This blog could potentially contain triggers. Please make sure you are emotionally safe before continuing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The First Time I Hurt Myself -- Kind Of

***This post may contain triggers for self-injurious behaviors.  Please make sure you are safe before continuing.***

I need to write, but I just can't right now.  Another one of those so-much-to-say-that-I-can't-say-anything times.

But I'm hoping that by writing just a little I can clear away some of whatever's blocking me.

So I went back and looked at some things I have from when I was still in therapy on a regular basis.  This is a letter I faxed to my therapist, names edited.

December 18, 2006


The session that we had scheduled for this Friday was cancelled due to a scheduling error. I am not scheduled again until January 24. I am now on your cancellation list.

I think that if I wait that long, I may not mention what I need to.

The only people who know what I’m going to tell you are my therapist friend (my boss) and my other therapist friend (my bishop). I have been struggling quite a bit lately and last week was having a lot of thoughts about hurting myself. I imagined slicing vegetables and purposely getting my finger in the way and just watching the blood drip from my finger. I imagined purposely spilling boiling water on myself. I imagined grabbing a hot pan or curling iron with my bare hands to burn myself.

These were frightening to me. But even more so was what I did on Thursday. My tension level was pretty high. I ended up scratching into my arm with a broken plastic spoon. I also held my arm over a candle and burned myself. By the time I was done I had three pretty solid red lines (that have now scabbed over) and a couple of first-degree burns. I scratched again Friday and Saturday.

I discussed this with my therapist friend. He asked me if I was planning to talk to you about it. I told him that I have several weeks until my next appointment and asked what he thought about whether I needed to make contact with you sooner. You and I have never really discussed what situation may suggest a phone call to you and you know that I do all that I can not to impose on your schedule. He said that if I thought I was done, then I could probably wait but if I thought that I was going to do it again then I should try to get in sooner.

I have been wanting to scratch for a while now today. I haven’t yet but I probably will. This is why I tried to schedule earlier.

I will leave this up to you now. If you think that I should go ahead and wait, I will. Otherwise, you are free to call me on my cell phone.

And no, my husband doesn’t know.



Things were not good between me and my husband at the time.  I did not feel like I could trust him with this information.  He did not feel emotionally safe to me.  It was about a week after I first did it before I told him.  He did not react well.

Also, it turned out that my scratching hit an unresolved nerve in my therapist.  After a few sessions feeling like he was chastising me and doing everything he could to make me stop I called him on it.  I told him that I felt like he had some kind of issue that was making it impossible for us to work together.  I really liked him.  He is a brilliant man.  But the more he tried to control it, or my husband did, the more I wanted to do it.  I asked him if he thought he could help me or if I should go to someone else.  Our current relationship wasn't working for me.

Good man that he is, he owned it.  He acknowledged that he had an unresolved issue with self-injurious behavior.  A time when a patient had self-injured and later committed suicide.  He'd thought he was through it but realized he wasn't.  He said that he'd talk to a colleague to process it and see from there.  We agreed to try again.

It was work, but he got through it.

And I said kind of in the title because I realized later that there had been lots of ways over the years that I'd purposely hurt myself.  Never scratching.  Burning a few times and other things that hurt.  I hadn't known that's what it was until looking back.

It's amazing what things become clear looking back.


Kazzy said...

Wow. I never knew this about you and your past. That must be a hard thing to live with. I hope you are feeling better.

Day said...

Cutting is just a hard question. . it grosses people out, but it does less long term harm to your body than so many of the alternatives. It's less socially acceptable than binge eating, or binge shopping, or drugs, or even binge drinking. . . I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for cutting. I just know from experience trying to talk down people I've really cared about, logically, it's hard.

susan said...

Beautiful post. I started following you. Cutting is a hard topic to write about candidly. Thank you.

Hope Despite Depression said...

I know how hard is it to talk about self injury (as I recently shared my own battle with it)...

I can't believe how long it takes to get in to see your therapist. So much can happen in ONE WEEK - let alone 3 months! It sounds like you like this guy - which is good (because a good therapist is hard to come by) - so I imagine you're not interested in finding a new therapist? Someone who is more available?

For me, personally, I know that's a long time for me to wait in between sessions... how do you deal in the meantime? I did read that you have other people to talk to - and thank god for them!

Thank you for sharing ... it helps so much!