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PhD

Welcome 2015

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So 2015, it’s good to meet you. There is so much that I would like from you that I feel it would impossible for it all to happen.

I’ll try and start with the most important.

I would like to have a healthy baby in June, hopefully following a pregnancy and birth that doesn’t put me off for life. If we can do this 2015 I think you will go down in my life history as being awesome, nothing else required.

I would like to survive my viva, get through my corrections and graduate. I actually feel hopeful about this. I am pretty sure that this will happen ok. If we can then writing a couple of papers would be quite nice.

I turn 30 in February. Feb is always a hard month for me, my SAD is in full swing and I find birthdays depressing. It would be really nice to just celebrate this birthday. As a bit of a babymoon (last holiday without baby), a celebration of PhD finishing, and a celebration of my birthday my husband and I are hoping to go off for a long weekend to a sunny place, not sure where yet but somewhere new. Just to relax and be together. I don’t know if it will happen, it will depend on when the viva is and how the pregnancy is going, but it would be great.

Now that the thesis is out of the way I would like to move in 2015, find our ‘forever home’ and get settled, hopefully before baby is born. Again I have no idea if it’ll happen but it would be nice.

I would also like, with the free time I have to connect again. I have felt a real disconnect from everything recently. I would like to knit and brew and bake. I would like to grow food and cook. I would like to play boardgames again, I miss it. I would like to read more books, so many books to be read. I would love to learn how to sew. I hope that 2015 will see me using my hands and getting crafty again!

I would like to get into shape, sitting and writing a thesis does not make for a healthy body! I would like to maintain the health I have and build on it. That includes my mental health.

As I said at the top. So much that I would like from 2015. For now I sit here with my baby in my belly, my cats around me, a pregnant friend next to me and the sounds of my husband and our friend playing boardgames. You are off to a good start 2015. I raise my glass to you and welcome you!

Dans

Goodbye 2014

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Way back I when I used to use livejournal I would make two posts at new years, one to say goodbye to the old year, another to say hello to the new year. It used to be a fair few days after new years by the time I got around to it. I tended to be quite drunk at New Years.

This year I am stone cold sober, and fighting off the desire to crawl into bed so I figure now is as good as time as ever.

So 2014, what happened?

Honeymoon. Delayed by a good 6 months my husband and I set off to the Caribbean and to so many firsts. First cruise, first actual swim in the sea, first time in water where I can see my feet, first of so many foods, first time in a submarine, first time horse riding on the beach and in the sea, first time bareback, first time kayaking, first time in a rainforest or a natural hot spring, first time scuba diving or snorkelling, swimming with so many different animals. It was a gigantic adventure that I will always look back on with awe, not believing I actually experienced it all, wishing I could experience it again. Even though we found out I get sea sick easily! I would go back in a heart beat if I could.

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How can you not jump for joy being in the Caribbean?

Whilst on honeymoon we were able to go to Trinidad, my mother’s homeland and meet so many relatives that I had not seen since I was 5 years old. I wish I could have spent more time with them and really do hope it will not be another 24 years before I see them again. Unfortunately, the day before we arrived my Aunty passed away, she had been sick for a bit, but I had hoped I would see her one more time. I did not know her well, only meeting her twice and only one time that I actually remember, but she had a place in my heart and as the oldest sibling she was a central pillar for my family. She is missed, but that just shows how well she lived her life. I hope you are resting well Aunty Irma.

I had really really hoped to finish the PhD in 2014. At first I hoped before the honeymoon, then definitely by August, then by Samhain. I missed each deadline, only finishing lab work in September. I started to despair and think I would never finish but I handed in on the 18th Dec, just before Yule. It’s a bit of an end of an era but such a weight lifted from my shoulders. Just a viva and corrections to get through.

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Thesis ready for initial submission!

The PhD took a lot of my 2014 but we still brewed, still managed to get to Oakleaf, we had a good friend living with us for 8 month of it, still did some gardening, some reading, limited knitting and boardgaming. We also managed a short holiday to Finland in the summer which was nice. I really do love that country.

I did have one other major achievement in 2014 other than finishing the PhD. I’m pregnant, due June 9th. I’m excited and nervous and terrified. There will no doubt be a post soon about me and pregnancy and my mental health, my fears and worries etc. For now I will just say: 😀

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I’m having a bubba!

