**Please note this post is (a) very long and (b) contains talk of self harm so could be triggering**
Since I last posted things have been shit. Beyond shit in fact. The constant urges, needs, niggling voices about self harming have been grinding me down at a super fast pace.
I don’t really know where to begin so I’ll just stick to talking about the weekend. Friday I was a mess, but a manageable mess (or so I thought) but from the moment I woke up on Saturday (at 6am) I seemed to do nothing but cry all day long. The urges to self harm were crazy strong, very very intense and I fought so hard not to act on them. I had agreed a temporary safety plan with my support worker from rape crisis and even though it was a Saturday afternoon I desperately needed someone to talk to so I sent her an email, thinking that this would both get things off my chest but that she wouldn’t get it until Monday morning, therefore I wouldn’t be disturbing her at the weekend.
However, she must still check them at the weekends as I got a reply from her about an hour or so later. She was really nice in her reply and all the bits I’d written saying things like “it’s my fault, I’m bad, there’s bad blood in me, I need to bleed it out” she replied to saying “no, you’re not bad, you’re just having a really rough time at the moment and rough times mean you are more likely to use the one coping mechanism that you’ve always turned to – i.e. self harming”. She ended the email by saying that if I wanted a chat just to text her and let her know. But I didn’t want to ruin her weekend with all my crazy head crap so I tried to plod on with things by myself. The day carried on getting worse and worse, and by the time we got to about 7pm I was totally inconsolable… crying gentle sobs, quiet tears running down my face, then hysterical crying, huge heaving sobs, my whole body shaking and still with the repetitive “just fucking cut” voice going on in my head. The next few hours after that are a bit of a blur, I took more than my prescribed dose of Diazepam just to try and get some control back by calming down a little but it didn’t really do much to help. Maybe I just needed to cry like that, it has been a long time since I last really really let go and completely broke down emotionally.
Lovely support worker text me to ask if I was OK somewhere around 10pm and I replied back honestly “no, I’m a mess” so she replied saying she was going to phone me for a little chat but I replied again saying “I don’t even know what to say, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I can’t stop crying and I don’t even know if I’ll make any sense” but about ten minutes later she phoned anyway. I answered but couldn’t talk, just sat there crying my eyes out, every time I tried to say a simple word like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ more huge sobs would start up. But she just sat there and listened, she spoke for a little while until I got it together enough to talk a little bit. She was so reassuring and kept telling me everything was going to be OK, and every time I did manage to speak and something crazy came out my mouth she would listen and then repeat it back to me with the ‘crazy’ parts removed so that she could just keep putting it to me that I was just having a really hard time right now, but that I would get through it, look at all the other things I had gotten through that I never thought I would. She told me I was strong even when I sounded like a whimpering mess, she told me it was OK to feel how I was feeling, and after maybe 20 minutes the tears subsided enough that I could speak a little more rationally.
We then had a chat for a little while longer and I told her I was sitting on my bed surrounded by my little boy’s memory boxes, I had all of his scan photos and his actual photos spread out on the bed… I was cuddling his blanket of love that he is wrapped in in the photos… I’d been reading all of the sympathy cards we got at the time and in so many of them people had written how sorry they were but how they hoped the “love we had for each other” would be strong enough to get us through such a difficult time. And it hurt me to my very core because at that time I truly believed the love that me and my (ex) fiancé had for one another would be enough to get us through it. And then at the bottom of all of the sympathy cards I found two mother’s day cards and the ex had written a little poem from our baby… the last few lines of which said:
although right now we may be apart,
know that I love you from the deepest of my heart,
thank you so much for looking after my daddy for me,
mummy, a time will come when we’ll be back together as three
And my heart felt like it broke all over again as I read those words. At first I ached as I read them and felt such sadness… but then this changed to a more angry feeling, like what my ex had written was all lies… there would never be a “three of us” now, why did he claim to love me so much yet still go and have his two affairs? I was still on the phone to my support worker at this point and saying all of these thoughts aloud through the tears but again she helped to calm me down and explain that whilst going and having his affairs was very wrong of him, at the time he wrote those words on that card he probably did mean every word of them. He wrote them long before our relationship even started to show the tiniest of cracks, when we were very much in love and when I was facing my first mother’s day but without my baby. I guess that made some sort of sense as I did begin to calm down a little bit again and put the cards back in the box and closed the lid.
