Successful Coping Skill for Self-Injury

Long time no see.

Grad school is stressful (duh) and living on my own, in a new state, means much less support. However, I’ve managed relatively well. I’ve caused some bumps along the way, but I still have my internship and I’ve passed 2 out of 3 semesters. I’m about 1/2 through with my last semester right now!

I haven’t forgotten about the peeps who are just here for the inspirational pic 😉

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However, this week, stress has come to a head. Long story short: I was battling severe Self-injurious behavior urges today.

Details: I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours because I am overwhelmed with the workload this semester and anxious I won’t pass. Granted, I am always anxious I won’t measure up. To be fair, this semester, the concern is warranted. I am currently failing one class. Uh oh!!

Using the syllabus I calculated the remaining possible points in the course and I can still pass as long as I do well on the midterm and final exams. The midterm is next week! I am extremely behind in reading. The exam is essay based and the questions come from the reading. Of course, this is no ones fault, but my own…

Anyway, the urges were intense enough that I was unable to function. I did not go to work yesterday. I got nothing done for school or my practicum, even though (for once) I was awake all day. This morning, intrusive images made it tough to distract from the urges. When suicidal thoughts and a plan entered the picture, I decided riding out the urges was not a safe option.

Buffy_too much for me want it to be over

In treatment, people sometimes held ice as a coping skill because it causes pain, but no tissue damage (as long as you are careful to watch for frostbite and are able to curtail the SIB urges enough to take off the ice as needed, if tissue damage begins). I find that a little helpful. The pain works to elevate my mood. However, blood is a strong motivation for me as well. It is a discriminative stimulus for relief from overwhelming negative emotions. The sight of my own blood is so strongly paired with SIB that without it, the compulsion remains.

Therefore, I tried something new! I froze ice cubes made by mixing red food coloring with water.

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It worked wonderfully!!! 🙂

 

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Next time I’ll do a few things differently. I’ll put a towel down under my arm to avoid staining. I got the red  out of the counter tops, but it took a few seconds with a Brillo pad. Additionally, I’ll have paper towels within reach.

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Surprisingly, the red dye came out of the silicon ice cube tray without a hitch,

The important take away is I avoided self-injuring despite struggling with the urges for over 24 hours.

 

If seeing blood and feeling pain are part of your self-injury, are there other ways you sublimate the urge? What works for you? I hope this helps someone avoid SIB.

 

 

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Alexithymia Annoyance

Annoyance is the feeling, but I’m not actually feeling it. I just liked alliteration.

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I want to cut right now and I don’t know why. I’m not thinking about anything upsetting. I’m not dissociating. I don’t feel depressed. I can’t identify any negative feelings, other than, “I-want-to-self-injure”. Lame.

I told my boss’ boss on Friday that I was leaving. That made me want to cut. I think I felt sad because I also felt like crying, but maybe it was anxiety. I’m not sure.

dean supernatural facepalm

Strong enough?

I’m nervous about Ginny leaving because I don’t know if I’ll handle things as well without her. I would never have disclosed to anyone 2 weeks ago, much less asked my boss for help dealing with my student’s identical history.


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Thursdays are bad news apparently because this Thursday I ended up in tears at work again! This time, one of my new students (a different one) disclosed abuse. I was “normally” upset; I felt sad and worried for him. However, I flipped out when I heard my boss’s boss called his PARENTS instead of calling the child abuse hotline.

I was furious. I abruptly turned to leave the room, but Ginny yelled at me, “Don’t storm away from me!” She knows me well enough to know I was probably about to self-injure. I stopped in my tracks and she took me to the same empty office we talked in last week. It took me some time to explain why I was upset and when she understood, she teared up. I was scared for him! He refused to get on the bus for a long time and I said I wouldn’t have gotten on that bus either! I understood what he felt, to a certain degree, because I tried to disclose my situation once and realized the school counselor would report me based on her probing questions. So, I recanted and never told anyone until last week. DFS wouldn’t get an investigator to his house that night, meaning he was alone. I remember a separate incident where I accidentally said something to a teacher, which my parents thought could get DFS involved. Their reaction was highly emotional and they’re relatively normal people. A few things were thrown at me and more than a few things were broken that night. I was imagining the worst for my student, whose story was much more straightforward. 

