It’s surprising really. I’ve been with my wife for 11 years now and have known since the start of our relationship that she was a self harmer. We’ve talked about it many times, I’ve seen her scars, I understand her compulsion to cut. I never realised that I was a self harmer too.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my mental health recently and how I behave when I’m down, and I’ve come to realise that I exhibit certain traits of self harm. I don’t cut myself or stick pins into my arms as the media would have you believe all self harmers do, but I do harm myself in other ways.
I have a compulsion to pick at imperfections on my skin. If I have a spot I can’t leave it alone. I can’t just dab some spot cream on and let it vanish without a trace. No, I need (not just want) to squeeze it until it bleeds and then when it scabs over I’ll pick it open. My spots take a long time to heal. I currently have one on the back of my left hand that was a teeny tiny bump of a blemish, barely noticeable, but now it’s a half centimeter slightly infected crater of glaring angry pink.
I will hunt down anything resembling a spot on my body and try to remove it. It’s not a vanity thing before you ask, I couldn’t really care less about my appearance (another act of self sabotage) and most of the spots I get tend to be on my upper arms and shoulders which never see the light of day. It’s not even something I feel satisfying. I gain no pleasure from doing it, it just has to be done. If I’m aware of a spot anywhere on my body I have to gouge it out.
This physical act is probably just the latest in a long line of ways I’ve self harmed. I used to use alcohol as a crutch, a way of making it easier to be me and talk to people. Social interaction is something I find difficult. I often find it hard to relate to people and engage them in the dreaded small talk. Even my best friends don’t hear from me much as I shy away from having to be the me they think I am. I don’t know exactly who I am, but I know how people expect me to be. Alcohol always made that easier and I didn’t skimp on medicating myself.
I guess the point of this post is to show that you don’t always need a blade to self harm and you don’t always realise you do it until you’ve been doing it for years. I may not have a network of scars on my wrists, but I do have a gouge mark on my hand. It’ll be gone in a week, but the compulsion will remain and I’ll find another spot soon enough.