Tag Archive | self-harm

opened heart

it dawned upon me that my memory has been deteriorating further, because my word-finding difficulty is now at its peak, and my memory recall is terrible despite having some time pass from my last currents. and then… i am reminded that everything that transpires in this long journey from nothingness to recovery has a lasting impact on this temporary body which i abuse pretty much. this was something that i might already have known, but was too defiant to recognise and acknowledge. and alas, this leaves me with some regret.

it’s been 7 years at the brink of hell, i’ve always said i’m on the threshold of giving up, and it never seems to be getting better. what gives? i don’t know. the people around me don’t know what to do. they either stay silent, or comment nonchalantly. why are you still like this?; it’s been so long!; you are like that because your faith is not strong enough (i lost a friend for that because it was totally inappropriate);  huh!!! you cut again ah!!!; what did you do this time??? (must i have done something to be not feeling well or admitted???); aiyah i think you really need a boyfriend (overwhelmingly popular comment); etc.

but at the sidelines have been my family and close friends (NO boyfriend), cheering me on in the ways they know. this however, was hard for me. most of those who loved me didn’t know how to support me, and all i could perceive was silence and isolation. the loneliness i felt all these years, imposed by myself and wrongfully felt was crushing. it took years of therapy and retrospection to realise that my family all had their different ways of expressing their love for me.

i isolated myself nevertheless, and took down the facade i worked hard to maintain once i’m alone. i could trust myself most times, but i can say right up till today, i cannot trust a single person. not even my parents. and it actually aches right in the heart to know that. it is hard to put it in words, but the psyche of a chronically depressed, a bulimic, and a chronically suicidal borderline who severely self-harms, is hard to understand (and that is already discounting the fact that i also cope with RA and fibro at the same time, complicating everything!). and even that is a terribly sore understatement. i spent the last few weeks in much agony (although i had all these 7 years to explore this) trying to accept that maybe, just maybe, i am just one who cannot be grasped with the mind and the heart. or maybe i could tell you everything, but would you be able to take it? *hmm* it was difficult to accept this as i repeatedly spoke to my psychotherapist about this. i’m a borderline. i am needy. i thrive on being understood (or seemingly being understood). even as we tried to rebuild relationships, my parents and i, as we continued family therapy, i had my separate life from them when i’m alone. i couldn’t find the courage to integrate the self which i’ve relied on for 7 years and carried the painful pasts, weaknesses and unforgivable failures, together with the fake and detestable self that is fronted by a facade which was built upon lies and lies and lies, but also successes that felt unmerited (and layers and layers of defense mechanisms). how could i ever tell you, or anyone for that matter, that when i’m with you i am not entirely genuine? how could i ever tell you that my lack of authenticity with you at times might be because say, you were talking and i was listening and nodding my head, but ‘because i felt so dysphoric all i was thinking of was cutting’.  (i’m a terrible person. i know that, and i believe that most times. and perhaps i really do deserve all of these.)

anyhow, at the end, i think the goal is that i’m alive. i don’t necessarily agree with it. but no one can say that i’m not trying. dysphoria, anxiety, triggers and chronic suicidality are a lot of factors to deal with when it come to the causes of my self-harm. and more so when my self-harm has escalated in the last 2-3 years. i’m not proud of it. no no no. but i’m here. i’m still here. although i’m merely existing, until i figure things out and recovery becomes a real possibility. i recognise that life still goes on, so in doing so i’ll make sure i’ll finish my honours degree by December. it is one of those times in these 7 years where i have to tell myself “Steph, you can’t afford to fall during this period. You just can’t.” and there were no buts. because i knew the consequences of falling during crucial periods. you fall, you end up in hospital much to the dismay of your teachers, you end up deferring your module/course/graduation (yes graduation, fuck it), you repeat the module with strangers while you see your friends on social media graduating or progressing on ie. you got left behind, and teachers all start asking what happened to you, or what happened to you, or heaven forbid, things like why are you so fat, why are you so weak etc. and the thing is, i already fell so many times during this school year, and only got out of the hospital a few weeks ago. many rules and sanctions have been placed on me to make sure i’m safe. everything was fixated on my crazies. but i think no one thought to make sure i was a tiny bit happier or pain-free?

