Struggling with the Elephant in the Room

A Manic Depressive Blog

Manic Depressive Illness-Why Self-Harm can Happen to Anyone

(Warning, there is graphic content in this post that could potentially become a trigger) I never thought I would cut myself. I never thought I would resort to self-harm as a way to escape my emotional pain. I never thought my wrists would be covered in scars or that my favorite knife would become my only friend. But life takes its toll, causing us to do things we normally would not do. I was 22 when I first cut myself and I still remember it vividly. It was the middle of the week and I had just come home from work. Tired, I spent a few minutes talking with my parents before I retreated to my room. Closing the door, I walked over to my bookshelf  and examined my collection. My thoughts were racing, dragging me closer to a depressive episode (at the time I did not realize I suffered from Manic Depressive Illness. Although I had spent most of my childhood in therapy, my adult life was the complete opposite. I thought I had been cured. I thought that my mind was finally stable and that I could return to a normal existence. But I was wrong. I spent so much time trying to escape my past, that I did not realize I mentally unstable).

Walking away from my book case, I sat down on my bed and started to worry. Thoughts of death consumed my mind, causing me to further crack. I didn’t know what to do. I had no one to turn to (at the time I did not trust my parents, I had been so wrapped up in my own life that I forgot my parents were there to help me. So instead of walking out of my bedroom and confront my parents, I just sat there in silence). Tears began to trickle down my face as the darkness grew. I tried to tell myself that the thoughts were not real, that my brain was just fucking with me. But nothing was working. I was desperate, so I started to chant “Go away bad thoughts, go away bad thoughts, go away bad thoughts,” hoping that the darkness would recede. Unfortunately I was wrong. The negative thoughts began to grow, telling me that I would never have any friends, that I was ugly, that my co-workers hated me and that my own parents had given up on me.

It was around this time that a knife had found its way into my hands. Opening the blade, I stared at the cerated edge, contemplating my next move. Without realizing what I was doing, I placed the blade on my left wrist and began to cut. At first the blade did break through the skin. I pulled the knife away, stared at my wrist and began to laugh. A smile had formed on my face, as I tried to cut my left wrist again. This time I cut deeper into my wrist, causing blood to form at the cut. Not satisfied, I cut myself again and again and again until I had created a small gash. I dropped the knife and stared at my wrist. I watched as the blood poured out of the cut and fell onto my tile floor. I sat there for twenty minutes, staring at my cuts, watching as more blood left my body. It was a very surreal moment. The darkness had evaporated and I felt happy for the first time that week. I licked the blood off my arm, put my knife away and went to the bathroom to clean up. Unfortunately, that would not be the last time I cut myself (or caused other bodily harm). I refused to think that I was harming myself, instead I viewed it as a way to temporarily eliminate the darkness.

Some of the scars have disappeared, but if you look close enough you can still see where I had cut myself.

Unfortunately, society does not prepare us for self-harm. We are taught that only pre-teens cut themselves, that it usually is a cry for help or a faze one goes through. But that is not the truth. Anyone, at any age can fall victim to self-harm and unless we start to change the stigma surrounding it or create an open dialogue, then the problem will just continue to grow.

I learned the hard way that self-harm can happen to anyone. But like addiction, the problem is not easily fixed. Although I have not cut myself in the last year, I still feel the urge to get my knife and open up old wounds.

That is all for now.

Dave.

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5 thoughts on “Manic Depressive Illness-Why Self-Harm can Happen to Anyone

  1. Dave,

    Thank you for your courage of sharing about your self-harm. I also discuss my self-harm in my blog titled “Depression” if you want to read it. I think it’s absolutely sick that some people think people self harm just for attention. Unfortunately, some do, and that doesn’t help those of us that are suffering. When I cut, it was because I felt so out of control and anxious that it was the one thing I had control over…

    I am glad your scars have faded for the most part, and I hope you are in a better place regarding your need for self-harm.

    Take care,
    Jess

    • Dave,

      Thank you for sharing this and helping to dispel more myths. Just like Bipolar is supposed to be diagnosed by a certain time, you conveyed that self-harm (in this case cutting) can happen to anyone.

      Intense.

      Does talking to someone who understands give you a similar feel of relief that cutting does? Helping to eliminate the darkness at least for awhile?

      jt

      • Jt,

        Honestly, when I talk to other people face-to-face, I usually get paranoid about my problems. I can talk about my topical experience with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction, but that is about it. When I go deeper into my problems, I tend to trigger episodes, which is exacerbated by my already growing fear (I also tend to agoraphobia so when I am in groups of people and I am depressed, I spend most of the time sulking, and coming up with ways to leave). So, for me writing is the best as I am able to convey my feelings/experiences/fears behind a “wall.”

        As for the stigma surrounding self-harm (and all of mental illness for that matter), I think it’s important we work to dispel them. I just can’t believe that the bias towards mental illness still exists in the 21st century.

        Dave.

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  3. I hope you are ok now Dave.

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