***Trigger Warning*** This post discuss self-harm and cutting behavior.
As I stand on my scale to weight myself, I am very ashamed of the very large number painfully flashing brightly at me. I am trying to decrease that number, but that is a different story for a different day. For now, I will keep that number private between me and my lifetime frenemy, my scale.
Sometimes people tell me I am brave for sharing my story and my journey of living with Bipolar Disorder. However, I do not feel that makes me brave at all, as it is is my passion and my duty as a fellow bipolar disorder survivor to be a voice and help educate society and help others feel and know they are not alone. I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when sharing my story as Bipolar is an illness I have and live with daily.
There is a part of my story I have kept private and have been afraid to tell others.
It will be a difficult step for me to share this part of my story, but it will be important, freeing and good for me to do so for many reasons.
I am going to share a secret part of my journey, baring my soul and letting these private parts of my journey painfully flashing brightly for you to see.
For over 22 years I periodically engaged in self-injurious behaviors. There are many different types of self injurious behaviors and the technique of my self injurious behavior was slightly different than most other types of self injurious behaviors.
I was mostly a cutter. Many cutters use a razor blade to cut lines on the subcutaneous layers of their skin on their arms and legs.
I did try cutting myself with a razor a few times since I thought it was a safer method than the type of cutting behavior I performed on myself most of the time, however I found out it was not as effective for me to at least temporarily reduce and relieve my severe mental pain I was having and living with.
I would walk into the privacy of my bathroom, lock the door, sit on my toilet, take a razor blade and start carving and cutting designs of straight lines onto my skin feeling the slight pain as a relief from the much more severe internal mental pain I was feeling. The cutting began to feel like a high as I watched the droplets of red blood form from the cut of the sharp razor, forming a stream of blood that dripped off my skin and fell onto the floor beneath me. The deeper the cuts the better it felt for me.
I usually tried to cut as high on my arm and legs as I could in places people would not be able to see later as I did not want people to know of my behavior. I wanted to keep my cutting as private as possible.
I cut with a razor a few too many times over the years causing me to leave a few permanent lines of tattoo scars placed strategically high on my left arm and legs in a few random places.
One time about 20 years ago, I purposely took a very hot bath so I could cut on myself and I cut both of my inner thighs very deeply. My cuts were deep enough to need stitches, but I did not want to go back to the hospital again, so I took care of the severe cuts myself stopping the blood and bandaging the wounds myself the best I could. By that time in my journey, I had all ready been hospitalized too many times and did not want another hospital stay as they would have forced me to stay in the Psychiatric hospital after seeing the severity of the injury I had inflicted on myself.
The severity of my wounds left large permanent scars on my thighs. When I gave birth to my youngest daughter, a nurse saw my legs and asked me if I had been in a car accident. I was very embarrassed and answered with only a very short and brief, “No!” I did not want to explain the truth. That is how bad the scars on my legs are that I personally and permanently carved on myself.
My favorite method of SIB of cutting on myself was using a very sharp cuticle scissors with a very pointed tip. I began by pressing the sharp pointed tip deep into my skin and getting it underneath the layers of my skin and began cutting. Like the precision of a surgeon, I began the cutting process.
I had much more control using these scissors and I could go deeper and deeper with each cut into the layers of skin on my arm. This also caused more bleeding which I liked to see and had become more addicted to. I soon became addicted to my self injurious behavior.
I used my cutting behavior to take me away from my life at that moment and go away. I disassociated while I was engaging in my SIB, so this took me away from my severe mental pain I was trying to survive.
My ritual became more and more addictive and I started feeling a high like feeling while I was cutting. My behavior became not a choice anymore but something I had to do. It was the only way to get relief from the lonely internal hell I was living in. I felt it was better than killing myself. It distracted me from the constant suicidal ideations I was having.
I did this cutting ritual periodically for years and got better and better at cutting on the inside crease of my forearm. I cut on that spot on my arm as I thought that spot was not as visible to other people as other areas on my arm might be.
For years I had cut in the same exact place on the inside crease of my arm so more scar tissue developed over time making it was easier to cut into deeper layers of my skin. Because I was able to cut so deeply into my skin, I started cutting layers of fat out of my arm .Cutting the layers of fat out of my arm was fun for me. I cut chunks of fat away looking at the yellowish jello like substance as I removed each piece from my arm.
As I type this it brings me back to those horrific days and to the distraction, addictive joy, relief, high it brought to me at that time in my life. My SIB probably saved my life to a point as it distracted me from my many suicidal thoughts and a possible actual suicide.
One of the main reasons I stopped cutting on the inner middle crease on my arm and stopped cutting at all was masked as a blessing in disguise, but actually was a blessing from God, of course.
