, until the day the silence broke…(to be continued).