Tag Archives: Self-harm

To Write Love On Her Arms

 To Write Love On Her Arms is a U.S-based organisation which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues, reduce suicide rates and provide hope to the many who are feeling trapped by depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. They achieve this through their blog, work in schools, colleges, and out on the streets.

 

To Write Love On Her Arms: The Story

The organisation began as a blog, after the founder, Jamie Tworkowski, wrote a short piece, which went viral over the internet, about her friend who struggled with self-injury and addiction. The story was called To Write Love On Her Arms.

Vision & Beliefs

What I love about this organisation is their vision, and their beliefs:

“You were created to love and be loved.
You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known.
You need to know your story is important, and you’re part of a bigger story.
You need to know your life matters.”

Their t-shirts (sold to make many for the organisation) bear slogans, such as:

“Hold on, I am still alive.”

“We will be the hopeful.”

“Let us not be silent.”

“Wake up. You’re still alive. We’re on your side.”

“People need other people.”

Their message is one of hope, love, support, positivity, and the importance of community. They talk of the strength and courage it takes to live everyday struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. We are the strong!

The Unseen Courageous is an article on their blog which illustrates this point perfectly.

Start A Conversation: Let’s Talk About Mental Health And Support Each Other!

Awareness is also promoted through their t-shirts, bearing the logo “To Write Love On Her Arms”. The slogan is a real conversation starter, which then offers the opportunity for you to tell the story of the organisation, your own story, or that of someone you love. Today is the day to start talking about mental health issues! The chances are that the person you are talking to has either experienced mental health issues themselves, or knows someone who has. Talking helps us all feel less alone and lets others know that there is help out there. Create an opportunity to share your experiences and support other people!

Now is the time to banish the shame felt through stigma and silence!

Resources

To Write Love On Her Arms

Related Posts:

Teen Mental Health Awareness

Football’s Suicide Secret

The Darkest Days and Survival

Face Fear: Making Peace With Your Shadow

Male Suicide: R.I.P Gary Speed.

My Dark Side: How To Know Thyself

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The Worst Days

***** TRIGGER WARNING***** (Self-harm).

Today has been the worst day I’ve had in about 10 months.

It’s 7.30pm and I’m finally out of bed and showered.

I slept all day.

I didn’t want to get up.

I thought about self-harming a lot. (But didn’t).

I felt huge surges of aggression towards myself.

I know I’m turning a whole load of anger in on myself.

I got angry at the weekend but didn’t express it- this is what happens when you don’t deal with it when it comes up.

I feel like I’m rejecting this part of myself. I find it so hard to love and accept.

I’m feeling a little better tonight, but my movements and thinking have gone slow again.

I’ll feel better tomorrow.
I’ll feel better tomorrow.
I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Bipolar Psychosis? Indecision and Confusion.

(Photo Credit: Nick. K available under a Creative Commons Licence).

I’m riddled with confusion and indecisiveness today. I stand, statue still, in the middle of the city streets not knowing what I’m doing or where I’m going. People bustle their way from shop to shop, laiden with bags of all shapes and sizes. They are so purposeful in their pursuit of goods- there is a kind of primitive hunting drive about it. But it is all so quick and fast around me. I can’t decide where to go so I just freeze. If in doubt I head to the coffee shop- my safe haven.

I’m confused as to whether or not I’m hearing voices. Are the words in my head from my own thoughts or another source? They don’t feel like my own at all. My own thoughts are muddled and repeat over and over “I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I’m doing“. Other thoughts feel as if they come from some mischievous ghost following me around. I got irritable listening to a loud woman in the cafe today, surrounded by 10 or so chronies hanging off her every word, as the whole cafe learnt of her daughter’s wedding plans. “Tell her she’s an obnoxious attention-seeker” whispers the ghost in my ear. “Shout it out, she’ll be so shocked, it’ll be hilarious“. Woah!! Hold on a second- that wasn’t me was it?! That’s so unlike me. All these mingling thoughts and voices are confusing. Is this a kind of psychosis?

Every morning is the same at the moment. Even though I want to stay at home, I feel compulsively pressured to go to the city- to the library or coffee shop to read and write. Getting out of the house is generally a good thing, helping me to feel more alive and distracting me from destructive thoughts. But this compulsion feels obsessive and pressured now and I don’t seem to be able to stop.  I am treading the well worn path, maybe it’s just because it’s the simplest thing to do- I don’t have to think too much. I even feel I have to get the same bus at the same time and go to places in the same order as usual. Maybe it’s because when I stay at home alone bad things have happened in the past. I just don’t think I can bare to be on my own at the moment- unusual for an introvert like me. It’s not necessarily conversation I want, just the security of other people being around, a little interaction with shop staff and anonymous company.