2014 was ruled by the PhD but I  am thankful for the memories that were made. I likely wouldn’t be human if I didn’t hope for 2015 to be better. I will always hope for less heartache and tears. I will always hope for better health for me and my loved ones. And whilst 2014 didn’t do too well on those aspects, an amazing honeymoon, making a baby and submitting a thesis will hopefully be the memories I take forward!

I raise a glass of spiced mead and wish you farewell 2014!

Funks, update and esteem challenge day 2

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Half 5 in the morning. Been sitting here most of the night trying to write and not being able to.

I’ve been in a funk all day. I woke up not knowing what day of the week it is and just haven’t gotten back on track since. I’ve done productive things. Went to the shops with the hubby, fixed a light to wall outside (2 stories up and remembered whilst up the ladder that I very much dislike heights!), cleaned a fish tank, made dinner, did laundry finished knitting a project, just ends to weave in. In between each of these I sat down to write and nada. Nothing. Zilch.

Do you ever get that? Brain just refusing point blank to work? Really wanted this chapter submitted on Sunday, but it’s technically Monday now so that is gone. *shrugs*. I’ll get it done, it’s nearly there. I think this chapter is brought to the world by Tupac. I got some good writing done whilst listening to a youtube playlist of his music. For some reason it’s the only thing that is getting this brain into gear for this chapter. Gotta say I’m getting a little sick of the songs now, listening on repeat for so long. So hoping this is chapter will be pretty good once I get this version in.

Other than slight writers block things have actually been going well for me. I’m cooking a bit again and that feels so good. To go into the kitchen and coming out with something that was cheap to make, will do more than one meal and tastes damn good. Have to admit many of my meals have been containing courgettes recently, as we have had a glut from the garden. But I’m making it work.

I’m a lot happier. A lot less depressed. I did have one breakdown the other day, missed my CPN appointment because of it. But considering how I had been, I’m doing really, really well. I’m starting to look at my physical health again, I’m getting back on top of the house (so much laundry to do!), thinking about the garden, making good progress on the PhD, chapters really coming together now, the knitting is still going well. I just feel better in myself. I am so glad. It was such a long, dark, summer.

Really hoping I can get some posts up soon about things I have created, other than this thesis, but it must be done, and there will be time for posts after. Bear with me!

I majorly sucked at doing that 30 day challenge, so will do day 2 today.

Day 2:  List 5 things that make you smile or happy.

This one is very apt for how I have been feeling.

1) My husband. His childishness, his love, his geekyness, his humour. Have really felt like a newly wed recently, just looking at him can make a sh*t-eating grin appear on my face. He’d say that he should be worried by that, and just hearing him say that in my head has me smiling again.

 

2) My cats. Their stupidity, their cuteness and their personalities.

 

3) Good food. Certain food items. Just noms. What can I say I like my food!

 

4) Crafting. Whether it be cooking, knitting, growing, crocheting or brewing, it makes me happy to create something good.

 

5) My future. Looking at my future, with my husband and my cats, all the good food that I can eat, all the time I will have once the PhD is over for me to be crafting. That makes me happy and makes me smile.

 

Until next time.

 

Dans

Day 3:  What is one fear or goal that you would like to conquer?

Day 4:  What do you do to feel better when your having a bad day?

Day 5:  What is your proudest accomplishment?

Day 6:  What are some obstacles that are preventing you from accomplishing your goals? What will you do to overcome them?

Day 7:  Do you think you care too much about what others think? If so, how can you change that?

Day 8:  What is a food that you enjoy, that makes you feel good?

Day 9:  Do you have genuine respect for yourself and who you are as an individual? If not, how can you change that?

Day 10:  Are you happy with your “inner person”? If so, why or why not?

Day 11: Is your self talk negative or positive? If it is negative what are some more positive ways to talk to yourself?

Day 12:  What is the last thing that made you feel proud of yourself? Why did it make you feel this way?

Day 13:  Share about the last time you felt confident in yourself? Why did you feel that confident?

Day 14:  Is there someone in your life who makes you feel good about yourself? If so, how and why?

Day 15:  Do you like your personal appearance? If so, why? If not, what are some ways you could view yourself?

Day 16:  Do you have make-up, clothing, or any accessory that makes you feel positive about yourself? If so, what and why?