Thankfully, he came to school the next day and he impressed me with his control. He eloped a few times and hit, but also talked to us and vented. He had more self-control than I did.

I would have self-injured the day before if I hadn’t talked to Ginny. When I turned to leave the room, I wasn’t thinking rationally anymore, I was going to look for a blade. I would not have stopped on my own, but her yelling bought me time to talk and calm down. My boss promised she will never be a part of that again and Ginny said she is going to try to convince the administration to have everyone undergo mandatory reporter training to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I hope it works! However, I’m worried the next time I encounter something triggering at work, which seems to happen frequently lately, I won’t be able to handle it.

On another note:

I wonder why Bulimia is correlated with childhood sexual abuse more than other eating disorders. I can’t stomach anymore journal articles right now, but I wish I could find out why.

One-sided Competition to the Death

Clearly I'm not handling this well_Xander_Buffy

I’m dealing with the minor, insignificant rejection worse than I anticipated. I expected to feel hurt when I saw people’s pictures. Earlier this week, I asked my high school friend if she wanted to see Thor this weekend to distract myself. She did and that was validating. Plus, the movie was great!

However, I’m restricting and purged what I ate with her. I look like I got punched in the face and received 2 black eyes. I keep thinking, “I can’t make them like me or care, but I CAN be better than they are. I can be thinner.”

 
I’m dealing lots of cognitive dissonance. I know this is a small thing to worry about. I know it won’t matter in 6 months or even 2 months. Honestly, I shouldn’t care what anyone who I don’t consider a friend or above me in the workplace hierarchy thinks of me. Despite that knowledge, I feel hurt.

How do you deal with feeling left out, invisible, or disliked?

 

Feeling Invisible

Felicia Day_i think that is why I like video games

A coworker got married tonight and most people from  work were invited. The invitation list included people she never talks to and who she has only known a few months. In contrast, we went on a weekend winery trip together, have known each other for years, and used to work together closely. One day, at lunch, she mentioned struggling to come up with 200 people to invite and even including some coworkers she didn’t like to meet her guest list goal. I was sitting across the table from her when she said this.

Ginny was invited and said it was nice.  I asked how it s out of jealous curiosity.

I’m trying to vent my feelings here so I don’t complain to Ginny. That would be  downer. It would be unfair to bring her mood down because I am like a ghost.

I know I overreact to social stuff a lot because I’m scared everyone sees me the way I see myself… I’m try, but failing, to shut up the refrain in my head… “No one likes you. You’re unlovable, no one would notice if you starved to death. If you were good enough, people would care. If you were thin enough, people would notice. ”

How would YOU feel in this situation? Am I being an idiot?!

Isolation

I complain a lot about not having many friends and not having a significant other, but I sit here avoiding my 2 or 3 friends and ignoring interested people because I don’t deserve caring.

Acting opposite is hard.

I caught myself thinking, “My eating disorder will always be my friend.”

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Am I Dark Willow or am I Warren? Haha, I’m not sure. However, I am sure “my eating disorder is my friend” is a messed up thought and I’m mad at myself for thinking it. WHY am I prioritizing a deadly mental illness over relationships with other human beings?!

At the same time, I’m not sick enough for help.

How many trials?!

How many trials will it take for me to know asking off work is an awful idea?! My employer’s paid time off policy is that any PTO you don’t use in a calendar year rolls over to an emergency bank. You can only use emergency bank hours for big events like hospitalization or surgery, not simple sick days. The days are not paid out if you leave the company. Therefore, you will likely lose them. When I first arrived, they paid you the unused PTO at the end of the year. That was wonderful! I know it cost them money though.

Anyway, as a result, of this policy, I took a week off. We were supposed to take a trip to see my brother, which would’ve taken my mind off myself. However, that didn’t end up happening. So, I’m just hanging out at home, wondering how my kids at work are fairing, and obsessing over eating disordered thoughts.

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On the bright side, one usual reaction to boredom is self-injury or binging. I haven’t done either; I’m sleeping a lot.