I feel I must keep moving, keep doing- I don’t want to see the mess inside my head- the images of arm slicing, blood dripping. The urge to act on this can get stronger at home alone. As disturbing as this may sound it’s fairly normal for me during a depressive episode. In the past I have acted, but I’m lucky I’ve never become addicted like some. Just because the urge is there though, the picture clear in my mind, doesn’t mean I have to act on it. But it is still scary and I distract myself with food- cakes and biscuits. I don’t want to sit with these thoughts. I feel like a scared child, locked in a room on their own, with an intense fear of ghosts and monsters. I really do! I sometimes really do feel like there are ghosts living with me.

My thoughts are not so slow anymore. They are more irritable, urgent and insistent. I feel I’m being bossed about by this unnamed ghost. The slow movement only seems to occur now when I’ve been active for a while, or when I’m becoming anxious and panicky with indecision and confusion.

I do think I’m better than I was 10 days ago when I could barely walk. I’m glad I can get out and about- I just wish it felt a bit more on my own terms. The light box is great. I actually enjoy sitting by it- it gets nice and warm and I feel a bit of sunshine light up inside me. Would highly recommend.

Bipolar Disorder: The Darkest Days and Survival.

Song of the Day (2): Stone Cold Sober by Paloma Faith

(Photo Credit: Connie Snow- This Little Blog of Mine, available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License).

Warning: this post includes content on suicide and self-harm.

Seeing as I’m having a bit of a dark day myself I thought I’d tackle the subject I’ve least wanted to write about: self harm and suicide attempts. I’ve been there. These were some of my darkest hours when I could see absolutely no way out- I was a lot younger then and had yet to find the right medication. All I know is it was 11 years ago and I still haven’t gotten over it. It only happened once, because every time I’ve been close to it since then, I’ve managed to go back to all the regret and pain it caused- there is no way I would ever do it again. I don’t want to go into too much detail mainly in case people I know read this, but also because it’s a horrible thing to read about.  At the time I thought I was the only one, it was like being on the moon with no one else there- only rock and dark and emptiness. No colour, no air. No hope of being rescued. I could watch everyone else from a distance, but no one could hear me or see what was really going on inside.

During the different cycles I’ve been through over the years, other deep, despairing depressions have come and gone and I would like to emphasize GONE! They do go, you may have to be bloody patient, grit your teeth, kick and scream and survive in any way you can, but they’re gone! They go. It’s about SURVIVAL. It hurts, it can be so painful and so lonely, but just survive on the darkest days. I found ways to survive and one dysfunctional behaviour stays with me still: binge-eating; apparently a common comorbid condition with Bipolar. I see it as a residual symptom of suicidal days- it pains me on days like today where I hate it with every fibre of my being, but I have to remind myself- it helped me survive. Don’t consciously go out to do it- there is no way I would recommend it to get through suicidal ideation/self-harm periods, it can cause more heartache. But for now I try and see it as something that kept me alive and I’ve no doubt it did. It is something I can work on now that my meds are working (thank God for Lamotrigine). But I am exceptionally strong- I see that now that I’m out the other side. I didn’t give in.

If you are in one of these dark places right now- tough it out. Do what you can to get through. Survive. You don’t have to be anything other than alive during these times. Getting to the end of the day is an achievement. Stay in bed all day, watch TV all day, play computer games all day. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are at your lowest point, but if that’s what you’ve got to do to distract yourself do it. Call the Samaritans, your psychiatrist, community psychiatric nurse, tell them the truth. You’ll feel less alone for just having told someone. Get emergency counselling- there are many organizations who will do this either for free or a very low fee.

One of my therapists once gave me a great suggestion for the worst days- the Emergency Box. The idea is that when you are feeling like you want to self-harm, or worse, you open the box and rummage through the contents. You can customize the box any way you like, which is actually quite fun in itself. The best boxes to use are shoe boxes or something of a similar size. Here’s the kind of thing you can put in:

– Photos from brilliant times you’ve had/of people you love.

– Old letters people have written you.

– Certificates, medals, artwork you’ve created- anything you’re really proud of. I’ve even put my school reports in, there were some really nice things said.

– A dose of  anti-psychotic/anti-anxiety meds if you’ve been subscribed one for these particular times.

– I’ve written letters to myself when I’ve been well – to remind me how to get through it all and that it wont last forever- and put them in the box.