Day 17:  What do you do to feel calmer when your stressed?

Day 18:  Do you like the way you talk if so why?

Day 19:  Do you have an activity that makes you feel alive and good within yourself?

Day 20:  Has your self-esteem improved doing this challenge? If so, how?

Day 21:  Name 5 things that your good at?

Day 22:  Which of your skills or abilities do you pride yourself on?

Day 23:  What is your ideal outcome of this challenge?

Day 24:  Do you compare yourself to others? How can you be more focused on yourself?

Day 25:  If you meet a person just like you, would you like them? If so, why? If not, how could you view that person more positively?

Day 26:  When’s the last time that you were to hard on yourself? What do you think you could of done to treat and comfort yourself instead?

Day 27:  What is the main barrier to you having positive self-esteem? How can you break free from it?

Day 28:  What do you consider to be a healthy self-esteem? Does this match the dictionary definition of healthy self-esteem.

Day 29:  What do you think of your teeth and your smile? Do you like them? Why or why not?

Day 30:  Rate your self-esteem on a scale 1-10 for right now? Has it improved?

 

Getting back into the swing

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I’m back but I’m not back.

I’ve been knitting and loving it. I can’t post the pictures here yet as it is a surprise for a friend’s baby, but I’ve also taken an old hibernating project out of the drawer and started on it again. It’s a jumper I started back in 2012, but hibernated as I was having trouble with the pattern repeat. I was still having trouble, and was daunted by the idea of knitting the front and the back and then stitching up so I frogged it. I then had a look at the pattern and decided to convert it to be knitted in the round. Fingers crossed I can get the pattern right this time. It may just work out to be a jumper that I have to focus on 100%, not a knit whilst watching TV project.

 

The evil pattern repeat
The evil pattern repeat

 

I’ve tackled the brewing a bit and done a mass sterilisation of bottles and demijohns. The Midsummer Elderflower Mead has come off and been bottled, all 5 gallons. Feeling very proud of that and I am itching to put the next wine on. I think I might do step by step posts when I do it. This mead is a bit sweet for my hubby, but the MIL really likes it and I think a fair few others will too. Think I might reduce down how much honey I use to the gallon on the next one though.

Getting somewhere in the garden too. We hadn’t been on the ball with our courgettes and they have all gotten huge so it has been marrow based dinners! They have really grown well though. Also had a good run with the strawberries too. Problems with the tommies, in that they keep splitting. And I have no idea what I am doing with the sweetcorn, but I’m sure it’ll be ok.

I’ve also been writing again. No don’t get excited, it is boring writing, the PhD kind. But it is important that I do it. So yes, something down for all results chapters, working on discussions for 2 results chapters, 1 results chapter is an utter mess and needs rehauling but all the results are in, and the fourth results chapter is with a supervisor, complete. Little bits to add to materials and methods chapter. And I need to add a hell of a lot more to introduction and I’ve not put anything in my overall discussion. I am feeling good about all that though.

Managing all that has pretty much meant very little sleep. I don’t seem to be writing during the day, so that’s when the practical things happen, then at night I stay up and write. Energy drinks and caffeine pills have been my staple. Not ideal but I just want this PhD done with, so if it works, it works.

But I’m tired. I’m emotionally frayed. I’m physically shakey. I’m seeing things out of the corner of my eye. And right now the whole world is hazy. Some of that is due to me coming down with cold/flu. I always have 1 or 2 bad days of dizzy head, fuzziness, aching bones, burning eyes, freezing cold then boiling hot etc. Then I am ok again.

I don’t have time though. I haven’t pulled an all nighter since Weds night, I’m pretty sure I even slept 8 hours last night. But my head is lolling and I am getting increasingly pissed off at it. My right eye won’t stop blurring, but the optician said it is fine. My legs are restless. And I just want to shout and scream at my body to pull itself together so I can write what is in my head.

I will finish this chapter discussion tonight. It is a small chapter, the discussion is already in bullet points. I just need to snap out of whatever cold induced funk I am in right now. Caffeine tablets again I think. And maybe a shower whilst I wait for them to kick in. I am so looking forward to giving you a lovely post about courgettes and the things I am making with them, or my lovely jumper and the positive progress I am making on it, or the next batch of wine that goes on. But I need to get further on my thesis before I can take the time to do any of those! Right, pills, shower, write like a boss!

