Talking about self harm

I don't advocate self harm, certainly not anorexia nervosa, bulimia and other mental health issues that can cause death. These states of mind need expert help and intervention. I'm not talking about addictions either.

I'm talking about those of us who cannot cope with extreme emotional pain and so we cause ourselves physical pain because it is easier to cope with.

I seem to be unusual because I feel deeply shamed of any visible marks and go to extreme lengths to cover the marks until they have healed. Only once have I sent a photograph of blood flowing, and that was after I suffered a miscarriage and the father would not comfort me.

I've self harmed since I suffered a life changing illness, described earlier in this blog, and realised I would no longer be captain of the team, or win races at highly competitive levels. I would throw my body against brick walls. This was my first style of self harm. My back and limbs would be covered in bruises. This satisfied me for a long time.

When my mother started sexually abusing me, I began trapping certain parts of my body in hair grips. My nipples, parts of my vulva, my ear lobes. I couldn't tell anyone. No one has ever known.

Then in the young adult world of college and work, when kissing at end of term parties, and Christmas 'do's began, and I was a trophy kiss for all the wrong reasons, I began to drink carelessly. As we'd all get up to return to class, I'd tip every dreg from my friends glasses into mine. Beers, whiskies, wines, cider, brandy etc and drink it down without anyone noticing. By the time I was 18, I had a stomach ulcer.

My self harming stopped for a few years, due to the ulcer. It had scared me. Then when I was working with recovering addicts in the outer LA area in California, it started in a new way. Most of the people in my care loved me because I loved them, and gave them respect and good therapy. There were, however, some people there with severe personality disorders who would blurt out cruel and nasty remarks. I took my first overdose there. Not to kill me but to give myself 36 hours of nothing. I just slipped into a deep sleep, from which I could not be stirred. I awakened, realising nothing was different except some people realised I had feelings.

Not wanting to be considered suicidal, from then on I would cut parts of my body. My stomach, my thighs anywhere that could be covered by shorts/jeans and a T shirt. It wasn't frequent. But it was going on.

More recently I snip folds of my skin with scissors. It's extremely painful but the flow of blood is rewarding. It takes my emotional pain and puts it in the background.

My most recent episode, caused by a man, was an overdosing of my medicine and alcohol. However before I passed out, I fell against the wall and gave myself blunt trauma. A friend chose to pop in that evening, and found me. So I wound up in hospital, was diagnosed with walking pneumonia and spent some hours on a ventilator and then nebulised. Most of it is a blur. I had sent an email to two good friends, because I had a lot to explain about someone who has intruded in my life on their terms only. Like I'm a play thing. And one of my publishers had made a commitment to me in writing, and then denied it all.

By Chrisssie Morris Brady

I've read poetry since I was nine and have written creatively since I was fourteen (probably long before that). After writing book reviews and social comment, I decided I wanted to write poetry. I have no formal training, but I surround myself with poets and their writing. I am honing my craft.
I have two published collections which I don't feel good about, but have been published by and other publications. I live on the south coast of England with my daughter. I am seriously ill.

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