Don't Stare

You think that I don’t notice you staring at my scars, but I notice your eyes darting to my arms within minutes of our conversation starting.

You think its not obvious but it is, and while I put on a brave face, continue looking you in the eye I’m hurting on the inside because I know the look you are giving me. I’ve seen it many times before, the look of judgment, disgust, sympathy and the overwhelming lack of trust crossing your face, of fear, of wonder, you ask yourself “why would she show her arms like that?” telling yourself “she must be crazy to do something like that to herself” I see it day in and day out, I face judgment, silent judgment. I don’t go out of my way to cover or hide my scars; in certain situations I make the personal choice to cover them to protect myself more than to protect those around me.

I have scars littering my arms, from shoulders to wrists and hands too. I have scars covering my thighs, from hip to knee and indeed some on my calf too. I have scars across my chest and down my stomach. These scars, once a sight which symbolised strength are now beginning to loose their meaning and the love/hate relationship I once had with them is slowly developing into a relationship full of hate and yet full of acceptance. You see my scars and you cast judgment, you may not say it directly to my face but I can see it in your eyes, in your expression and in your silence. But you don’t understand, you don’t understand the war that I fought for many years, the war that I’m sill fighting, the war within my mind.

I may have days without self-harm, weeks, months even but that doesn’t mean my temptations have been weakened, the urge to silence my thoughts have disappeared but it means I am coming out on top, fighting fit and desperately trying to win the battle. My healing scars don’t excite me any longer, they don’t give me relief any longer but they do remind me that I am strong, strong enough to keep battling through. For every scar I have made it means I have not taken things a step further and ended it all, they remind me that I have got through some pretty rough times.

I have given many years of my life to self-harm and indeed to depression and BPD. I’ve pretended to be someone I wasn’t, acting as if everything was fine, putting a smile on my face and reassuring people I was fine when in fact I wasn’t. You look at my scars and wonder “how could she do that to herself?” I look at my scars and I think the same thing, how could I destroy my body as much as I have? How could I have done that to myself? I’m 21 and I’m covered in scars, some may fade, many will not. At times it disgusts me, looking in the mirror seeing what I have done to my body, regretting it but unable to change it. This disgust only fuels the urges and the desires to do it again, because what else do I have to loose? What difference will one more scare make?

If I could go back to when this all began I wouldn’t make the first cut! If the 13 year old me could see me know she would be shocked, like many of you who see my scars. She would be ashamed, like many of you feel I should me. You might think that your just staring, like your not conveying your thoughts or feelings but when you stare your eyes speak a thousand words, and each word sticks in my mind like superglue. Your eyes are the windows to your mind, showing your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

When you stare, when you look and stare I can see that you think I’m looking for attention, I can see that you think I should cover my arms, I can see more than you think I can. Self-harm is hard to talk about and I understand how some people may not want their children exposed to it, and so I try where possible to keep it hidden, and if it is still in sight I will never tell a child I cut myself because they wont understand it and I know its not my place to do it.

These scars belong to me, the show the battles I have faced but these battles are mine. These scars are part of me whether I like it or not. I’m working to fight self-harm, I’m working to get control of it and make it a thing of the past for good but your silent judgment, you untrusting eyes and you disgusted expression make it that much harder. Your whispers to the person next to you, your stares and your sympathy make me feel worthless, isolated and increase the disgust I feel towards myself.

For anyone who is staring at my scars, please don’t. I know they are there and they are not on show because I want you to notice them, they are simple visible because sometimes I get too warm in a jumper just like you. Don’t stare because I have a hard enough time loving myself that I don’t need others to make me feel self-conscious. Don’t stare because even though you don’t realise it, your eyes are showing your thoughts and your judgments. Don’t stare because I know they are there, I know they are part of me and I know they make me somewhat different, I don’t need to be reminded of that. Don’t stare because you can see my scars because you never know who might be hiding there’s, don’t stare because you don’t know that my scars might empower someone to seek help. I’m sorry if my scars make you uncomfortable but your staring makes me uncomfortable and I just have to deal with it or cover up to suit you.

Don’t stare because it does more damage than you realise.

Life after a suicide attempt

I have had a number of suicide attempts since I was a teenager with my most recent only being a fewmonths ago. It’s a strange thing, when you feel that taking your life is the only option. It’s a lonely feeling, feeling as if there is no one else around you who can understand what you are feeling. And it is a scaring feeling when you realize for whatever reason that your attempt has not been successful.

Why is it scary? Well depending on your method you think what could the long term damage, if any, be. I know that might not seem like something that could cross your mind but for me, particularly after the most recent attempt it was an issue that created a large amount of fear among other emotions. But it’s scary for other reasons too. Your scared of how people will react, how you will go about getting on with your life, will you try it again? When it doesn’t work your scared, how will I be able to live when I can’t think, feel, or function normally? Did I really want to die? What happens next? But sometimes too you may feel hopeful, hopeful that this attempt will get you the help and support that you so desperately desire and need.