 

Dans

The mind is willing but the body is weak.

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Bipolar of BPD I am on an up right now.

For the first time in about a month my brain seems to have come on line! Whoop whoop.

It ramped up with fairly easy fiction reading and knitting to reading papers and finishing off a chapter that I haven’t been able to work on for over a month.

Last night I stayed up. I got some good work done. Took a 2 hour nap during the late afternoon when I realised I felt like I was floating away and actually talking rubbish but got going again. I’m meant to be going in to work tomorrow to do some lab work that requires focus, but I got an email from my supervisor today saying they had expected some chapters, really wanna get on and sink my teeth into this next chapter. I know I can do it. But my eyes are closing, and the small voice in the back of my head is saying I won’t have focus tomorrow if I stay up too late tonight. But I will. I know I will I can feel it. It’s if I go to sleep that it will all go bad. If I go to sleep I might wake up not thinking clearly again, with a brain full of fog and have to wait how many months to have a clear head again.

I don’t have that many months. I have two months before we are hoping I submit, and sooooo much work to do. I have 7 chapters to my thesis and as of today only 1 that has all sections filled in with something, even if that something is the ramblings of a crazy woman. No where near ready to submit.

The Dr signed me off sick for two months from today. We are going to try me on the fluoxetine again. I suggested it, I agreed to it. I thought it would help. But I’ve made no moves to take 2 months off from the PhD to settle into the meds again. I’ve also just realised that I’ve not started taking the meds yet. I should have. After I got off the phone I should have. But I didn’t. It’s that same thought that says I shouldn’t go to sleep tonight, it’s saying that I shouldn’t pause the PhD, I shouldn’t start the meds again. 

Yeah I am up. My brain is working. And my stupid body wants sleep. If I wasn’t driving someone else in a car tomorrow I’d say fuck it, stay up and work, write, think, and leave the lab work for another time. Captialise on this focus while I can as I never know when it will go or come back again.

Ok now is not the time to get caught up in this. Deep breath. Feed the fish, tidy away and save my work, have a drink and take the medicine, have a shower and go to bed. Tomorrow go to work, do the lab work, in between work on this new chapter in my office. Go to a friend’s celebration as she has finished her PhD. Be healthy. I can do this. Oh and take the medicine tomorrow as well. Gah head is still telling me I’m making a mistake in all of this.

I hate my body for being so tired and I hate my head for being so confusing.

Bright side, draft chapter handed in today. If nothing else that counts as awesome.

Dans

In this moment

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I was asked on my ask.fm to write a blog post. I had hoped that my next post would be about the gardening, about the knitting, about successful steps in the phd, about feeling better, about something pagany, about something cat or geek related, about anything other than this.

I’m not doing well. There, I said it. What do I mean by not doing well? I’m drowning in a sea of fuck-ups of my own creation. I’m struggling with intrusive thoughts, with copious amounts of anxiety that just makes me want to hide under my duvet and see no-one, not even my husband. My CPN (community psychiatric nurse) asked me how I dealt with anxiety I said that sometimes I try and knit, go out in the garden or read very short stories, but recently it’s been too much of that, and more than likely I will take a diazepam or go to sleep. She explained that sleeping isn’t dealing with the anxiety, just avoiding it. I guess I should have discussed that more, as none of my arsenal actually deals with the anxiety, after each one of them it just comes back. I can distract my mind from it for short bursts, but as soon as that distraction is gone I’m drowning again.

I used to think I didn’t have anxiety. Hell even now I question my anxiety as well as any other labels I have on me. I’m not hyperventilating right now but I am what I would describe as anxious. Maybe that’s why I don’t use the term panic attacks. Right now my skin is crawling on my forearms and hands, my throat feels like a balloon has been inserted into it and it is being inflated, whilst it is also being squeezed from the outside, I feel like something is clawing inside my chest, in the centre; just above my breasts but below my collarbone, the pit of my stomach wants to throw up, so much so I can just about taste it in the back of my throat. Even my nose feels like it is being pinched so I can’t breathe through it. My breathing is shallow but not fast.

