journal, mental health

Give me a reason

Content warning: Self-harm, and the possible “glamourisation” of self-harm.

As of the time of starting this post, it has been 4 days, 10 hours, 21 minutes, and 48 seconds since I last self-harmed.

Prior to 2022 it had been over a decade since I felt compelled to hurt myself. In that time I have been through so much including the death of both of my parents, unpacking issues related to that, and spending eight hours watching someone nearly die while fighting to keep them alive. I took all of that in my stride, lacking grace and stumbling a lot.

2022 though, I was carelessly exposed to the idea of self-harm at my volunteer work and now it is all I can think about as soon as my stress levels get slightly too high. I can go a couple of months, and then a switch flips and cutting myself seems like a perfectly reasonable option.

So here I am, trapped in a cycle of building emotional pressure and using a razor blade to release the valve for a little bit.

My latest lapse took place on New Year’s Eve. Normally I set myself a deadline for the following morning – I need to wait till 9am the following morning and if I still feel like I need to cut, then I can do it. December 31st was different though. Time is a social construct, but I really didn’t want to start 2023 by cutting so I gave myself a deadline of 9.30pm.

I journaled, distracted myself with cartoons and conversations, and tried to sleep it off. The urge remained, and I could not come up with a single reason not to. Other folk didn’t give me a reason either, but I recognise that it is not their responsibility.

So I did it. But before I did, I found an app to track the time that passes between lapses. As soon as I finished cutting, I started the timer.

4 days, 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 22 seconds.

I’ve been told not to condone or promote self-harm, but you know what? It feels good. I like the pain, I like the feel of blood on my skin. I like how the scars look. I like how it feels when the scars are touched. I like it.


I am under pressure, implicit and explicit, to stop self-harming; to get back on the proverbial saddle, and to consider this year a blip in my mental health recovery. Fine, whatever, but give me a real reason not to do it anymore.

I’ve been on Google trying to find inspiration for reasons not to cut again, but there isn’t much there which seems to vindicate my stance. The closest I found was a blog post by Amanda Smith called “101 Coping Statements for Self-Injury and Self-Harming Behaviours”, and it has not helped me.

There are hollow platitudes or a focus on what other people think rather than what the self-harmer thinks. Fine. Then there are the ones that I rail against almost aggressively.

“I don’t want scars.” – Yes, yes I do. Scars are attractive, especially when they are fresh.

“I don’t want to hide my body.” – And I don’t, not because of self-harm.

“I hate the guilt that comes from self-injury.” – What guilt? Why should I waste energy feeling guilty? I’m surviving, and I am proud of that.

“Self-harm is embarrassing to talk about.” – No it’s not. You might not want to hear it, but I am happy to talk about it. The shame of not talking about it is ridiculous.

“Blood smells awful.” – Blood smells awesome. I paint with it. It brings me visceral joy.

So, as you can guess I have yet to come up with any real reason, a reason just for me that doesn’t rely on other people, to stop self-harming. I am not cutting today because I don’t feel the need to. When the need arises again … well, that depends if I can find a reason not to.

4 days, 11 hours, 3 minutes, 15 seconds.

journal, mental health

Should

I should write something on my blog.

I should really make something.

I should get livestreaming.

I should do some housework.

I should go outside for a walk.

I need to go to bed.


The past few weeks have been a bit shit for me.

Physically, I had been in so much pain and I have been so tired. I’ve pretty much been in bed for about 15-20 hours a day. Emotionally, I had the blank flatness of depression with the occasional outbursts of tears. Mentally, I had been worn down by a decision I had been avoiding making.

I made the decision, and acted upon it, and things are slowly starting to get better.

I hate the word “should”. I tend to use it as a weapon to beat myself with. I never meet the expectations of “should”, thus triggering the never ending spiral of failure. It’s so damned exhausting.

And I know all the stuff I should be doing to get out of this, but if it was that easy I wouldn’t be feeling this way.

I do want to write more on my blog, I’m just never sure what.

Maybe I should just sit here and type every day and see what comes out.

mental health, self-improvement, writing

A Ghost of a Person

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

– Jim Rohn

I have no idea who Jim Rohn is1, though variations of this quote run rife in the personal development community. It’s an overly simplistic way of saying that we tend to manage our behaviour in relation to other people, that we should be around people who lift us up, and run a mile from people who drag us down. You know, the regurgitated advice from every self-help guru.2

We’re about 11 months into an on-again-off-again lockdown, so if we are being responsible adult, then we are not being around many other people in a meaningful way. We may be trapped with have the company of family, friends, or flatmates, we could find ourselves living with just one person, or we could find ourselves living alone. What does this mean for us if we are the average of the people we spend time with?

I bring this up because of something I am personally experiencing.

I have been diagnosed with Emotional Intensity Disorder3, twice. It basically means my emotions go up to 11, but you can look at the diagnostic criteria for the ins and outs of it all (it is very complex, and there are many different combinations of symptoms). The one criterion I want to look at it is this:

Identity disturbance with markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

I have very little sense of self. I have a habit of modelling the ideas and opinions of the people I am around. I can come across as a bit of a cranky and overly-opinionated little shit online, but in person I think I am overly-amiable and conflict avoidant. I want people to like me, but who am I? Well, I’m whoever I think you want me to be. It sounds really creepy when I write it out, but it’s true. I can’t pin my identity to anything other than others. I am a ghost of a person, and I only exist in relation to other people. When I am alone, and try to figure out who, what and why I am (remember, I am addicted to personal development) there is nothing to pin myself to.

So what then am I, and people like me to do when we aren’t around other people? How do we continue to exist?

I am struggling with who I am, and I can’t be the only one.

Are any of you fans of Nickelodeon’s Fairly Odd Parents4? There’s an episode where Timmy Turner wishes to be alone with his crush, Trixie Tang. Trixie needs constant admiration from the boys, and with them gone Timmy has to provide it all. Watch it.

That is a vibe. And it’s kind of my vibe right now.

I don’t need the constant admiration of people, but my partner alone can’t provide me with a strong anchor point for my identity. He shouldn’t have to. That’s too big a responsibility for anyone, and he is unable to really consent to that5. It’s a toxic behaviour that I am struggling to manage.

Being among people doesn’t give me a stable identity, but it allows me to flex and explore identity without overly burdening people. However, I will not be able to be around people in any meaningful way for a long time, possibly next year. A year of being a ghost.

Of course the real solution is to have my own stable sense-of-self, but I’m fucked if I know how to do that.

What am I the average of?

You can’t drink from an empty cup, but what if that cup can never be filled?


1He’s an entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. All the worst sorts of people, lol.

2I snark, but I am addicted to this stuff.

3Or Borderline Personality Disorder, but that label is so shallow and easily misunderstood.

4It’s problematic. Shut up. All your favourites are problematic too.

5How on earth would consent work in this situation?