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 😉
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.
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.
It worked wonderfully!!! 🙂
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.
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.