Thursday, March 01, 2007

Day 190

Today is Self Injury Awareness Day. Apparently it is on the 1st March every year. I have never heard of it, and I expect no one else has either.

I saw coin collectors in the train station today and read the back of one of their tabards on my way past - it said something along the lines of "This could help someone you know". I thought "Maybe they're collecting for SIAD" (Self Injury...) but no, they were collecting for disabled children.

Could you imagine anyone collecting for SIAD? Imagine the flack those bucket shakers would get. Maybe I am doing the general public a huge disservice, but I doubt it.

How would one raise awareness about self-harm anyway? Would you make T-shirts stating you were a self-harmer or wear button badges - a sash maybe? A promotional bumper sticker? If it were donations you were looking for - what would that go to help towards, plasters and portable first aid kits? Maybe I am too cynical.

After my mum alerted me to the fact that it was indeed SIAD today (she heard sommat on the radio about it) I started trawling through websites trying to find out more...Maybe I would find that illusive help that I have been looking for, for over six months?

It seems that no one really knows what to do with a self-harmer or should I say 'self injurer'? Everybody I have spoken to on the subject seems to know hee-haw about it. Well that isn't necessarily true; they know that shitloads of people that do it, but how to help them STOP doing it is another matter entirely.

When I was at my CPN appointment on Tuesday, I talked to her about my most recent arm trauma. She was concerned at the size of this one she was also the one who told me it was infected. She asked if my psychologist had been talking to me about ways to stop self-harming and I replied, “No”. Her advice was to wear an elastic band around my wrist and snap it against my skin when I wanted to self-harm, or to pinch myself, or go for a walk. It seems no-body really knows how to help one to stop, they just presume that it will stop when you have done all your ‘talk therapy’. Not really sooo helpful when you are scared that you might accidentally kill yourself while in the self-mutilation zone - I doubt if even a humble rubber band would save me then. When I left the Mental Centre, (I need to start calling it something else, don’t I?) I left with a bag full of contraband; sterile dishes, sterile water, giant gauze pads and micropore tape that my CPN had supplied me with, just to keep the bastard clean. “Yes, you are good to me”.

During my Internet trawling, looking for clues, I found that there was a pilot scheme started in 2006 for supervised self harming in hospitals so those who self harm could do so in a ‘safe’ environment. Although I really don’t know much about this whole debacle, I find it rather bizarre how a scheme like that would work: would you make an appointment to go in and do ‘the deed’? Would you have an allotted time?

I know from my own experience that my self-harming episodes are never planned. Although the majority of times that I have self harmed, I have usually been thinking about scratching myself most of the day, it is never an “aim”. I try everything in my power to stop it happening, but it mostly never works. Sometimes – like Monday night - the need comes completely out of the blue, and happens very quickly. I do however know that if there was someone watching me, I would never be able to do it. (Maybe that’s the winning concept?) It makes me feel a bit sick just thinking about it.

Something else that pissed me of while trawling through pages of advice for self-harmers was how ‘cloak and dagger’ they made it all seem. ‘They’ talk about “coming out” to family and friends as a self-harmer and liken it to “coming out” regarding your preferred sexuality. ‘They’ talk about picking your time carefully and sitting people down and making sure you never blurt it out in a fight. ‘They’ talk about how to reassure the person that you are telling that it is no reflection on them that you are dong this and that they shouldn’t feel that it is their fault. Hang on one second…WHAT? Are you kidding me here?

When I first self harmed when I was a teenager I didn’t tell anyone, I came up with all kind of excuses for my blood soaked school shirt, I even went as far as to say my mother did it. Of course there was the 'cat scratch' excuse too. This time round, as an adult, I was so bloody scared about what I had just done I called my mother in the early hours of the morning, terrified out of my mind. The last thing I felt like doing was talk about it calmly. This was not ‘normal’ behaviour. By Christ, I had just scratched and scratched away at the skin on my hands with a neat little pair of embroidery scissors. There was no rational thought there, no time for self-composure; there was just “Jesus, fuck what have I done?” No brain activity, just extreme panic and fear. The last thing I was worried about was how I should break it to anyone gently.

Yes, afterwards I had ‘the guilt’, and still do, every time, to this day. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for my mother to hear me telling her I had just self-harmed and have no idea, (well, I have some, but I can’t even go there) how it continues to make her feel. I know it makes her sad and I know it scares her that I might lose it and top myself, but I barely allow myself to dwell too much on this because I think I would end up killing myself, just to stop the pain of hurting her. Ironic, huh?

I was out in pub the other night with a few friends – I was all bandaged up with afore mentioned pussy arm, and not one person commented. I don’t know if that is because they know exactly how that big bandage got there and assume I don’t want to talk about it, or because it just doesn’t enter their head to say anything. It is a bizarre situation, especially when you are amongst men (I always think that they must think the whole self-harm thing is just insane because they all seem so damn rational) because you catch them looking, but no one says anything. Maybe it’s just because I have a massive gob on me and I cannot imagine not asking someone how he or she is when they are, quite obviously hurt(ing). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking or expecting people to ask me about it, I just think it’s interesting - and a really good example of that big old elephant in the room.

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