Tag Archives: therapy

My journey for peace

When I was in the seventh grade I read a book that was about a young girl who had entered rehab for self injury. I had never encountered self injury before, but long story short my young, impressionable, anxiety ridden little mind thought it sounded like a good way to cope. Thus began my messy, painful, brilliant journey for peace inside a hurricane of a mind. As I grew things only got worse. I can remember countless nights of feeling like the sky was falling, my pillowcase soaked with salty tears. Self injury seemed like the only way out. The only way to make my frantic mind quiet. To stop it from running in circles, from replaying every single thing that could go wrong. To be quite honest I didn’t see the harm in it, it was an immediate release and it made me feel better. I wasn’t trying to kill myself so I remember thinking that it didn’t “count.” I thought I could stop. I would go months without it, but as soon as something bad happened the cycle would repeat itself.  This went on for five years. When I was in the twelfth grade a friend I had confided in was having a hard time. She said she would see someone if I did, and because she held my heart in her hands, I reluctantly agreed. I hated seeing a counsellor,  I thought I could do it on my own, I thought because I came from a good home that I didn’t have a right to feel the way I did. I resisted her help, I wanted to sit in my sadness and be left alone, until one day she said to me, “you’re going to be okay you know. It’s just getting through right now that’s the hard part.” Something about that little sentence made a world of difference to me. It didn’t fix me, I continued to have bad days and relapses. But I always kept that tender moment in my back pocket. Because the sun will always come up tomorrow, and nothing you are feeling now will last forever even if it feels like the sky is falling and you are feeling every human emotion all at once. I have now gone six months without self harming. I have scars now, and on bad days they serve as reminders of every time I thought my soul would crawl it’s way out of my body. But I know those days are temporary. On good days I embrace them, they are a part of my story now, a reminder of where I’ve been and how much I have overcome. A reminder that my body healed itself every time I tried to destroy it. I am still on my own journey for peace. Parts of me still feel broken and old feelings slip through the backdoor when I’m not looking, but I’m better than I was.

I hope you remember that even on days that you do not feel like it, you are such a beautiful human being. Take a deep breath and remember that you are capable of love and compassion and empathy and how amazing that is. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself even if it’s not true quite yet. Don’t resist help, embrace it, ask for it, there is no shame in that. You will be okay. There are a million other human beings rooting for you if you look for them.

I wish every one of you luck and love on your journey to find your peace.

You DESERVE recovery!

I remember when it started. Most people probably do. I was 16 and my dad was lecturing me again. I remember thinking I just couldn’t take this long conversation anymore, but I felt trapped. I couldn’t leave. I felt like I couldn’t even breathe. I couldn’t speak. All I knew was I needed out, but I was stuck there.
Unfortunately, my knowledge of self harm was that it was just “cutting.” I had no idea that it could manifest in any kind of harm that one does to him or herself intentionally.
As the years progressed, my mental health deteriorated. It first it was just depression, then anxiety joined the party. Then I had Bipolar II, then Bipolar I. Then, they wanted to tell me I had Schizoaffective Disorder. They missed a crucial diagnosing factor, though, because I lived in denial about my self harm for many years. When asked, I always answered no and I thought I was telling the truth. I justified it as “well I’m just doing what I have to do to get by.” And that was true – I later learned to be compassionate and look at it as a coping mechanism for the things I had no other way of managing.
Eventually it became hard to ignore. At that point I had no choice but to admit to myself that this was self harm and incredibly dangerous. As I came to terms myself and shared with my trusted mental health professionals, I finally received a correct diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. After going through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, my self harm stopped and I learned better coping techniques and I now no longer meet the criteria of BPD.
I share my story for two reasons: “cutting” gets most of the press and many people may not be aware that self harm can take many many forms. The second reason is that I want to share hope. Recovery is possible and you can learn new coping mechanisms that are more healthy than self harm. But be kind to yourself – don’t beat yourself up, because you are doing the best you can with the skills you have. All you have to do is learn new skills. It is a challenging journey, but you are worth it. You deserve recovery. It’s not too late, and you’re never too far.

Will it? Will it always be this way?

Will it? Will it always be this way?

This is what I can tell you.

I started to self harm when I was in high school. It was nothing too extreme, just some carvings on my ankles, just far enough down that the ankle socks for my cheerleading uniform wouldn’t reveal them. Yes, I was a cheerleader. In high school, people think being a cheerleader means you are so happy and have it all. Not true. I was depressed, and I didn’t know why. I wouldn’t know why until I was 26 and diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.

In 1998, I began college. Instead of just carvings on my ankles, I began a whole new array of other forms of self harm. There was the typical binge drinking. It may not seem like self harm, and to some it isn’t. To some, it really is about having fun, trying to fit in, and being rebellious. For me, it was to try and get rid of all the dark, depressing, self loathing and self hatred filled thoughts and try to find either a place that would make me happy and carefree, or would block out all those thoughts all together by just blacking out.

Binge drinking was just one, anorexia and bulimia was another. Many may think, why would an eating disorder be considered self harm? Well, if you are anorexic, you are purposely depriving yourself food and nutrients that your body needs to survive, thereby destroying all your internal organs in the process. The same holds true for bulimia, except with bulimia, you let yourself eat, however, you destroy your body and it’s organs while trying to get it all out, whether it’s through vomiting or laxatives. The destruction you do to your body inside is not always just temporary. Just because it doesn’t leave scars you can visibly see on the outside doesn’t mean that your metabolism isn’t forever damaged, or the enamel on the backs of your teeth is completely eroded, your liver and kidneys may have damage, you may have osteoporosis because of the lack of nutrients to your bones. And lastly, your heart. Eating disorders can cause a lot of damage to your heart. Heart disease runs in my family. My uncle actually passed away in his twenties during an open heart surgery. When I was younger, I had a heart murmur and it was closely monitored because of my uncle. By the time I was a teenager, I had outgrown it, but, after years of eating disorder behavior and self harm, that murmur came back.

