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I need to talk about withdrawal. I'm not talking about medication here but something else.
Today I am 38 days cut free. I thought this was a good thing. In the short term, this really is great. It is the longest I have been. It is a step closer to my goal, my scars are healing up nicely and who knows, by the Summer I may be able to wear skirts/shorts again without several pairs of tights.
So, you want to know what the problem is? WITHDRAWAL! That's right. I'm suffering from withdrawal from cutting. How is that possible you might ask? Let me explain it to you; for me, cutting has been like a drug. When I cut, I feel a euphoric rush of adrenaline. I feel better, I feel freer, my mind feels clearer. Suddenly, I've stopped cutting and now I can't find that euphoria. I have no release. No adrenaline rush... That, my friends, is withdrawal!
I have started having visions/hallucinations/flashbacks, I can't sleep properly, my motor control is suffering, I'm hearing voices, I'm feeling angry and irritable all the time. I haven't started lashing out yet but I know I will. I don't want to but that's what happens.
Before I was cutting again (after the first time there was a gap of a few years) I was a very angry person. I was in a very violent relationship and my outlet was aggression. I would punch walls, smash things, break things and eventually, I almost killed my ex partner! He was a bully. He would tell me how to dress, how to act, what to like, what to eat... He checked my emails and text messages and I couldn't leave the house without him. If I did anything that displeased him, he'd hit me. He was very clever with this. He wouldn't hit me where bruises might be visible. If by chance a bruise WAS visible, he'd tell me what to wear in order to cover it up. Also, I'm quite thick skinned so I don't bruise easily, this worked to his advantage.
Things came to a head one June afternoon in. I remember the day as clear as if it was yesterday. It was in the midst of the World Cup and my mum's birthday was approaching. I had received a compensation cheque for an injury I'd sustained some years earlier. With this cheque I was going to go shopping and buy my mum a birthday present. I'd gone to the bathroom to take a shower and I took my phone with me so I could listen to my music. My ex, P, came to the bathroom and tried to open the door. It was locked. Since it was just the two of us living together, we didn't tend to bother with locking doors. This obviously angered P and he started pounding on the door. I simply ignored him and continued to shower. I could hear him thumping and kicking at the door. I knew he'd hit me for this so I continued my shower regardless. I got dressed at a leisurely pace and exited the bathroom. He was stood outside the door waiting. I could see the anger in his face and I simply ignored him and walked past him. He started to shout accusations at me. I'd taken my phone with me to make secret calls, I was sending dirty pictures to other men, I was performing sex acts via video call for other men. This was his reasoning for me locking the door. All of which were false.
I continued to ignore him and he pulled me by my hair and shoved me against the wall. My head hit the wall and I simply saw red. I lunged at him and grabbed him by the throat. I pushed him up against the opposite wall, I'd somehow gathered enough strength to lift him clean off the ground. His face was turning a deep purple and his eyes were bulging. I hissed at him; "If you ever touch me again I will fucking kill you." All the while my grip was tightening around his throat. His eyes were watering and bloodshot. He was drooling and his breath was shallow and raspy. Suddenly, I realised what I was doing and I let him go. He slid to the floor choking,retching, crying and gasping for air. In that moment I grabbed my bag and ran from the house.
I have neither before nor since been so violent towards another person. I almost killed him. I knew that and I didn't care.
After I left P, I spent 2 weeks in a drug and alcohol filled haze before returning to London to try and restore my life.
The intervening years between then and now are somewhat hazy but at some point my self harm started again. It was on and off for a length of time until about 3 years ago or so when it became a regular thing again.
Does it make more sense now? How I'm actually suffering withdrawal??
So, what do I do?! I'm trying very hard to simply push through. I know that relapses happen often in the withdrawal period. I've tried snapping an elastic band against my wrist. I have also tried distraction methods. I'm trying to talk to my Mr Aussie about things but it's so difficult. I don't want him to suffer because of my suffering and I know that depression can be "contagious" in this manner. Given that he is younger than me, I worry about the effect my problems will have on him. Furthermore, he has grown up around depression and mental illness and therefore he is more predisposed to suffering himself.
I have reached out to a service I believe may be of help to me but right now I feel like I'm wading through thick mud and getting nowhere fast!
I would be interested to hear if anyone else has suffered this kind of withdrawal with self harm and how they managed to overcome it.
Until next time,
Keep Smiling :):