The last time I cut on that same inside crease on my arm I reached a place so deep or cut a vein or something that the blood started pouring out of my arm. I was not trying to kill myself and I did not want to die. Because so much blood started pouring out of my arm so rapidly I got sacred and I called 911. Later, my blood loss started slowing down so I knew it would stop soon. I didn’t want to be embarrassed and have the ambulance come and I did not want to go to the hospital again. Ridiculously, I called 911 back and told them they didn’t need to come anymore because the blood was stopping and I was fine now. They of course came anyway.
I told the EMTs I didn’t want to go to the hospital, they said they had to bring me. I asked them if I could at least clean up all of my blood that was covering my kitchen floor and they kindly let me clean up my blood. In fact, they even helped me clean up the blood off of my kitchen floor. They took care of my wound and brought me to the hospital. Of course I had another long and unwanted stay in the Psychiatric hospital.
I have cut in that same spot on my arm so many times that I have formed an indention, a very large permanent tattoo scar and hole in the inside crease of my arm.
Due to my cutting and severe bleeding scare I quit any form of self inflicted cutting behavior and have never cut again.
I was very addicted to SIB, so even though I quit cutting I still had the huge strong desires to engage in self injurious behaviors. One day to stop my mental pain and constant suicidal ideations I decided to burn myself with my cigarette. I was a smoker at the time so that would be easy to do. I do not smoke anymore, however.
Because I didn’t want anyone to see my injury, I decided to burn myself on my stomach. Preparing for my procedure, I lit my cigarette, raised my short to my midriff and began my mental pain relief of SIB.
Taking the red hot burning tip of my cigarette, I slowly and carefully placed the burning embers on my perfectly smooth and pearly white stomach holding it on my skin long enough to feel the pain and know it burned well. I was not done. It felt good. I did it again and felt some relief from my severe mental pain. It hurt, but it hurt good. I do it again and again. Burn. Do it again. Burn. My flesh was burning off in a small circle one touch of the cigarette at a time.
Like the artist that I am I made two perfectly formed horizontal lines going across my midriff with ten cigarette burn dots on the top line and ten cigarette burn dots on the bottom, obviously twenty in total.
I was done. I made enough burn marks distracting myself from the pain I was in long enough to numb me out and distract myself for now. I temporarily felt a little better. My stomach was numb and it didn’t hurt, not yet anyway. Later after the burns kicked into my system forming 2nd degree burns, the PAIN began forming large blisters on my stomach. I know my burns needed medical attention and treatment but again I could not go to the hospital and had to treat my burn wounds by myself so no one would know.
I learned never to burn myself again as the healing process was long and excruciatingly painful. The act of burning myself with a cigarette was not bad at all for me. It was the healing process that was agony and seemed to take forever to heal.
After the blisters popped, scabs started forming. Each time I moved, it would cause excruciating pain, a reminder of the self inflicted injury I caused. However, his time the healing process caused pain when I did not want it.
This time I left different kinds of permanent scars on my skin. Right in the middle of my pure snow white stomach were two rows of white circular dots forever tattooed onto my skin as a painful shameful reminder. I am ashamed of my scars even though I know I am not supposed to be as they are supposed to be a reminder of the struggles I survived.
I have not cut or burned myself or engaged in any self injurious behave for over two years. Praise God.
One of my many miracles I would like to point out is that for the many years I cut in such a deep hole into the middle inside crease of my left arm I never cut a large vein or artery. If you look at your inner arm there is that huge vein in the middle. I have cut there so many times that my vein pops out high above the deep indentation and hole I cut into my arm. It rises high above the hole in my arm protruding upward as if to remind me God is always with me.
Through the many years of cutting so deeply there somehow that vein seemed to roll and move away from my sharp cutting motion and scissors. Even when I attempted to cut it, I could never cut that vein. It was impossible for me as if it ran away from my scissors.
My doctors said they do not know how I never cut anything serious. I know. It was because God was always with me, watching over me, protecting me and saving me.
I need to remind myself that my scars are beautiful tattoos embellished by God from His love for me as a forever reminder of my strength, courage and perseverance of the many battles I won and the many struggles I survived.
God has truly healed me to the point that I can live a wonderful life again. As you can can see from reading many of my posts I struggled for over 20 years and was in and out of the hospital and unable to live a remotely normal type of life, fighting for my life basically everyday. But, God saved my life now and has healed me. I have been born again.
God did not heal me completely removing me entirely of bipolar disorder, but he healed me significantly so that I now know and love Jesus Christ and live my life entirely with Him and for Him. Sure I still have some symptoms sometimes but with God I know I can continue to fight my symptoms and finally live a good and happy fulfilled life.
God saved my life. Through Him I am born again and in me God loves and lives. Praise God. He is so awesome.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. 21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
2 LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
1 Peter 2:24
24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”