Anxiety, art, depression, mental health

It’s time to talk about self-harm.

I know. No one really wants to broach it. Or hear about it, and definitely don’t want to see it. But it happens. Everyday, all over the world. People are using self harm as a coping mechanism.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1 in 10 people self harm. This can be through cutting, taking tablets, burning, piercing, or even swallowing objects.

My chosen method has always been cutting. Yep, I’ve been a self-harmer. For years, on and off.

I’ve had to answer the awkward questions about the scars (rooky mistake as a 17 year old, doing it in obvious places, what an idiot eh). I’ve honestly come up with the most stupid excuses, and I know people know exactly what they are, so why do you even ask?!

Some of the best excuses for the scars have been;

“Oh my cat did it, she had really sharp claws when she was younger.”

“I was moving a fence panel with me mum and chunks of the wood splintered and cut me.” – why oh why did I ever use this one.

“It’s from when a mirror smashed and fell on me as a kid.” -this actually happened but the scar from that is on my hand.

Sometimes I have simply just said “it was a long time ago.” Because I know you know what they are.

So I moved on to my thighs, I’ve never got them out. Unless I’m on holiday sunning myself up, or if you’re a lucky enough person to see.

A common misconception I have come across in my years of slicing and dicing, is that people think these scars are from a suicide attempt. Let me clarify, I, and many others do not self-harm to die.

For me, it’s to get a sense of control when I have none. No control over my racing thoughts, panic, fear, hopelessness. I’m in so much pain mentally, I want to feel something physically. And for a short amount of time I’m feeling something else. Physical pain. The mental pain is still there, but I can focus on the stinging.

I was taught distraction techniques as a teen.

Like putting an elastic band around my wrist and pinging it when I want to cut – didn’t make a blind bit of difference. Just aggravated me having a laccy band on my wrist.

It upsets and angers my family and friends. They tell me not to do it. Or to talk to them when I get the urge – if it was as simple as that I wouldn’t have scars all over my thighs. Sorry guys, I can’t stop myself when I get the urge. When I’m that hopeless and out of control. That’s what I want, and need to do.

I’m sensible about it (which is odd for what I’m sure a lot of people won’t see as a sensible choice). I obviously use clean sharps, I care for the wounds, I know signs of symptoms of infection to look out for. I’m my own patient post cutting.

The closest people in my life have resented me for it. I’m not trying to hurt you. In fact, I’ve hidden it so well a lot of the time, not to hurt you.

Basically (after all this rambling). What I’m trying to say is. If you see someone with scars, don’t point, don’t ask. Support, keep that extra eye on them. They’re fighting a painful battle. But not from the pain of their injuries, from the pain that caused them to injure.

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Anxiety, art, depression, mental health

Abandonment Part 2.

Just what you need on a Saturday night eh!

So now we’ve got the curtain call on my last piece of the abandonment pie. I’m going to tell you about another one.

Let me tell you now, I am absolutely TERRIFIED about writing and publishing this one. I feel I also may need to hide it from some people (but you can’t hide on the internet! Shit!)

My Mother and Father divorced when I was 14. As divorces go, this was no Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow ‘conscious uncoupling’. There had been violence, alcohol, police, arguments and so on. All the fun stuff right?!

Now I forgive what happened, partly. But I can’t forget. My Dad left the family home for the final time. And our relationship faltered. I’d see him for an hour or 2 a week at my grandma’s house. It was weird, strange and confusing. It’s like we became strangers. Especially for a few months when, I had decided I was strong enough to stand up in court (probably shouldn’t have thought that because solicitors are mean, even to kids.)

I saw my mum try so hard to bring two children up alone, through heartbreak and hurt. I had her. Who was amazing, the woman has been through a lot shit. She even slapped cancer in the face not long after this time. But again, where had this other male figure gone from my life?

He was a good Dad, embarrassing, with crap dad jokes. But he had struggled since losing his father – and he showed some maladaptive anger.

Eventually my dad met someone else (well quite quickly really). I was diagnosed with depression and my dad just didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t there.

When I went off to uni, I passed comment on Facebook that him and his partner always go on holiday to the same place (he always said you should travel to different places and see the world.) To which I received threatening messages from his new partner (one saying I was an ungrateful T**t that should have been drowned at birth) and from her friends on Facebook. She’s always had a problem with me and my sister. Particularly me. I wasn’t even invited to my own dad’s wedding. My sister was, and she went. And I stayed at home. Unwelcome. And he didn’t fight my corner. He abandoned me.