i’ve tried. i really have. doctors in the e-rooms always ask me if i’ve gone off my meds, and i wish i have, but i have never gone off my psychiatric meds (so why the crises???). i’ve always found it an insurmountable task processing the sinking sadness of depression, BPD’s ricocheting, instability in affect and interpersonal relationships, neediness, self-mutilation and suicidality, emptiness that can never be filled, the deep ache that is so visceral, the rage, all of it even until today. yet somehow i’ve allowed some of it to take over. may there be a day, like the psychiatrists say, that my symptoms (or BPD) may be ameliorated. Dr G (not my psychotherapist) once told me that borderlines usually take 5-10 years with psychodynamic psychotherapy. i’ve hit 7. i guess 3 more years to truly see if things really get better? (then again, psychiatrists have told me i’m the worst case they’ve ever seen.)

at this point where i am ending this post, i am feeling quite sad and it feels quite visceral. but well, i’m just gonna try to smoke it off.





this is the way, walk in it

in 72 hours, i presented myself twice (and no less) to the Emergency Department, afraid of bscklash, wallowing in shame and guilt. how did things become this way?

in June, and even now in July, i struggle. i can tell you that having faith itself and claiming to have head knowledge are a world of a difference. i know that in my utter brokenness, my faith is lacking. i don’t claim as much as i can, my identity as the beloved child and daughter of God. i always remember from retreats and from conversations with friends, about how Peter walked on water. i have to learn from him, in that he trained his eyes on Jesus- he had faith and he believed! because when his eyes wandered he sank!

i have to constantly keep my gaze on God, my saviour! i may not always know why i am triggered or upset, but i guess i just have to put my faith and trust in Him? and yes, i have to learn to open the door of my heart to Him!!!

“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.”

-Ephesians 1:5-8

p.s. Haemoglobin has dropped to 8.5g/dL, but they said it wasn’t low enough for a blood transfusion. Hand surgeons said Palmaris Longus and Flexor Carpi Radialis Sheath both sustained cuts (ie damage) but they weren’t gonna repair it. On a backslab now.

what’s up

  1. hit rock bottom (in maladaptive coping methods). emailed shrink. he said i should be admitted inpatient to keep me safe.
  2. did not go to the psychiatric hospital directly.
  3. went savage on the body. bleeding couldn’t be stopped after 2 hours. wound up in the Emergency and waited 11 hours for a bed.
  4. surgery to fix the damage i’d done. lungs didn’t take in as much air as they’d hope post-surgery. spent hours with nasal prongs.
  5. medical hospital’s psychiatrists decreed to send me to the psychiatric hospital (oh when do they not?), so i was shipped off.
  6. admitted in the looney bin involuntarily.
  7. struggled in the ward (it’s a madhouse in there), but got out in 4.5 days.
  8. was so happy to be out i shopped, dined and drank.
  9. then guess what?
  10. i screwed up again.

i don’t know why it happened. i mean, it’s fine by me if i screw up but am able to fix it myself. but no. it went awry. i could never fathom the consequences that resulted from my actions. let’s just say that with one decision (and action) i made, i spent at least 5 hours trying to stop it from making my room look like bloodshed, and i from fainting.  5 hours and i am still feeling unwell, my room a warzone. but at least the toilet is fairly ok.

i’m seeing my psychiatrist in a few hours. i think it is not unwise to say that i will be put back in to suffer again. although there is a chance i might get away scot-free, really.

i am such a disaster.

still trying

at the dawn of my depression, my younger sister once told me that “when you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up”. wise words which i tried to believe in, but up was never where i went. rock bottom became my “normal”, and everything else ran on well, what else? negative.

dad reminds me that today marks 7 days out in the wild. i’ve begun to appreciate being “out in the wild” since the days of lengthy hospital stays because of my depression. he and mum got me a gift, sorta like a pat on the back, for staying out this long. the last time i was out, i didn’t make it past 4 days (i’ve had worse though). this act, together with going for confession (after months of procrastinating), begs me to rethink things. rethink life.

to be honest, it’s really much easier to slip than one could ever imagine. and for several years battling depression without so much as my faith in God, i butchered myself. hard. i only had extrinsic motivations to stay “well” and out in the wild, and never intrinsic ones. i truly believed i deserved everything i lashed upon myself. even worse, i thought it insufficient. for awhile things seemed to get “better”, and there was once i passed 500 days without a single admission. that was something i celebrated. but could you imagine? i was actually celebrating a freedom which has been given to most people so freely. it didn’t feel like living. it felt like existing. while i counted my days out in the wild, i tried my utmost to not have to reset my count on my days free from self-harm. of course i never really succeeded in that. i failed so badly keeping the body that God has so lovingly given to me, safe and intact.

