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perkreations

Honesty about creativity, art, mental illness, grief, feminism, human rights and chronic pain with a healthy dose of sarcasm

Month

July 2016

My Experience with Self Harm 

I’ll cut right to the chase with this experience as there’s no easy way to slice it. Perhaps it’s wrong to pun about something so serious and mysterious but I’m at the helm here and it’s my experience so I choose to add some levity rather than chopping my story into a more palatable pablem.

My experience with cutting and self harm is rather limited and came later in life than usual but the urges were no less compelling. My weapons of choice were rather creative and odd but got the job done. I used a grapefruit knife for scratching, an artist’s blade for separating paper for cutting, a potato peeler for scraping and scissors for cutting.

This behavior began last year about a month before I checked myself into the psychiatric ward. I haven’t had any issues in 2016 but occasionally a whisper of an urge arises and I’m able to distract myself using techniques taught to me at the hospital.

The reason for this behavior, in my case, was wanting a way to punish myself for not being able to control the crazy in my head…for needing serious help and feeling like I didn’t deserve it.

I recall scratching myself up on my side before heading to the hospital because I didn’t think I deserved treatment. I felt I was just taking up space. The scratching was a pre-punishment of sorts.

To start with, I began by scratching the side of my left wrist until it was raw and red and often a bloody mess. I soon realized this was difficult to hide, even with long sleeves and bracelets so I moved on to more creative locations; my side ribs, my legs and higher up on my arms.

If you look closely at the circled area you can see horizontal scarring healed over.

Once I was in the emergency ward waiting for a bed in the psychiatric ward I had nothing sharp to punish myself with so I began pulling out my hair. This terrified me because I was “safe” and still finding ways to self harm. I would also squeeze and pinch my skin until bruises formed, then I would focus on prodding and pinching to increase the size of the bruise.

Once on a unit I was shown some tricks that worked for me when I felt the urge to harm myself. I would draw on myself with red pen instead of actual cutting. This was creatively satisfying and quelled the urge.

I also would hold an ice cube in each hand and squeeze hard. This is actually quite painful and always seemed to shock the urge out of me.

I hope my account of my short experience with self harm has been helpful. It was scary, confusing, embarrassing, and painful but, so far, it’s no longer an issue for me. I know many other individuals are not so lucky and self harm can be a lifelong battle that can start at a young age (early teens typically I believe). I urge seeking treatment rather than feeling as though it’s not deserved. We all deserve the help we need.

Mental health stigmas and misconceptions can only be quashed by sharing stories and raising awareness so as to provide support for those not comfortable sharing, those on the outside of mental illness looking in, and creating a community where taboos are swiftly kicked out the window so we can heal, not in secrecy, but by regaining some semblance of pride and self worth.

K

Musing and Ranting About Getting Older

In less than a month I will be 37. I will be 37 and I feel like I’ve been standing still for the past 5 years. When I was working I was achieving, I was pushing myself, I was creative, and making friends and I had a busy, full life.

Lately in therapy we’ve been working on finding my ideal future career. Sometimes I even feel excited, ready to take on the world again. 

I feel like maybe it’s just something simple I haven’t done recently that will make all the difference…like reading The Secret -FYI I have read the Secret and it was stupid and any psychiatric Dr or nurse I’ve ever mentioned it to have laughed and then quickly said “…uh yeah, The Secret is bs.” Who knows…maybe I just haven’t met the right Dr yet.

Anyway, back to career thinking. These are some of the questions I grapple with constantly when I’m not daydreaming of running some creative fortune 500 company:

* What can I handle mentally?

* What can I handle physically?

* Can I handle a position that’s as incredibly creative and stimulating as I want it to be? I need passion💚💃💚

* Who will want to hire me and my limitations?

* Do I deserve a second chance at a dream job?

And on and on and on…

I’m told to dream big. Warp my fantasy where all limitations no longer exist. Honestly, I wonder if my aversion to showers and my hermit-lifestyle isn’t perhaps a glaring sign I need to deal with that shit first.

Ug! Pardon my whining, I’m just finding priorities hard to pin down.

K

Crash

My body has been screaming, “no!”, for days now and I must give in and rest. This is what I would call a cumulative pain flare up.

I was lucky enough to have my husband’s sister and brother-in-law and their two boys, ages 3 and 7, stay with us about two and half weeks ago and we had so much fun! I wouldn’t change a thing.

I tried to pace myself but wanted to miss out on as little as possible.My nephews are so beautiful and smart and fun❤😊❤ I wanted to spend as much time with them and their parents as possible. 

After the boys left, along with their patents we had my husband’s Mum stay with us for another week, which was great as we get along so very well.

I began to really notice fatigue, low tolerance for going out, increased pain levels, and general irritability during the past week. My husband and his Mum were kindly indulgent of me and incredibly understanding about my limitations. 

As of yesterday, Mum left for home, and my fatigue finally kicked into high gear. Now for the really tricky part. 

I must take care of myself.

This is so much harder than it sounds. There are dishes in the sink, beds need changing and laundry needs doing. For now I must push these items down far lower on my list and accept rest as a priority activity and not feel inferior or lazy.

I find it hard to admit I’ve pushed too hard. I see  people moving through life at breakneck speed and achieving left and right and I want that back so badly. 

For now I must accept my body’s mandatory invitation to rest for as long as it takes to recover. This flare up will end then I can get back to living a little more and inching forward once again.

K

In-law and so Much More

I lucked out in the mother in law department big time. In fact my in-laws in general are all round great folks.

With this post I want to focus specifically on my mother in law, whom I will refer to as Mum from here on out, because I want her to know how much her love and kindness means to me.

The best part about Mum is she shows up. She shows up when needed most and cares for me as though I’m one of her own and she has done so for ages.

My first memory of her going out of her way for me was when I broke my ankle and she volunteered to wait with me at the cast clinic. 

My appointment was scheduled for roughly 11am and I was finally seen about 4 or 5 hours later. She patiently sat with me and we entertained the nurses as she attempted to teach uncoordinated me how to crochet…a skill I’ve yet to master.

When we finally made it in to see the doctor she, rather cheekily, but with damn good reason, asked if he’d be paying for our inflated parking tab. She also put him in his place when he attempted to ignore my issues and feelings. It was this strength of character that made me feel as though I’d found a kindred spirit in her❤

Years later she’d fly out a week before my Mom’s funeral and help me consolidate my hefty to-do lists and get everything done on time before and at the event.  Although my Mom is dead I feel as though I can count on Mum to be there for me despite this devastating loss. 

I feel so lucky to have this generous, kind, and good-humoured woman in my life through thick and thin. I’ve grown to see her as a pseudo-parent/close friend who’s there when I need her most. I can talk with her about grief and chronic pain and mental illness and rather than scaring her away she comes in closer to show her support.

I’ve heard of others who don’t get along with their in-laws and this makes me sad. I resolve to never take her kindness and acceptance for granted because she’s such a great lady and the only Mum I have left.

A huge thank you to my Mum for all she’s done for me and being such a great role model and friend to me. I love her more than she’ll ever know and my gratitude runs deeper than one could ever delve❤

I also would like to thank my husband and his siblings for kindly sharing her with me. This is a generosity I’ll never forget.

K

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