And I can never ever forget that.

He’s supportive now, he rings me every other day. We’ve built up a relationship. But it’s a relationship that doesn’t involve his wife. She’s equally been as nasty to my sister.

She may be facing her own demons. Maybe she needs to access and accept some help. But in my eyes, she was chosen over me.

And the only man a woman often feels she has through thick and thin, is her father. And I didn’t.

So there you go (cheery isn’t it!). But just know. We are okay now, I can slightly forgive, but obviously not forget. It’s just been an added brick to my abandonment wall.

He’s still also majorly embarrassing and tells the worst jokes. I tend to laugh at him now with him (the man has his reading glasses on a bloody string around his neck!)

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Anxiety, art, depression, mental health

1 step forward, 2 steps back.

Motivation is extremely difficult when your lucky enough to have depression. It can easily, by seen by those not in the know as laziness. Please don’t mistake the two.

With laziness, which we’ve all felt. People don’t WANT to do anything. Often with depression, you DO want to do something. You want to get out and about, you want to have positive experiences, be productive. And the annoying thing in my case, after struggling on and off for almost a decade is that I KNOW being productive, engaging in activities will lift my mood. But it’s as simple as this, I just can’t.

I can’t face the idea of having a shower, getting dressed, eating, or engaging in conversation face to face. Fear builds at each thought of those, how can I possibly even complete any of those tasks?! I want to, but my head won’t let me.

I just stay in bed, in and out of sleep. Passively watching Netflix (friends is my current choice). I often just stare at nothing, with thoughts racing in and out in succession.

Today is one of those days. I feel horrendous. Also slightly numb and flat at the same time. My stomach is churning (a combination of not eating and anxiety) I just can’t see a better time ahead of me.

I’d like to thank every single person who has got in touch with me as a result of this blog. Sharing their experiences, letting me know I’m not alone. I know I’m not alone. And I certainly don’t feel brave as people have said I am (I’ve not wrestled a grizzly bear). But today is one of those days I feel truly and utterly alone. Alone in the presence of people, alone with my self-loathing, panic and questions.

I do want to get better. I want to look back at these posts a year from now and think “Christ, look at me now.” But today, I’m just not feeling jumping over those hurdles (I’m short as it is, hurdles are difficult at the best of times!)

I want a hug. I want someone to just hold me and tell me everything will be okay. But unfortunately, the only person I ever felt safe in the arms of has shown their true colours. And it makes me sick to the very pit of my stomach.

I am FORCING myself to go to the gym tonight. I even bought gig tickets today, just to have something to have to do in the not so distant future. But I can’t see past this dark, thick fog (even with my full beams on.)

I just want today to be over. I just want to fast forward to a better time. I want my new meds to kick in. But you know what they say, want doesn’t get (I think that’s what they say I’ve forgotten, my brain is all fogged up too).

I want help. And the mental health system is on its arse, after my stint as a patient in A&E with all this I’m still waiting for therapy. I hate waiting.

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Anxiety, depression, mental health

The finale. AKA what went down.

So here’s the curtain call on 6 years. Feel free to throw flowers on my metaphorical stage as I take my bow.

As you know, the last 8 months have involved daily anxiety, regular panic attacks, frequent days of low mood and self doubt. Little did I know it was that pesky sertraline! My family noticed (apparently there were discussions about it). And at the time, my partner was aware.

When I drank, and decided to let lose and try and have some fun, my anxiety was also in on the act. He wanted a slice of the party pie. The butterflies would emerge from their cocoon.

In this state, whatever someone said to me, would cause offence. I hold my hands up, there were times I got extremely nasty in these moments – really upsetting friends. But when he would say something nasty to me I’d break down, or tell him I can’t be with someone who doesn’t understand. I’d rant about my constant fear and hopelessness. We would eventually agree that we are going to get through this, together, as a team (he always said we were a team, I just must be the player that was sold off to a team in a lower division.) I accessed therapy – with an 18 week waiting list.

We were fine, we booked a holiday, we had loads planned. We were going to a festival, comedy gigs, general gigs.

It was the weekend after valentines (I’d been working nights during the week – the worst bloody shifts that had been quite traumatic). It was also his sisters birthday so we were going to her flat for drinks before us two going out for a meal. We had a few drinks, I wasn’t drunk. Chatting to people, even his dad, who suggested we join them for their meal, we obliged.

