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Tuesday, Jul. 06, 2004 - 4:57 a.m.

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WARNING!!!! if you know me personally, you may read my diary, but if you do, you take the chance of hearing things you don't want to know, misunderstanding what I've written and being hurt by it. If you are unsure if it is ok to read, save yourself and me the grief and heartache, and ask first!!! Please note that this is a DIARY, ie my subjective feelings, hearsay, suppositions, and outpourings of ranting of the moment. It does not represent objective news, the whole of what I think of a topic or someone, or even a thought-out representation of any of the above. Keep that in mind. Thanks. * Here is a Diary Etiquette Read Me.

An Excellent Webpage on Self-Injury

Second entry tonight.

I was just reading the diary of the Lovely Sherilyn and she has a link to this excellent page on SI otherwise known as "self-injury".

Definitely worth reading.

Their definition of self-injury is any self-inflicted physical harm that leaves a mark lasting more than a couple of hours, not in the intention of suicide, nor getting ornamentation such as a tattoo, nor for sexual gratification.

For release of unbearable "psychyphysiological arousal".... and apparently it works. It doesn't say why, but they say that it causes the person to do it again when overwhelmed, since it DOES replace the anxiety, stress, panic, pain etc with a calm dealable feeling. Who knows why. Perhaps release by the body of natural hormones, whatever, that help the body deal with physical pain, and in turn those calm the emotional pain?

It says that almost all of those who self-injure were invalidated as children on a regular basis. hmmm. I can relate.

By their definition, I guess I do this, or have in the past. It points out that the self-injury is not to influence other people, not to annoy, anger, scare or whatever, other people, but to give internal relief to the person doing it. I can totally relate.

I have at times scared people by hitting surfaces with my hands (table, wall, shower tiles), or my head with my wrists. Usually when stuck in a totally heavy emotional situation where there was no "out"... where I was ordered, or told to stay where I was ("Don't you walk out on me now!!" for instance), where I wasn't in any way in control of the situation (usually someone had told me really bad news for a relationship... ie they just came back from sleeping with their best friend, they were standing up our date for someone else, they were leaving me for someone else, they were staying with me but were in love with someone else, they were angry with something i did and planned to make a scene by telling someone else in my presence...) and where if I said anything it wouldn't help.

I have been accused of being violent. The funny thing is that usually when I end up doing that it is when I feel trapped because I have rejected as bad everything else: yelling, saying the angry things I thought, throwing things, breaking things. Everything external that would cause destruction I have stopped my impulses from doing. So the only thing I allow to react is my body onto my body. Or my body onto a surface that will not break, but my body will absorb the impact. Ie it will cause pain only to what is mine... myself. Not even an object belonging to me.

So it surprises me that this total control of myself... control of any impulses to say hurtful things, to shout or break things, to throw things, even to drink or do drugs or other destructive things, is seen as lack of control... seen as a harbringer of violence to come, whereas it is the opposite. It is self-hurt in order not to hurt anything else. It is the supreme act of restraint in the environment and towards other people.

And I would prefer to do it in private. And do if I can, if there is time or space. It is not to show anyone anything. It is because it is overwhelming, the feelings, the anger, the sadness, the shame, the self-pity, whatever.

Here is a quote from that excellent page:

* People who deliberately harm themselves are no more psychotic than people who drown their sorrows in a bottle of vodka are. It's a coping mechanism, just not one that's as understandable to most people and as accepted by society as alcoholism, drug abuse, overeating, anorexia, bulimia, workaholism, smoking cigarettes, and other forms of problem avoidance are.
And another quote:
Studies have suggested that when people who self-injure get emotionally overwhelmed, an act of self-harm brings their levels of psycho-physiological tension and arousal back to a bearable baseline level almost immediately. In other words, they feel a strong uncomfortable emotion, don't know how to handle it, and know that hurting themselves will reduce the emotional discomfort extremely quickly. They may still feel bad (or not), but they don't have that panicky jittery trapped feeling; it's a calm bad feeling.
And you see, the cool thing is that unlike vodka, or smoking, overeating or drug abuse, it brings you down to a bearable baseline level almost immediately, and you are not stoned, nor drunk. You are not addicted to a drug or overweight. You are not putting something carcinogenic into your body, and you are unlikely to go out and run someone over while you are drunk. You are unlikely to get liver damage or hold up someone to get your dose of heroin. You are unlikely to catch an STD ("fuck your pain away")...

Nope. It is the remedy of choice of the supercontrolled in a weird kind of way. And it works. But it is still shameful and scary. And I try to be ok in not ok situations without hitting something with my hands. I need my hands. I love my hands. They are my livelihood and my pleasure in life. And bruises on my temple are not good.

Fortunately I don't cut and I don't burn myself. I don't do anything that could end me up in emergency. I can count on my two hands the # of times I have reacted like this in 40 years. So that is not so many. Mostly in really bad situations with people I really cared about.

Anyways, be nice to people who are overwhelmed. Read the page. It is really informative and good. A hug and a listening ear helps the most perhaps. Validation that you ARE in a situation that is crazy-making (as my therapist called it), a situation where you are normal to feel pain and anger and fear. Yes, that is what it takes. And then a hug and a cry.

Take care,

Love, me, Wenchie.

oh yes, I wanted to put a couple of links about the research that shows that social rejection pain is felt as pain, ie the same areas of the brain tell you "pain!!" when you have social rejection or loss as when you have physical injury pain... indeed when you say "I hurt" or "I have a broken heart" or "I felt kicked in the stomach when she said that"... well, it is actually physiologically true. Your brain actually cannot tell the difference.

Guardian Unlimited How scientists proved that the pain of rejection is all too real

Rejection Hurts So Bad at Discover Health News.

Finally a little wee bit off topic, you can see where your brain (Cindy's actually!) lights up on a PET scan when you are sad, right here at I don't know who writes this stuff but they are quite amusing and very informally chatty. Take a brain tour today.

That's all. 6:21 am is night night time for wenchie. (who by the way is feeling neither sad, nor self-injurious)

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previous meanderings - future past

Goodbye Michael. May your next life be kinder to you. - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
Taking Care of Your Cows - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
Saint Joseph robs the cradle and eats spaghetti - Sunday, Jun. 14, 2009
sticky notes and broken irises - Friday, Jun. 12, 2009
The FOODCOMMANDER - Monday, Jun. 08, 2009


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