i know that plenty disagree with my self-harming ways, and i’ve soured or lost friendships because of this matter. but if one could just try to not think so hard about why i do it, just understand that self-harm has allowed me to still exist. in person (and online). because otherwise, i wouldn’t. i would be long gone. it’s so effing twisted, but this is what it is.

i ask myself why the past year has been so particularly bad, especially with self-harm. i ask myself why this is happening despite my encounter with God a year ago in Treasure 3. i have no concrete answers, except that with each episode i was triggered. and triggers to me, are the usual reasons why i hurt myself, go into crisis, and/or get admitted. i previously wrote that the past one year has been bad, but right now, after 2 psychiatric admissions and whatever that transpired during this period, this past year has been even worse. it’s been such a nightmare, i don’t even dare to hope that the coming year will be any better.

recovery still eludes me, i think. but i continue to ask our loving and merciful God to give me the strength and courage to continue to trudge on. i ask Him to help me to keep my ways straight, that i don’t turn my back on Him and go savage on the self once more and again. i know i can never do this alone, and i thank God that more than ever dadmum are trying to stand by me. the girl who has been so fiercely independent since she was even just 7 years old, is now trying to let go and depend on dadmum and God. everyday i that i live and breathe, is a decision i make to continue to live this life that has been given to me. it’s a conscious decision that i have to make. and i guess that with depression, learning to want to live again and stay safe and intact, is a huge part of attempting recovery.


the will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.

-Billy Graham


when it hurts inside and out

it was a novel way to start 2013, i tell you.

i welcomed the new year with an admission initiated by my rheumy on new year’s eve. we had discovered that my haemoglobin(Hb) level had dropped significantly, so with that she wanted me to be admitted for 2 pints of packed cell transfusion. we had also discovered my iron stores were completely depleted, and so i had to receive an iron sucrose infusion. at the same time, very unfortunately, we found that i had transaminitis AGAIN. my liver enzymes were raised, although not drastically. so my DMARDs (methotrexate[MTX] and sulfasalazine[SSZ]) has to be stopped. this is happening when i am actually smelling a remission coming after the dose increase of both DMARDs in October. sigh. such disappointment time and yet again.

after i got discharged on the 2nd day of 2013, i had an appointment to see my psychiatrist. my psychiatrist, plus 2 other psychiatrists who have been on my team, decided unanimously that i should be admitted. and why is that so? because they felt that i was already tipped over the edge, and was in no condition to go back to work. it was largely also because of work and my direct supervisor- stigmatisation, expectations that could never be met, being bullied at the bottom of the  hierarchy and more. understandably, i could still work fine, but i’d be doing so in a very poor psychological state,, and would still be admitted sooner or later. so there i went into the hospital again, and i’ve been here since. it has been a real roller coaster ride though, despite this admission’s indication to be for rest. i had deteriorated very quickly in just a matter of days, but i got back on my feet again, somehow.

while this is a brand new year with a ‘good’ start for me in terms of receiving news that i am a confirmed and full-fledged staff nurse, i am resigned . resigned to the fact that i will continue to be in physical and mental pain. resigned to the fact that i am still in the process of trying to recover and that i am never really getting there yet.. resigned to the fact that this coming year will not be any more easier than the past years. resigned to the fact that i may lose my life if we are not careful enough. resigned to the fact that it will be an eternal struggle for me to stay free from self-harm.  resigned to the fact that i may have to give up my life’s only purpose- nursing- just to retain my sanity. resigned to the fact that my weight will continue to yo-yo. resigned to the fact that life’s just like that, that the world is fallen, with humans being so cruel.

my team always tells me to never give up, and frequently encourages me to keep trudging on. they celebrate with me when i do good. they sigh with me when i fall. all these, despite the fact that i have never been in remission (in both RA and my mental illnesses). i always wonder if they would ever know what it feels like to have had RA for their whole lives with excruciating pain in their joints and having to work at the same time, to be depressed, bulimic and suicidal, while bleeding and cutting most times, all at the same time.  i wonder if they know what it feels like to feel constant rejection, disapproval, hopeless, helpless, trapped, hurt and be in excruciating pain. and i wonder if they know what it feels like to be at at the end of the road, like there is no more light at the end of the tunnel, fallen so far till rock bottom, battered up so badly, and be on their knees begging for God to take their pain away, or to even take them away because it is simply unbearable.

and i wonder if they know stigmatisation, and if they themselves have been guilty of it.


it indeed is a novel way of celebrating the new year. so much pain, love, laughter, tears, questions, prayers, struggles and all. everything that i’ve said, is something to think hard about.

started a project to aid in my recovery. more of it coming soon!