Life after a suicide attempt isn’t easy. People are not always sure about what they can do to help you, how they can support you, and often they find themselves treating you differently although that may not be their intention. Sometimes after a suicide attempt people expect you to go back to your life, doing what you did before and pretend that nothing ever happened but it doesn’t always work that way. There are some things that people, in order to be able to help you, need to know after a suicide attempt and these things are:

Going back to everyday life is hard.
Its not easy to get up and get back into your routine after a suicide attempt after all I wasn’t planning on being here to do that so it takes extra energy, strength and support to ease yourself back into a routine. Its an overwhelming time, full of emotions, and in order to help someone you need to be patient, you cannot expect everything to just go back to “normal” and even if things do go back to “normal” that doesn’t mean you are support the person experiencing a crisis because what is normal for you may be hell for them.

You want me to recover and so do I but that doesn’t mean it is going to be simple and quick. Recovery takes time and it has its ups and downs. It is a journey that needs time; it’s a journey that requires you to take a few wrong turns in order to find the right path. It is a process and although it might not be apparent I do desperately cling to the idea that there is some hope, some possibility that I can and will recover. But most of all I need you to know that I need you to help me recognize and claim the small victories, getting out of bed on a bad day, going for a walk, just making it through the day is essential for recovering.

I care.
I know you will feel that I don’t care; you will think if you cared about me you wouldn’t leave me, am I right? But the fact is that it is because I care about you so much I couldn’t stand to watch you see me hurting. I couldn’t face being the reason for your sadness. It is because I care so much that I hope you will have a better life without me, without me as a burden, weighing you down preventing you from doing things. Anything I have ever done was not to hurt you but to stop hurting me and to prevent me from hurting you. I thought I was protecting you, solving the problem and giving you your life back. I didn’t do it because I didn’t care; in my mind this was my way of showing that I care.

It’s not your fault.
Your going to ask yourself is this because of me? Did I do something to make her want to die? To make her try and take her own life and the answer is no, this is not your fault. In order for me to recover, to cling onto that little bit of hope I have left I need you to stop blaming yourself, I need you to know that you are not the reason for my actions nor is it your responsibility to “fix” me. It was my decision, my choice, the only choice I felt I had left. It was not your fault and you need to believe me.

I need you.
There will be times when I wont want to talk to you, I will push you away and tell you I hate you but the truth is I need you because without you I wont be able to recover, I wont be able to come out the other side and I wont be able to live, to be happy, to feel positive emotions. It will be hard because I wont let you in, I will shut you out, screen your calls, slam doors in your face, and call you every name under the sun but I need you. I need you to stick by me, I need you to know that with you by my side I will be able to come out the other side because if I loose you what else do I have to live for?

Suicide is a scary thing not just for you but also for the person who attempted it. Life after a suicide attempt requires time and patience but must of all some love and care. In order to recover, and I do believe recovery is possible, we will need each other, to walk hand in hand and to come out the other side!

I’m a liar

As a child I was told that it was wrong to tell a lie, as I grew up I learned that it wasn’t so black and white- is lying always wrong? Throughout my life I have learned that when it comes to protecting the ones you love that lying might not always be wrong and I guess that’s why I did it, I guess in order to protect my family I did what I thought was right and I lied.

When I began to feel sad, isolated, and hopeless and life wasn’t worth living I would lie. I told people I was ok, I said “I’m fine” I didn’t want to let them in, I didn’t want to let them know I was dying inside and I didn’t want to hurt them or to worry them and so I lied, I said “I’m fine”

I lied day after day; I lie so I can protect those around me. To my family, my friends, and my colleagues. It’s not a conscious decision to lie, but a conscious decision to protect those around me but also to protect myself. I say it with a smile on my face when some asks, “How are you?” It protects me from opening up about what’s troubling me, it protects me from letting you in, it protects me from judgment, abandonment, and it protects me.

Sometimes I say, “I’m fine” because I know how people will react. I know some people will think the worst if they know how I really feel, I know they will jump to conclusions, worry, want to protect me and suffocate me in order to keep me safe. I appreciate it, I really do, but sometimes that can do more harm than good. Sometimes I lie because I fear people will think I’m looking for attention, think I’m making up and it will hinder our relationship. Sometimes I lie to avoid being a burden, so people can get on with their own life and not have to worry about me. And sometimes, sometimes I lie because I don’t want to admit to myself that I’m not doing ok, that I might need some extra support and that I am not able to go through this alone.

I have got to a stage in my life where I try to be honest, I try to open up and I try to avoid telling people “I’m fine” when I know and they know that I’m not. Its hard you see because I can never be too sure how people are going to react, I think to myself if a lie protects someone else from hurting then surely that is the better thing to do, is it not? Its hard because I don’t want to make a conscious decision to lie but at the same time I recognise that sometimes it is a conscious decision because I so desperately want to protect those around me. I try not to lie, I try to be honest but its hard and sometimes when the people I care most about find out I have lied it causes more damage, but at the same time being upfront and honest can cause more damage also. 