I’m so full of what I call anxiety but I’m not panicking. I can’t panic. It’s 8:30pm now and I’ve been like this since I woke up this morning at 9am. I’ll likely stay like this until I go to sleep and wake up the same tomorrow. It’s been like this for a while now, more than a week less than a month probably. I lose sense of time when I am like this. I’m not crying either. I am sad that this state of physical sensation has become something that doesn’t panic me, has become so commonplace that I am used to it, but I’m also grateful in a way. Because right this minute there is no rage, no urge to self harm or impulsive need to escape it all, and that means that I am safe.

Right now I am not doing well, but I am safe. 

I had a bad few weeks recently, which saw the diazepam being used with increasing frequency, the nitrazepam being re-introduced but as a sedative rather than a sleep aid, and the zoplclone being used as a sleep aid. Things have gotten better since then, so while I am not at my worst I am avoiding all sedatives, also trying to avoid alcohol. The benzodiazepines aren’t meant to be used over a long period of time. I’ve been prescribed them on an as-needed basis for 11 years now. I like to think I’m not addicted or dependant as I can go over 6 months without having any, indeed one new Dr sent me to a drug dependency clinic following my request to have my prescription filled. They said that I have no signs of dependency, although they did diagnose me as BPD. I know that after intensive use they make me more anxious, my anxiety level will be low but I’ll want to ‘pop a happy pill’ to make that feeling go away. Indeed, if I took one now I would feel better. I’d be able to focus on my work. But I’m not going to. If I do then I will just keep taking them, and right now, although it would help I don’t need it. I am not doing well but I am safe. I keep the diaz and nitraz for when I am not doing well and I am not safe.

So other than a whooping case of ‘anxiety’ that I won’t treat with medication, I also seem to be suffering from incredible self doubt (which made me put the anxiety in inverted commas, because come on I’m not really sick am I? I’m just putting it on surely), a terribly short temper, a minimal ability to concentrate on things, a phd that needs doing and time is ticking away, a garden full of crops that are rotting and being eaten by slugs, a house that is being utterly neglected, a social life that is being utterly neglected and intrusive thoughts that tell me there is no way to put anything back together.

I’ve asked to see my psychiatrist again. I don’t know if he’ll even see me. Last appointment he said that I could come off of the fluoxetine as it isn’t doing anything and he didn’t think I was clinically depressed. In a slightly manic week I went cold turkey off the prozac (and all other medications I take, because drugs are bad and if I just stop them all I’ll be able to think clearly again and everything will be nice and happy and rainbows again right???), that was maybe June-ish. I’m now doing a lot worse than I had been then. I might ask my GP for the menopause again, that was the one treatment I was given that actually worked for me. Or at least I think it worked. I don’t trust my memory at the moment, I don’t trust much at the moment. Maybe I should be adding paranoia to my list of current symptoms. Fuck.

I wish I could know what was a symptom and what wasn’t a symptom. What is my flavour of crazy. I wish I could know what was wrong with me so I could treat it. So I could be ok. So I could just be a normal girl, with life stress, a dysfunctional and broken family and body image issues. But I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get there. I don’t think that I will ever not blow up in rages, not run away and hide, not be a self harmer with suicidal tendencies, ever not need to have a bottle of diaz in my bag in case I flip out, ever not have to be constantly distracting myself from the horrors that play inside my head on loop. I honestly don’t ever see a future where that will be. 

But for now I just have to worry about today, this hour, this moment or I will be overwhelmed. And in this moment I am not doing well, but I am safe, so let’s call that a small victory.

Dans – off to try very hard to read some very boring research papers from the 90’s and try to get this PhD one tiny step closer to being done

No idea if that was the kind of post the questioner was after. As always, if you have any questions you would like to ask anon: http://ask.fm/Danscrazycatlady

I’m ill

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Just to conform to society: Trigger warning, this post deals in detail with self harm, various forms and motivations. If this is an issue you are sensitive to, keep on walking, it’s not for you.

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Hi my name is Dans and I am not well.

I think sometimes I need a tattoo that says ‘your name is Dans, you have less than perfect mental health’. Hell even there I struggle to say I am mentally ill. I have mental health issues. I’m sick. I’m down right crazy.

I don’t know how but I manage to forget. You may say that’s good. Don’t be defined by your limitations, don’t be constrained by the labels put on you. But I’m not talking forget for a moment, or even a day. I forget for a long while. Forget that I need to be fighting. Forget that I need to take it easy. Forget how far I can fall. And fall I do.