This is where the tide turns, waiting for our taxi into town, he decides to tell my anxiety wriggled self that his sisters friends have commented that I speak to him like shit! WHAT? Like really WTF! now if you know me, I do tend to be quite banterful, and this is always how me and my friends and he have communicated. Here’s and example “oh you bloody idiot” in a jokey way.

You can imagine this yeh? He went mad. Saying his family thought the same. The anxiety raged, I broke down, I’ve never meant this in anyway at all, what have I done wrong now?!

We got to the restaurant, he went in, I said I couldn’t sit with his family knowing that they think that of me. So he went in without me.

There I was, tear stained, shaking in the middle of cold drizzly Manchester. I began panicking, my hearing was going, I couldn’t see properly. I wanted it all to end, all the fear, all the self blame, the constant feeling that everyone has something against me. So I rang him, and yes I told him, that I can’t cope with things like this setting me off into oblivion anymore. I wanted to end it all. (I still can’t physically write it out, but I’m sure you get the gist of what I really wanted to do at this point).

He ran after me, I told him everything, how it makes me feel. Constantly on edge, feeling everyone hates me. He cried, I cried. We ultimately decided we needed to go home and talk, which we did. On the train home I broke 2 paracetamol in half and went to take them (I had no drink) and he slapped them out of my hand and asked me what I was doing. Clearly thought I was going to top myself on the train, paracetamol wouldn’t do that – trust me I’ve seen people post paracetamol overdose. It doesn’t work and gives you liver and kidney failure. (I’m trying to tell myself to keep this bright!)

We talked, he told me he wants to support me, we slept, we cuddled, we kissed. The next day he was fine. We had a Maccies (I had one of those massive big Mac’s and it’s the first time a Maccies has made me full.) He then went home, said he loved me and to stop worrying, that we were fine and we will be okay. He even rang me on the way home because he was worried I’d be worrying. Well, how that lasted long…

He went to his parents house and that’s when I got the messages. That he needed space after telling his parents what I had said and done. That he loved me, but after talking to his parents I had “caused irreversible damage to his family”. That I was correct about his dad not liking me. (I know I’m not the nations sweetheart but I’m not Satan himself!) He said he wanted to know how my initial therapy assessment went on the following Tuesday.

Well long story short I told him how it went, he still didn’t want to speak to me, 6 days passed, I contacted him telling him I need to know what’s going on. Once again the reply was “more space” (what does he want to be in a black hole! That’s not a euphemism). That it was difficult for him to and he misses me and loves me, that he wasn’t trying to “alienate me” that we were still together (he was on tinder at this time). A further 9 days went by… I went on his email (it was logged in on safari.)… my heart dropped to my feet, I was dizzy, I was wretching . He had signed up to tinder plus…. he had strung me along, not knowing where we stand, yet he was searching for other options the whole time.

Obviously I contacted him, literally just saying “I’ve seen your emails, we need to talk now”. I was met with a stone cold brick wall. Brief and blunt responses, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t meet me for at least a week. I finally asked what I knew the answer to – “so have we broken up?”

The answer: “I think that’s the conclusion I’m coming to.” THINK, THINK?! He was still dangling that carrot in front of my rabbit face (I do have the chubby cheeks, fortunately not the teeth).

I went to my mums, I sobbed, I screamed, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat. Then the next day arrived. When I received the following:

“That few weeks allowed me to get some perspective on things. I feel it was a long time since I put myself first and made decisions to benefit myself, so I’ve decided that needs to change. What also struck me was when was the last time we went out together when it didn’t end up in an argument and all the time it was in the back of my head when we went out, I was worrying if things were going to blow up and sure enough at my sisters or properly blew up. What happened that night has stuck with me and I can’t forgive it, what happened on the train especially. It’s caused irreversible damage to me and my family. I can’t go back into the relationship now because that will always be with me. I’ve got to move forward and that’s by myself.”

There you have it, his end to 6 years. Firstly his punctuation is SO poor.

Secondly, there you have it, this is why people hide their mental health problems. Because even the ones you love, you trust, who you THINK would support you. Can so easily turn their back.

Yes we’ve made progress. People talk about it more. But people who haven’t experienced it will never understand it.

Maybe I should have bottled it up, I feel either way he would have done this. Because my depression was changing me, my meds were changing me. But still if I had bottled it up, who knows, I may not be here now. Or most likely, mental sectioned.

It’s long. It’s depressing. Its cruel. But it’s the truth. And that’s poor mental health and poor understanding. Peace out.

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