Self-Harm And Destructive Thought Patterns

I have a terrible habit of feeling overwhelmed.

I would go as far as saying I struggle with these feelings on a daily basis, although very mildly in comparison to the effect it used to have on me. When I look at experts within my field, those I look up to, I can’t help that inner panic rise like bile, as I wonder ‘How on Earth can I achieve even a fraction of what they have? It’s too hard! I’m not good enough!’ I deal with these intrusive thoughts through many different ways including meditation and my writing. I can also hand on heart say that if it wasn’t for the encouragement from those around me, if it wasn’t for the sheer blind belief and faith that people have in me, I may well not be here telling my story.

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Being my own worst enemy is something I have a lot of experience with, to the point that I sabotaged myself and my happiness right up until my mid-20s. It was like I didn’t feel I deserved happiness because I was ‘such a bad person’. I disliked myself so intensely and the distress of my thoughts and feelings became so unmanageable, that at 15 I resorted to self-harming. It is difficult to explain to anyone why this made me feel better. I’d find it hard to understand myself, were it not for the memories of the almost euphoric relief of feeling pain physically instead of mentally, even if only for a short time.

I was externalising the pain of the fragmented person I felt inside.

Even when I recovered from the self-harming at around 20, I continued to completely destroy multiple relationships (I suppose another form of self-harm looking back). I felt that at some point everyone in my life would realise I was a fraud, they would see that I was not worthy of love, and that they would then leave. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, as inevitably and eventually the testing, provoking and pushing would drive away those I cared about. I would then congratulate myself on being right!

The danger is that the more you prove yourself right, the more you believe in the lie; that you are worthless. It can become a cycle ending in the worst possible way.

I am a very different person now and through the blog I have shared/will be sharing many of the techniques I learned and used to help me break this destructive pattern. But the anxiety still rears its ugly head from time to time in the form of renumeration, or what I call OCD of the mind. Most people who have a worrying feeling or an intrusive thought, their brain instinctively knows if it isn’t real and it’s dismissed almost as quickly as it arrived. Some very lucky people don’t even know that they’re doing this, hence the phrase ‘doubt means don’t’; if you’re hesitating over something enough to be worried about it, there must be a reason.

But like someone who suffers from OCD has to check the door over and over because even though they know deep down it’s locked, there’s still that possibility that it isn’t, intrusive thoughts have the possibility of being true, or so my anxious mind tells me. And so knowing deep down that that isn’t the case does little to placate the monster in my head that wants to go over and over the thought until every eventuality has been exhausted. Having to learn the difference between my own mind and that of the anxious one, is a skill I’m continuously developing. Doubt doesn’t always mean don’t and thoughts don’t equal the truth.

Do I regret my past struggles?

Absolutely not, although I do wish I hadn’t put the people that love me through so much heart-ache as they watched me crumble in front of their eyes. Scars only remind me how far I’ve come. Those people who remained in my life even through the dark times have become my family. I know that I have the ability and strength to overcome things, because I already have. And maybe, just maybe, my experiences can help others realise that there is light at the other end of the tunnel, that they’re  not alone. That it can be different.

Further reading:

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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29 thoughts on “Self-Harm And Destructive Thought Patterns

  1. Wow, Dani… An incredibly powerful, personal, and moving blog. I deal with depression and what some may call Provider PTSD or Compassion Fatigue after 21 years of Air Force Chaplaincy work. This hit close to home as I remembered people I have counseled and some of my own story.

    Thanks for sharing your story! I too long for the day when Mental Health issues are no longer closeted or hidden. Shoot, it took me 20 years to finally reach out to the Mental Health Providers whom I had been sending people to for years!

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Dani I think you are incredibly brave to share your past struggles with us on a daily basis. Keep up the good work :), you seem to have learned from past mistakes and self destructing behavior and that will only make you stronger as you get older. All of us have a past and many of us try to overlook it but it is what makes us who we are. You own yours and I commend you for it, because you learned from it! Very good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wouldn’t the self-harm have been some form of punishment? You hurt yourself to run from one pain to another and in that form, punish yourself for feeling emotionally hurt? Or happy..
    I’m just trying to relate.. I’m not much for inflicting pain onto myself, nature does that enough. ;'(
    Also, I’m afraid of pain. In any form.

    I find it admirable that you have the strength to talk about this and be so open about your past. It takes a lot of effort to come out in the open with it. 🙂

    Like

    • The outer pain I inflicted was much less than the inner pain at the time. I needed a strong distraction from what I was feeling. Hard to relate to who I was back then as now I never have that desire to hurt myself. I love myself too much hehe x

      Liked by 1 person

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  12. From what I have read so far, Dani is an incredibly strong person who is intelligent, multi-talented, full of courage and so much better than she sees herself. I know exactly how these self-doubts feel, having suffered from them all my life. I wish I had her strength and talent to use the past to forge a better future. This blog should be shared by the world and I hope other people who know how to get a large audience to take notice of such blogs as this manage to stumble across it and bring it to the attention of the world. Many people could certainly do with the wisdom of Dani’s reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

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