*Disclaimer* I am not writing this blog for myself- I don’t need to vent, I don’t need to express emotions and I don’t need to whine about some boy- writing these things triggers me and brings back PTSD symptoms- it doesn’t benefit me at all other than letting me help other survivors relate to someone and bring awareness to those who can’t relate. I am writing this blog solely to help others and raise awareness about mental health.
Look at these two images. Really look for a few seconds- what’s the difference between the two people in them?
The Left: someone laying down on the floor, perhaps from exhaustion from an intense workout.
The Right: someone laying down on the floor, perhaps in emotional pain and turmoil from a trigger or life-event, who knows.
Again, what’s the difference?
The person on the right can change the emotional pain into physical pain if she or he wanted to- they can become the left person. The pain can be transduced, just like energy. Pain can be converted from emotional to physical. Physical pain can take many forms, it just so happens to be that the person above chose to make working out his or her form of pain.
I don’t condone self-harm. I’m not going to lie though, when you have a personality disorder like mine, borderline personality disorder, (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml) marked by mood swings, the world being black and white, impulsive actions, angst and self-harm, or other disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, or bipolar, it’s hard to NOT hurt yourself. Again, I don’t condone self-harm, but for those of you who don’t understand why people like us struggle with it, I want to explain.
I started cutting in middle school. I starved myself in middle school. These are abnormal behaviors for a young child, but they’re signs that something else is going on.
Self-harm is one of our only ways to release the pent up emotions and turmoil that exist within us. It’s as if self-harm, aka physical pain, can take away the painful emotions. It’s a way of transducing emotional pain into physical pain. Pain is pain and it’s hella easier to cope with physical pain than with emotional pain.
The only years in my life that I did not struggle with self-harm were the years that I ran track and cross country. I didn’t even know at the time, but running was my way of self-harm in a SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE way.
Let me repeat that. Running, working out, being “healthy,” can be self-harm. I used to beat my body up every day, running further and faster. I never knew why I had this drive in me to keep going as hard as I could every day. I pushed harder than other people. I ignored my coaches and ran further than I was supposed to. If I had a bad day, my times would be much faster per mile. My first college boyfriend was on my team and we had a messy breakup so I found the biggest hills that I knew of and ran up and down them until I had nothing left. I screamed and ran and tried to leave the pain that I felt behind.
I was commended on my actions in athletics. People praised me for pushing myself, but they didn’t realize that they were just condoning self-harm.
Before I found running, I struggled with cutting myself. When I ran, I did not struggle with that at all because my body took a beating of another kind every day. When I got permanently injured from running, I began to struggle with cutting again.
Self-harm is self-harm. It’s odd that one can be praised for running until their body drops but chastised for cutting oneself.
Things are not always as they appear.
Next time you see someone pushing themselves on a workout, remember, it might not be healthy- they might be in pain and just trying to come to terms with the emotions behind that.
Next time you see someone who has cut themselves, just imagine that to them, the cutting was the same as a workout- a way to cope with intense and painful emotions.
To us, cutting and working out aren’t so different.
To the world, we’re freaks for self-harm but to that same world, others are heroes for working out insanely.
Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons does not make it right.
Don’t judge others for the type of pain that they chose to help them cope with their lives.
Reduce the stigma.