Most importantly I forget that this illness that I have is forever. I may get better for a while. I may have good hours, good days, good weeks, good months and hell even good years but it is forever. It will come back, and even in the good I need to be keeping an eye on it, be wary of it.

I had some really good years recently. They weren’t without depression, without outbursts of anger, without tears and hopelessness, without urges to self harm and thoughts of running away and suicide. But they were really good years. I started and finished a very intense masters degree. I started a PhD and published papers, I bought a house with my boyfriend who became my fiancé and then my husband. I learnt many many new crafts, including the gardening, knitting and spinning. I accomplished many things. I made new friends. And I forgot. I took on more, I worked myself hard, and I stopped keeping an eye on it all.

The last 6 months have been a slow downwards spiral, it likely started before that, but that is the time I remember. The urges to self harm to deal with things grew. They started small as they always do. Start by pushing myself harder, staying up later, not allowing myself to do things I enjoy, not sleeping, not eating, not drinking, isolating myself, restricting circulation. Then came the less subtle, the fist clenching until the nails dug in, the picking, the hitting, the pinching, the scratching, the biting. And then it happened. Despite all of those things I could tell myself I was still self harm free. I mean they don’t really count, they don’t leave marks, they are socially acceptable. But last week I cut. 4 years free of breaking my skin with a blade, gone. And to make it worse I didn’t just cut, I carved. Probably the least socially acceptable of all. Even makes the therapists pull the ‘wtf’ face.

I had finally gotten to the stage where the words on my body were pretty much unreadable and now I have two new ones. One which it just won’t be possible to keep hidden in these summer months. I’m now 4 days ‘clean’, hoping we can go another 4 years, hell maybe even longer. Maybe this time I’ll remember to take better care of myself. Maybe as this new one is in such an obvious place I will be reminded more often of what can happen when I forget that I am ill, and that I always will be.

Since cutting, deciding twice to quit the phd, and then twice to keep going with it, I have been doing better. I started back on the phd work this week but tonight the stress all built again. I guess a day of caffine pills wasn’t my best idea. I swear I’m just not able to look after myself sometimes, not able to make ‘good’ decisions. I can’t go to bed. I know I’ll just get mad at my husband, there is no reason to get mad with him, he has been so wonderful, but the anger building inside will spill over and he doesn’t deserve that. I can’t focus on the phd work as the concentration seems to be shot and I just feel stupid and I don’t need another word added to my collection. So I thought I would come here instead.

Talking can help, but often there just isn’t anyone to talk to. I talk to my husband but there is only so much he can take on, and he does need to sleep at times. I used to talk to my friends more, but my shit is difficult to understand and after a while I found it just made it harder to talk to them directly. I’ve tried Samaritans but it didn’t work for me. If I remember rightly I just ended up frustrated, even more depressed because hell if Samaritans doesn’t work for me how fucked up am I? I have a CPN  I see once a week now, but that is just half an hour and can’t really talk to her at half 1 in the morning. But this, typing on a screen, something that may or may not be read by people I know or complete strangers. This helps.

So believe it or not that was an introduction to where I am at the moment. What I wanted to talk about was self harm. If depression is an awkward subject and talking about personality disorders highly uncomfortable then self harm is downright taboo. Even when talking on forums for people suffering from mental illness self harm can be awkward.

For some, suicide is more understandable. You feel suicidal, which means you are struggling with life and think dying is an option, let’s help you deal with your issues, see the joy in life and want to live again.

But self harm? You’re struggling so you hurt yourself? What is the point in that? Are you trying to kill yourself? Are you trying to get attention? Just huh?

I can’t count the number of times someone has sat across a room or a screen from me and equated self harm to a desire to die. And I can’t even begin to put into focus how infuriating it is.

I do not self harm because I want to die, or am trying to die.

I self harm because I am trying to live.