Battle Scars

I am all battled up and wounded, and i have plenty of scars to show for it. Some faint, some silverish, some pinkish, some raised, some a peculiar dark red, some just plain dots, and some keloidal. I am not, very honestly, proud of them. Because although these scars are a reminder of what i’ve gone through, and how i eventually came out of the crises stronger than before, i am positive that there could’ve been better ways in doing so.

I remember holding tightly onto them- craft blades, pen knives and all- carving away at my flesh as though it was wood that i was working on. Except that what i was working on was definitely not inanimate- it was flesh fed by blood vessels and nerves.

The blade would sear through the delicate flesh while blood vessels tore apart, releasing endorphins together with a steady stream of blood. It is kinda cathartic, quite unlike anything else, even when compared to a good hard cry. And so as it continues to bleed, i can feel the tension ebb. It is unfortunate that this is a way of life for me to carry on, because i cannot simply pretend that nothing has happened, when all i have to show for are my scars.

And the last few times it happened, cutting just didn’t do it anymore. Blood-letting did, and i was more than happy to drain myself of  the extraneous blood. Yes my problems were all still there, but deep down inside i was feeling so much better having rid myself of the extraneous blood.

I’ve totally steered clear of such self-injurious behaviours due to the environment i am placed in, and its rules which i have to follow. I know it will not be easy once i’m left on my own. And i know i stand a huge chance of falling back into what i am comfortable with.

But this is my life, and only i myself will be able to decide where to go on from here.



It’s all about coping, and the inability to cope appropriately with situations and emotions. Some people, like me, have ineffective coping mechanisms. We turn to different methods, not necessarily right ones, to cope with the situtations we are in, and the emotions that we are overwhelmed with. We may not think that it is wrong, because after all, we are just trying to cope just so that we can continue living. But they are detrimental to our health, and they affect the people around us who care for us.

It’s the intense feelings, whether it’s sadness, anger, frustration, guilt or hatred, that we’re trying to escape from. We self-harm as a means to seek reprieve from such intense feelings. We might hesitate in performing the harmful act, but we still continue with it anyway because we know we’ll find relief after that. It’s the relief and the reprieve that keeps us going back to it. Because we know no other way, we keep going back to the method that lets us cope in a way we deem effective.

Bulimics engage in compensatory behaviors like purging, overexercising and abusing laxatives. They engage in such behaviors because of the intense fear of getting fat. Because of the intense guilt and shame that eats them away. It can be very cathartic- bingeing so much and having to elicit the gag reflex for everything to come up the way it went down. The feelings of relief is indescribable, but guilt also overwhelms us after that. We know purging fucks up our esophagus and our gag reflex. We hate it, as unbelievable as it may sound. But we keep going back to it as it gives us the relief that we seek. Ineffective coping? Yesiree.

People who self-poison don’t usually do it with suicidal intention. We do it because we are in such intense emotional distress and pain, we believe that engaging in such self-harm acts gives us a form of escape from so much pain. We’d rather experience the physical pain than the emotional pain. It also serves to distract us from the inner turmoil that we are in. People around us are quick to pass judgements- how rash and impulsive we are, how stupid we are, how we don’t value our lives. But they will never be able to understand the predicament that we are in- that the emotional distress we are in is so great that we can do something so harmful just to take that away.

People who cut themselves also do so because they are hurting. They are in emotional distress. They may not know how to express themselves. Or they may just want to take it away. They may be so numbed, they can’t feel any emotions. So they cut. They cut till they bleed. They cut so that they can feel the physical pain. So that they can feel again. Or so they won’t hurt so much on the inside.

People look at us and think we are crazy. They think we just want attention. They think we are irrational. But stop and think. People do things, or engage in behaviors that make sense to them. Right? People who self-harm engage in such harmful behaviours because it makes sense to them- they know no other way to cope.

If you’d ask me why i have been harming myself, i’d tell you very simply that i was trying to get relief from the emotional pain that i was in. That i was trying to escape from the feelings of disgust. That most of all, what i wanted was control- control over my feelings, control over my life in otherwise chaotic situations. It’s ineffective coping, but at least i am coping. And although it may seem absurd, but they make sense to me too.

p.s. Self-harm, its methods and its reasons, were selectively and briefly explained here in my own warped opinion. There is a lot of information on the net. So do look it up if you’d like to find out more.