I know that no matter what the ones who care about me are always going to worry and try to help, regardless of whether or not I tell them how I am really feeling, so it begs the questions is lying only making things harder for me?

BPD- A life Sentence?

I was diagnosed with BPD when I was around 19, a condition which can only be diagnosed after turning 18 it was clear that it had been fostering within me for many years before hand, side by side with my depression. When I was diagnosed I did the usual googling to find out as much as I could and what I found out only increased my anxieties surrounding my condition! Despite this though it did help, having a name, having something to relate to, its almost like being able to account for the reasons as to why I respond to things in certain ways, it has helped me to understand myself. Although it has contributed to a greater understanding and self-awareness it has not been without its difficulties, dealing with BPD is a daily issue, one that feels like a never ending cycle, almost as if I have been sentenced to a life with BPD.

I have good days and I have bad days. I have days where I almost feel like I don’t have BPD, when I a not so sensitive to different things that happen, when I don’t fly off the handle for someone living a cup at the sink or when I don’t cry because I see something sad, its almost as if I feel “normal” I have good days where I don’t act on my impulses, where I don’t automatically reach for something to self-harm with when I’m in distress and I almost begin to feel like I’m “normal” I have days where I experience positive relationships with people rather than one minute hating them and the next minute loving them and I almost begin to feel “normal” After being diagnosed with borderline I because to feel even more out of the norm than before. Initially experiencing depression made me feel like an outcast, excluded from society but when the diagnosis of borderline was added, despite its benefits for understanding myself I truly felt like I didn’t belong within society, like I was something that dropped down from space, an alien.

It has been a continuous battle with borderline, one, which I feel I’m loosing. I so desperately want to win; I am clinging on to every little ounce of hope that I can find but there are days when I am defeated, resigned to the fact that I will live with BPD for the rest of my life. I’ve done DBT and now I’m hoping Pieta House can help with the self-harm aspect but it will never be gone, BPD almost seems like it will be apart of me for the rest of my days. Can I live with it? Can I really live with this emotion deregulation, struggling with relationships and desperately fighting not to act on impulses? It just seems that BPD is apart of me and its here to stay.

How can I know that my feelings will dissipate when they are so strong that they leave me feeling hopeless, worthless and exhausted? When will the anger fade? When will the sadness lessen? When will the anxiety calm? Nothing lasts forever right? So why do these feelings never cease to exist? When will I overcome my fear of abandonment, will I ever? How will I become accept the ever-changing nature of the world? When will I no longer fear the pain associated with friendships and relationships?

I want to say that BPD is not a life sentence, I want to say that it will not control me, or hinder me throughout my life but the uncertainty, the lack of clarity and the confusion surrounding it prevents me from seeing a future without BPD in my life.

When self-care means letting my borderline win

I’m all about looking after myself, ensuring I can keep mind in a positive space and self-care is something, which I have had to work at consistently over the past year or two. I struggle with self-care sometimes but because I am aware of how hard it can be too look after my mental health at times I have worked hard to ensure there are little reminders around the place to help me when I need it most. Despite these reminders, despite working hard to keep positive and look after myself there are some days when my borderline and depression win.

Recently I had a rough day; there was no doubt in my mind that my depression had control. I was left feeling lonely, isolated, worthless and surrounded by negative thoughts of self-harm. Its days like this that people tell you that you need to look after yourself, focus on being positive and do the things that you need to in order to help get you through the day but the things that you need to do and the things that you do can often be very different. On days like this the main aim is to get through the day without self-harming, easier said than done! In order to get through the day without self-harming things like going for walks, meeting with friends, colouring, doing athletics or writing are the things which people encourage you to do and indeed are the things I know I should do but what it doing those things cause more anxiety and more negative feelings? What do you do then?

When it is a day when you cant see the light at the end of the tunnel, when you have no energy or strength to get out of the bed and when all you want to do is surrender to the duvet and shut out the world how can I focus on self-care if, self care only contributes to these feelings. You see the mind is a funny thing and when you mix in a mental health issue it becomes so much more complicated. How cans the desire to loom after yourself make you feel worse? These are the days when BPD and depression well and truly win, they have the power and in order to try and regain some level of control I must fuel its energy.

Sometimes on days like this self-care is staying in bed, it is sleeping, doing the bare minimum in order to get through the day. Sometimes when my borderline has me well and truly hanging on through the emotional rollercoaster abandoning everything is what allows me to survive the day without self-harming. Sometimes in order to come out on top, to get ahead of the rest you have to give and take, so on the days when I know trying to actively beat my borderline and depression is only going to increase my frustration, encourage my self-harming behaviours and thoughts I will retreat to my bed, abandon everything and let my mental health issues win because in order to come out on top I have to accept that I cannot win every battle! So when self-care means staying in bed to avoid self-harming and letting my mental health issues win, that is what I will do because I know, I know that I will be the one coming out on top, fighting stronger than ever the next day!

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