It is a coping mechanism, an unhealthy one: yes, a socially unacceptable one: yes, a dangerous one: sometimes, but it is a method of staying alive. I self harm because I am struggling and everything else I have been trying hasn’t worked. I am often having suicidal thoughts when I self harm, but the harming is not me acting on the thoughts, it’s me trying to avoid the thoughts becoming reality. It is very much worth noting that since cutting things improved, I was able to socialise, eat and drink normally, enjoy things, concentrate on the work and the suicidal thoughts went away. It did help. I’m not saying that if you’re feeling stressed at work go and cut yourself, but I am saying that if it is some scars and being able to function or me being in hospital I’ll take the scars

I have 3 different forms of cutting they seem to fulfill 3 different needs for me, and I do have ways to stave off all three.

The most common for me is the focused cutting. Just one area, just one stroke, will only leave one scar. It’s light and gentle and repetitive. When I was younger I used to tell myself that I was keeping the area open for when I finally decided to slit my wrists. But that was BS, and I’d have known that if I had probed the thought any further. The more you cut over the same area the more scar tissue you develop, that would make it harder to slit my wrists there. Over the many many years that I have thought about I have realised what it is about for me. It’s about the repetition and the calming. It calms me down completely. I can sit for a good hour cutting the same spot just lightly, go off into almost a trance. Big downside of it is once I sat there for too long, nicked something and had to go to A&E for stitches. Waste of NHS resources number one, probably down on my record as a suicide attempt, which it wasn’t, and I had to get a friend to take me and I hate it when my inability to deal with things affects others. My alternatives? Picking, I have several scars where I have picked the same area over an over again. Again not great as it’s still harming. Knitting, something not too complicated but not simple either, requires focus and repetition. Any other very repetitive task. I used to sort out my husband’s ccg cards, sort files on the computer.

The rarest cutting for me is the complete and utter anger. Often I throw things instead, or very rarely the anger gets that bad. Either way, in all the years I’ve been cutting it’s only ever happened maybe 3 times tops. It’s the wild rage slashing, pretty much no two strokes parallel to each other. Even I feel highly uncomfortable about it. That kind of rage really does scare me. Been about 10 years since that has happened thankfully, I hope it never does again, that I have learnt to deal with my anger better. What do I do to stave it off, well as I said it’s rare. I think the throwing things that are likely to smash is my way of dealing, and thankfully it has also been years since I felt the need to do that.

The last, and the one that has left the most scars, is probably the one that makes people the most uncomfortable. It’s the carving as I call it. My therapist says I am too hard on myself, so does my CPN and pretty much anyone involved in my mental health. Hard on myself plus anger issues has culminated in a part of me that loathes myself, and I mean really loathes. It’s a part of me that sees no good in anything I do, no usefulness to my existence and will not be argues with. It’s a vindictive side of me. One that lashes out with thoughts and words. And just to be sure that even when I am feeling happy and seeing the good in life I remember what a shit I am, that side of me carves the words into my skin, reminding me just what I think of myself, what I truly am. Or at least I used to think of it that way. Maybe I was wrong, maybe I have evolved in my cutting, but this time around carving the words have made me feel a little less like I need to remind myself of them. Or maybe it’s the same. The word is on my skin now so instead of screaming it at myself in my head, my head can quiet as it’s on the skin for me to not be able to forget and for the rest of the world to see. Maybe that is why I can think better, clearer, after I have carved. The dull pain remains, reminding me subconsciously of the word, the feelings behind the word and my brain can get on with functioning and dealing with my shit again. I used to try writing out how I felt, but that often got very graphic and frankly quite disturbing, having my mind only focus on one word stops things from getting too dark. It’s very rare that I have carved more than one word at a time, in fact I’m not sure I ever have. It gives the hateful thoughts an outlet before they build. Writing on myself in pen is probably the best thing I have to avoid this type of cutting. It’s what I did tonight before coming here. And now that I have remembered the strategy it is probably something I’ll be doing a fair bit until this phd is over.

I feel better for having said my piece. For giving my explanation. I have a whole load of resent for the way that society views self harm. For the fact that as long as it’s not something people have to see, self harm can be acceptable, but the moment it become visual people have issue. But I accept that unless you have been there it is hard to understand. I’m not gonna re-read and proof read this. There are likely typos, grammatical errors and bits that just plain don’t make sense. But I feel better now, I’ve worked through the frustration and some of the anxiety I felt when I opened this page. It has helped me, and if anyone actually reads it and it helps them understand me a bit better, understand self harm a bit better or makes them feel slightly less alone, then all the better.