Posts Tagged ‘self harm’

Self Harm?

February 13, 2010

I have never self-injured, not in the conventional sense anyway. I have never dragged a razor across my skin. I have never burnt myself with cigarettes. I have, however, harmed myself in ways not recognised medically as self harm. Ways that do not require tools. I have starved myself to the brink of passing out. I deprived my body of the nutrients it required to stay alive. I would psychologically self harm in every way possible. I remember sitting in front of the mirror hurling obscenities at myself. I’ll never get those lost hours back. I should have appreciated what I had while I had it. That’s one of my biggest regrets: that I had been given a gift and I have wasted it.

Dug This Up

February 11, 2010

(from my last admission in my baby black notebook. Don’t expect coherence.)

Extract from Hospital Diary

In hospital. Feels like a prison. The staff do their best but with very limited resources. They work long shifts: twelve hours. This is why I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Much of what happens is beyond their control. Everything, it seems, is in the hands of the bean counters.

When I was in hospital a few years ago I was on a brand new, plush ward. They even had duvets. This was a state of the art ward. A model on which all other wards should be based. They spent millions of pounds on this ward only to close it down a couple of years later. That leaves two acute psychiatric ward to cover an entire city and its surrounding areas.

This feels punitive: something they are prone to do to people even suspected of self harming. Yet they never seem to adopt this attitude to those who harm others. It seems that people who harm others are feared and respected by the staff and patients alike. Those who harm themselves are despised and rejected. They are accused of being manipulative attention seekers. These labels never seem to be attached to those who harm others. Funny that because there’s nothing more ‘manipulative and attention seeking’ than punching someone in the mouth. So, as always, the bullies emerge triumphant.

And in the long term pampering those who harm others doesn’t just make life difficult for their fellow patients; it also makes life difficult for the staff because it encourages others to emulate them, elbowing their way to the front, at the expense of other less volatile but more vulnerable patients. And one day they may turn on the staff themselves.

The system is set up to reward bullying just as it is school and in other institutions. The timid are given little time or acknowledged. Just like the outside world. And my anger is not directed at the staff. They are foot soldiers. It is the Generals who issue the orders.

Voices II

December 5, 2008



I awake in the middle of the night, my heart pounding, my skin damp and I am cold, so cold. I did not know, until now, how much they hated us. I did not know (or maybe I did but just could not bring myself to acknowledge it) how much they fear us. We are dangerous, you see. We hurt people. It must be true because the media says it is. The truth is that, if I thought I were about to harm others, I would stop myself by harming myself. I read the headlines churned out by the tabloid press day after day and I am afraid. It is an indescribable fear, one that threatens to choke the very breath out of me.

They provide fuel to the voices deep with me that tell me that I am grotesque, fat, an abomination, a witch. That all manner of pain should be inflicted upon me, that I am evil, that I should be burnt at the stake. Some of these voices filter through the shield that the medication provides, a little like missiles penetrating the Reagan/Bush Starwars project. They sneak in like lilliputian secret agents. They infiltrate my brain despite every effort I have made to keep them out. And I hate them. I would kill them stone dead if I could.

The use of medication is a scattergun approach. They subdue the majority of these unwanted alien voices but the more devious, those that appear with beautiful and seductive words on their lips (I owe a debt to Primo Levi for that) slip through.  And I hate to anthropomorphize these voices but I can think of no other way to convey their power to a wider audience. They can be overwhelmingly persuasive. So I throw open the door and admit them.

At first those voices – those undercover agents that have infiltrated my mind – are quiet, considerate houseguests but soon benevolence morphs into belligerence and they bleed into what is left of my mind and my inner world is now occupied territory and the cycle repeats itself.  And I am afraid.  I am so afraid.

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