As The Bloggess (www.thebloggess.com) is now disclosing her struggles with depression and self-harm, I’m sure many more than I are also outing ourselves.
I self-harm. In different ways. For different reasons.
The most common way I do is pulling at my hair called trichotillomania. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichotillomania
It is calming. I focus on the broken end and zone out. The rest of the world blurs and I can’t see or hear clearly. Minutes will pass, sometimes half an hour. I have no memory. Often I do not even realize I am doing it. It is automatic.
My triggers are boredom and stress. Anxiety, clutter, deadlines, tiredness, sunny windows, mirrors, and self-loathing work too.
A ‘helpful’ commenter asked the Bloggess to think about her 5 year old daughter seeing her self-harm as inspiration for stopping. Guilt does not stop something likely triggered by guilt. I know.
I tried various techniques to stop it. I used to go up and confess at every altar call I could. If I really loved God, I would hate this sin enough to stop.
Self-hating techniques backfired, so I tried telling myself that I loved my hair. Which would work until a trigger happened along. Angry at my failure, I would punish myself with more tearing or something else like overeating. Or just name calling and begging forgiveness from God for a worthless sinner chained by sin.
If I couldn’t stop for God or myself, maybe I could for my husband. Maybe I could love him enough to stop.
It didn’t work.
Then Lil’T came along. I had to stop for her! Or she would do it too and it would be all my fault!
It got worse.
I don’t have a magic answer.
If I take my vitamins (heavy Bs and Mg) it is much better. I can manage my triggers a little.
I do this more now after having kids, but at least I don’t punish myself for it. And I no longer think of myself as the one person with shameful secrets. That in itself is a relief.