So after a long chat (and it was now getting really late at night) I thanked her lots for taking time out of her Saturday night to sit and talk to me. I apologised for all the crying I’d done and felt a bit embarrassed about it… I don’t really do the whole crying in front of people thing… but again she told me not to be silly and that crying is what we do when we’re upset, it’s completely natural, and right now I have a lot of upsetting thoughts that I’m trying to deal with. She said again that she was proud of me for not giving in to the self harm urges, re-checked I’d be OK and told me to text her any time the next day if I was struggling then we said goodnight.
I lay there for hours with my head pounding from all the crying I had done and then finally fell asleep feeling a bit better for talking to someone.
But then I woke up on Sunday morning (yesterday) and my very first thoughts upon waking were “cut yourself, just do it” and I burst into tears straight away. I got up and felt determined that I was not going to listen to those thoughts nor act upon them. I tried to busy myself by having a shower, walking the dogs, trying to do some studying, but to be honest no distraction was actually distracting me. The thoughts were constant and at the very front of my mind no matter what I tried to do to block them out. So then I tried doing things the other way and allowed all of the thoughts to flood my brain, sat and cried and listened to every single reason why I should cut myself. Needless to say this approach didn’t get me very far either. I got through ’til about 5pm before I felt like I was seriously going to lose it so I sent a text to lovely support worker and said I was struggling a lot and that I didn’t think I could stop myself from self harming for much longer. She replied asking if I’d like to have a chat but I didn’t want to take up her Sunday as well so I decided to leave it for a bit before replying to see if I could calm myself down on my own.
The next few hours were an absolute nightmare, my head hasn’t felt that crazy in a long time, I tried and tried to fight back but was running out of fight. By the time it got to around 9pm I finally started to lose it big time. Now at this point I *should* have text/emailed/phoned my support worker and talked it through but I had become so focused on needing to harm myself that I couldn’t think about anything else. So I got some towels and a clean blade and then turned the light off so I was sitting on the living room floor in the dark. [Insert warning here: self harming in the dark is not a clever idea, you could easily go too deep by accident and cause nerve damage, hit a vein or worse nick an artery, you could cut at a tendon or muscle and risk permanent damage to a limb… etc etc] But yeah, I just didn’t want to see what I was doing, I just wanted to feel the pain from it and fully intended to just cut one time, sit and feel that stinging throbbing sensation and then stop. But of course, as always with self harming, it didn’t turn out that way. I made three pretty nasty cuts which didn’t look too bad when I turned the light back on, but the sight of them and the blood on the towels made me not want to stop. So I cut deeper and deeper into the three cuts I’d made until it was at the point of them all being gaping open a fair bit. When I was finally ‘finished’ it was only then I realised that I didn’t have any essential first aid stuff in the house and there was a lot of blood soaking through the towels… so I began to panic a little bit. Even though it was about 10.30pm I sent a text to lovely support worker apologising profusely and explaining what I’d done. She replied asking if I needed to go to A&E? I text back saying ‘yes probably, but I don’t want to go’ then we spent the next half an hour texting back and forth with her saying she wasn’t going to force me to do anything I didn’t want to do but that if I did need medical attention then she would come and pick me up and take me there. After a lot of thinking I finally decided that it would probably be the best move to have the cuts cleaned and treated properly.
So around 11pm she picked me up and I said I was so sorry, sorry for using up her free weekend time and sorry for wasting the time of the NHS. I was really anxious as I had a feeling it would be the same doctor on duty who stitched me up after my ‘accidental’ injury just over a week ago but thankfully it wasn’t. Support worker was great, she let me go and sit in the waiting area while she explained to the nurse what I’d done and explained on my behalf that I was feeling really anxious. As usual, it was a nurse I’ve seen a few times before but haven’t seen this particular nurse in about a year. She let my support worker come through to the treatment room with us and said I had done really well with getting my self harming ‘under control’ as she remembered a time I was in there every few days with wounds, and other than the ‘accident’ the other week, I haven’t attended A&E for self harm wounds since April this year. So yeah, she was nice about it and told me not to feel too bad for having a bit of a relapse.