– Also leaflets for local counselling services, number of friends to call, massage therapist contacts, holiday brochures, anything that can remind me of the positive parts of my life so far. When we left school we all had a book in which we could get everyone to write in, so I’ve put that in there too and cards I’ve received for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, etc.

There is one little book which I found extremely helpful during depression with little sayings in it- so you don’t have to concentrate too much. That’s there too. It’s called “When I Loved Myself Enough” by Kim McMillen and I would totally recommend it for the dark days.

Bipolar Disorder- The Inner Bully.

Song of the Day: Crazy in Love by Beyonce (just been dancing to this on Wii Just Dance 2- lots of fun)

I think one of the things I remember most from depression is the constant self-blame and hatred of myself. Coming from a place of relative stability I can now see from a different perspective what was going on in my head. At the time I could only see these thoughts as my normal way of living- it didn’t seem like anything was really different in my head to how it would usually be. Now I can see how severely depression can influence your thoughts and what is going on in the mind.

I think everyone who suffers from depression has different issues they criticize and bully themselves about. Mine were usually the same for every episode and consisted of the following:

– Beating myself up for quitting university and
not having an amazing career.

– Being so out of control with my eating habits- bingeing on sugar almost everyday.

– Being lazy and not doing anything productive.

– Being a burden on my partner who pretty much supports me financially and for relying on benefits/welfare.

– Being so grumpy and irritable.

This all leads to the same old despairing thoughts:

– I’m not good enough.
– I can’t live like this.
– I’m a waste of space.
– I’m such a burden.
– If I don’t look slim and beautiful I might as well not be here.
– I’m such a horrible person, I hate myself.
– Why would anyone want to be with me.
Etc, etc.

At the time I was depressed I honestly couldn’t see these thoughts as being a symptom of the illness. They seemed so real, I believed every word. Cognitive behavioural therapy was some help- trying to change thought patterns to more nurturing, supportive ones, such as remembering all your achievements when you can only see failure. Whilst attending the group this did seem to help, but as soon as the group finished it was difficult to motivate myself to keep up the work. I think attending the group also provides something even more important- a supportive environment from healthy people who can model a normal, healthy way of being, and from those who are also suffering and can completely see where you’re coming from. Sometimes I found myself using the group leader’s calming voices in my head to help when I was feeling low.

I really believe depression turns you into a bully- a bully to yourself. But it’s the kind of manipulative bully who is lovely to everyone else, but evil towards you- that way nobody can see that this person is really a bully. Instead they just think you’re making it up. This is how I felt a lot- that people would just think I was making everything up to claim benefits and an easy, laze-about lifestyle. I really, really believed this! I always tried as hard as possible to mask my depression to others; I didn’t want to burden others or for them to see my “weakness”, they wouldn’t understand. But in reality, so many people I know have suffered with depression at one time or another, that I think I could have gained a lot more understanding than I originally thought by being more open and not TRYING to be normal.

Looking back, I used to try so so hard to “cure” myself. I would try to read as much as possible from self-help sections to try and increase motivation and fitness and happiness. Some of the titles make me laugh now:
“Seven Days to Happiness”
“Confidence in ten days”
Like anyone can get happy in a week just by following a book- you’d have to be mega mega dedicated!

I think all this TRYING did me more harm than good. In essence I was telling myself that I was flawed and needed to be fixed- it made me focus more on any “flaw” therefore I became more and more self-critical about it. Now if I could go back to myself crying on the bedroom floor, despairing that I was absolutely no good, I would say this to myself:

“Yes the depression is real, you’re not making it up. It is an illness and it’s not your fault. Nothing is your fault. Let the depression in, give in to it, stop trying to change yourself. You are whole and a perfectly imperfect human just the way you are. The universe loves you and wants you here. Give in to the feelings of hopelessness and despair, don’t fight it, coz it will fight even harder back. Just cry it all out and get a hug from someone- anyone, I bet they’ll surprise you and be lovely to you. You are worth looking after. You are prescious. Rest, take care of yourself. Now go and crawl into that duvet on the sofa and watch Friends for the umpteenth time! And if you want a chocolate bar, eat a chocolate bar. If you want to ring that friend but are too worried that you’ll be a burden, ring them- people love to help other people. You are cared for and loved. The horrible feelings will not last forever, tomorrow you will feel a bit better. Soon the world will be bright again.”

Saying this may be easy now- but I don’t know if I’d have accepted it at the time, but I genuinely do now. I hope that maybe it can help someone else.