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Cindy Truheart

Is this self harm?

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Late last week I had lost it again for a while. Depression, doubt, anxiety, guilt, you know, that cocktail of bad thoughts and emotions. I have time during the day where nothing much is going on and I can essentially be on autopilot for my job. This frees up my mind to rehash things as well as dwell on the negative aspects of my life. My therapist tried to help me with it, but was more concerned with keeping me on an even keel in regards to not causing my life to implode after I popped my cap. I'm not seeing her anymore because we are about to move, but I do plan to find a new therapist once we are settled in to the new place.

I've been trying to work on it on my own, but sometimes things just go too far and I start to get overwhelmed. If I can't reign myself in, if I can't pull myself out of the downward spiral, I have to physically punch something. I used to think it was an anger thing, and there is anger there, but its more that I'm angry at myself for being this way. I can't just punch something soft or something that won't cause me damage either. I tried that, it doesn't work at all. It has to be something hard like a brick wall, a wooden door, a metal door, or the roof of the car if I'm driving. I usually don't just hit it once either, three or four times is the average and I'm usually putting everything I have into it as well. Afterward, my knuckles and hand are on fire with pain, but I can also think more clearly. It's as if the pain knocks me out of my depression. I'm able to function like normal again, I'm able to smile and things don't seem as bad anymore for some reason. It's like my depression is cut off in that instant and suddenly the sun is shining again. I don't fall back into it, because all I have to do is move my hand, feel that pain, and I'm good again.

As I write this I'm looking at the knuckles of one hand which are black, purple, and yellow. I have scars across the knuckles, the backs of my hands, and up my forearms from the splintered edges of wood, glass, and even metal that I've managed to go through. I can't help but think that this is a kind of self harm thing. I used to cut when I was young, but got found out and told I couldn't do that anymore. I even got weekly inspections from my Dad to make sure I didn't start back up. It was around this time that I started punching and head butting lockers at school. People just thought I was an angry kid so nobody tried to stop me. Maybe I switched one form of self harm for another?

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While not a professional in behavioral health by any means, I do see where this is at least in the ballpark of self harm based on my own experience with drug and alcohol addiction and why we do the garbage that we do.  Your description of what triggers the  punching, and what the pain does for you also mirror my experience with cutter's and other types of SH, and yes, even my former desires for a brief gut wrenching and burning of high percentage alcohol as it went "down the hatch".  The pain from that did get my mind off the stress that had been affecting me on those occasions and "reset my programming".  Please get back in touch with your therapist, or see if there is some type of support group you can get in  touch with to help deal with the stresses behind this. 

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