I didn’t say very much at first… I hate that moment where they take off the DIY bandage you’ve made and expose the cuts. I always look away and refuse to look at the wounds until they have been treated and covered up. One of the cuts just needed glue and steri strips but the other two were quite a bit deeper. I’ve had cuts less deep than them needing proper stitches before, but the problem was that the two cuts were so close together I don’t think it would have been possible to stitch them. So she asked if I was happy to have them glued and taped together and I said yes. It looked quite neat once she was finished but the dressing I have on my leg has quite a lot of blood on it today and I’m not sure if a bit of the glue has burst. I don’t want to take the dressing pad off because I only have one spare one and so long as no new fresh blood appears then it doesn’t really matter too much if a little glue has burst, me and medical glue don’t really get along, I always seem to burst a bit of it somewhere.
Anyways, going back to what I was saying… the A&E nurse was gentle, non judgemental and kind to me. I notice if you have someone with you, especially someone they see as a supporting professional, then all of the A&E nurses and doctors tend to be a bit nicer towards you. I asked her if I could just care for the wound myself instead of the usual routine of going back after 2 days for a wound check then returning again to have the stitches or steri strips or whatever removed. She said that would be OK as she knows I know what signs to look out for regarding infection etc. I then asked her if it would be possible for them not to send over the information to the mental health team even though it is in my care plan that if I attend A&E a copy of the notes should be sent over to them. She was a bit reluctant to do that though and asked me why I didn’t want the mental health team to know. I answered as honestly as I could:
- Nobody from the mental health team ever contacts me even when they do receive a copy of the notes from A&E
- This in turn makes me annoyed that I stick to my end of my care plan but they don’t stick to their end to even make a quick phone call to ask if I’m OK
- If crappy CPN#2 doesn’t even attempt to make contact with me when I didn’t attend for 10-12 weeks in a row then there isn’t much chance of her making contact following an A&E visit
- I end up just feeling let down and like no one really cares when I know those notes have been sent over but nobody even acknowledges them
Adding to this I also explained that I’m not finding my current CPN very helpful at all. I told the A&E nurse I did have an appointment to see CPN#2 last week but didn’t attend it so that would be even more reason for CPN#2 to turn round and say “well you had an appointment, you could have come to see me but you chose not too” – when in fact the reality is even if I had gone to see her my ‘current mood’ is never a topic for her little agenda so in reality I wouldn’t have been able to talk about how crap I was feeling anyway. The A&E nurse said she completely understood where I was coming from but that she would feel much better for sending over the notes anyway. She said at least this way, if nobody does make contact, then I have even more ‘evidence’ that this CPN is not the right one for me. So in the end I agreed that the notes could be sent over and lovely support worker agreed I’d done the right thing.
By the time we got back to mine it was well after midnight and we sat in support worker’s car and chatted for a little while before I actually realised how late it was and thanked her very much for coming with me and for supporting me all weekend. I have an appointment to see her again tomorrow afternoon and am going to get a little thank you card for going above and beyond in helping me these past few days.
So yeah, it’s been a very difficult weekend, lots of emotions, lots of crying and another three scars to add to my already horrendous looking legs. But at the same time I was never left feeling alone with all these mixed up emotions, I felt supported and that in turn enabled me to feel like I could be honest and not have to hold back… I could just admit to what I was feeling and let people help me. I’m still not sure if the urges to self harm are out of my system but at least I no longer have to keep those thoughts to myself, I know now I have at least one person I can talk to when things get really rough who won’t judge me but simply reassure me that it’s OK to feel how I feel. It still really annoys me that support worker is having to take that role at the moment, I truly believe that it should be the job of CPN#2 to look after my “mental health needs” rather than my support worker who is there to help with my ongoing issues regarding the sexual assault in August last year and the issues I still have surrounding the childhood sexual abuse I suffered. Thankfully when it comes to the topic of self harm it is one that my support worker is quite knowledgeable about as sexual abuse and self harm often go hand in hand, but still, it would be nice to have a CPN who actually made me feel like she cared once in a while.
Sorry for over 3000 words of rambles… hope I didn’t bore you too much(!) I guess I just have to hope now that this new week is a better one… so yeah… will see how it goes…