TW: contains references to self-harm. Please proceed only if you are comfortable with the subject matter.
I had an appointment with my GP this morning and I was able to be reasonably positive while with him. I explained that I had been feeling a little more relaxed and, as such, my day-to-day living has been a bit more productive. I told him I felt slightly more focussed, with better concentration. Then he asked about my SH behaviours, and to have a look at my arms. The state of my arms negated everything I had just told him. How could I spew forth such piffle about feeling better in myself knowing the damage I’ve been doing to my own body?
If you asked me ten years ago to define the word ‘compensation’, I’d have gone with either one of these, taken from the online Oxford English Dictionary:
1. Something, typically, money awarded to someone in recognition of loss, suffering or injury.
2. The action or process of awarding compensation.
But I have since heard it thrown around by a number of different health professionals, and would now favour this definition, also taken from the online Oxford English Dictionary:
3. The process of concealing or offsetting a psychological difficulty by developing in another direction.
In the context of this post, the above definition is the most accurate. And this is the pattern I have observed in myself over the last 5-10 years. One thing improves, and another deteriorates. SH is what I would describe as my default ‘coping strategy’. Even when in full-time work, I’d cut myself before leaving the house in the morning and this would allow me to gain some control over my day.
Since, I’ve resorted to different methods of SH, none of which are important here. Suffice to say, I have always used some kind of harmful behaviour as a tool, a method by which I might maintain some external composure. In extreme cases, of course, I believe myself to be in control when I am the exact opposite. The SH takes the reins and I exhibit nigh on psychotic behaviour.
Conversely, I can be ‘clean’ in terms of SH, for long stretches of time. But I’ll be agitated, anxious, my days will be chaotic and my emotions difficult to manage.
So that seems to be where I’m at right now. I’m not experiencing an ‘extreme case’, but I’m cutting to maintain control over everything else…my blogs, drawing, reading, spending time in company, chatting to family over the dinner table.
The answer, of course, lies in the work I’m doing with my Psychologist at the moment. We are looking at ‘Compassion Focussed Therapy’ and how I might learn to be a bit kinder to myself. I fear she might be fighting a losing battle.