The eating disorders and binge drinking were part of college life, but then I began self harming by using any sort of sharp objects and slashing cuts all over the tops of my arms, my legs, and my wrists. Despite all that, I did graduate college WITH honors, and with TWO bachelors degrees, a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a B.S. in Paralegal Studies. I landed my very first “professional” job in a law office that included health insurance benefits, so I began to see a professional psychotherapist who specialized in eating disorders. I worked through those and they laid pretty dormant starting in 2005. The cutting however, did not stop. When I would get so angry or upset and couldn’t figure out any other way to let out all the pain, I would cut. At the time, my then boyfriend (who then became husband and exhusband) had a boat and so spending lots of time with friends on the boat during the really hot spring and summer months was tradition. Wearing pants and/or long sleeves to cover the cuts or the scars became so embarassing, but having anyone see the cuts or scars would have been much worse, and we all know that if you are out in the sun with fresh scars, the scars don’t tan or burn but,remain white, which draws even more attention to them.

How did I stop? How did I realize it would not last forever?

I drove myself to the hospital because I was suicidal, admitted myself to the psych facility, and was diagnosed with bipolar II. I remained there about 14 days where I was then released to an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Therapy Program) where you went every day from 9am -3pm, Monday through Friday; had another hospitalization a few weeks after that; was released back to the program, and then completed the program, almost 7 months later from the date I drove myself to the hospital because I was suicidal.

That program, along with my family and friends that stood by me through that process, is the reason I knew it was not going to be like that forever. In that program, I met so many amazing people in so many different circumstances and periods of their lives. We all started as a group of strangers but we got to know each other and believed in each other; I mean, literally, we were put into a room with a group of people of all ages that had never met before and no mutual acquaintances. We all had this enormous emotional and mental hurdle that we didn’t know how to get past, and absolutely didn’t believe we had the strength to get through it ourselves, but one by one, we watched each other as we conquered our hurdles. And as I watched each person conquer theirs, I began to slowly believe in myself. I hadn’t really, truly believed in myself in a very, very long time, so I had almost forgotten what it felt like, but everyone else believed in me.

The last three months of the program I had dropped down to half days and to only 3 days a week because I had started law school in the evenings. Yes, I had gotten myself back to a point where I was feeling confident enough that I was attending one of the most competitive types of schools. Law school, especially the first year, is known for its competitiveness. On my last day at the program, they held a “graduation ceremony” for me and they allowed my family members to come. After listening to the group members and staff talk about my journey, my dad stood up and thanked them all for bringing him his “real” Christi back.

After that, I wanted to help as many people as a I could because I did not want anyone else to feel alone, or feel like no one else felt the way they did, and I wanted to help as many people who couldn’t afford the amazing treatment I was so fortunate to receive because of my insurance benefits through my employer. I scoured the Internet for support groups and info and found so very little, but I did find one that caught my eye and changed the years to follow.

Ask A Bipolar is a website where people who have questions because they themselves have the illness and want to know more or may not have the illness but want to be more helpful to friends and loved ones but are too afraid to ask, so they submit their questions and those questions are answered by one out of the team of authors and it is posted on the website. What makes this site so unique? All of the authors have bipolar disorder! This way, you are getting an answer from someone who truly understands it or has been through it themselves. I found the website and followed it for a bit to see what it was all about. After a few weeks, they posted that they were looking for some new authors. On a whim, I took a stab and submitted my application.

After a few months of being part of the Ask A Bipolar team, I was asked to become partners with the founder. I had also started blogging for International Bipolar Foundation, I was published in their book Healthy Living With Bipolar Disorder, and Ask A Bipolar put out at book. While I loved writing for both websites, they both had specific formats. Ask A Bipolar was question/answer and International Bipolar was once a month. I wanted to do more to help other and get my story out there, so, I created my own website. When I said before that it wouldn’t always be like this, I meant it.

I called my blog Musings of a Bipolar Hot Mess. What I thought would be about 100 or so friends, family, and probably Ask A Bipolar followers, turned into a whole lot more! One day I checked the page and it was at 3,000 and I was dumbfounded. Next I know, it’s at 7,000, then 10,000. Then, Psychcentral.com had nominated me as a Mental Health Hero 2013, WEGO nominations, and the Facebook page is 16,400+.

Do I still have urges to self harm? Do I slip up? Have I been completely 100% self harm free in all that time? The answers: Yes I still get urges, yes I do slip up, no I have not been 100% completely self harm free in all that time. Have I been more self harm free than I have been self harming? YES! ABSOLUTELY!!! I slip up maybe once a year, if that. But, now I have coping tools, I have an entire community of people who not only look to ME for advice, but I also look to THEM for advice, comfort, and support as well. I have learned that my family loves me and cares so much about me and they help me.

Is it always going to be like this? NO!! BUT, YOU have to be the one who takes the first step toward the change. YOU have to be the one who takes the first step to say NO the next time you get the urge. And then, it won’t always be like this.

Stop hiding. Let the light find you…you are beautiful.

It is interesting, is it not, the ability we humans have to hide? Like the world’s best chameleons – we can blend not just our looks but our very personalities to better fit in the world around us. But unlike the chameleon, the effect of these changes is not fluid. Our brains are not infinitely flexible. Close, perhaps, but they do have hard limits. Eventually, the price of constant blending is the loss of the background image – and we have need of a base for our selves.

While self-harm does not always stem from abuse, I would say that many of us who were subjected to long-term trauma end up with a desire for self harm. Why not? If those we depended on for everything thought we should be hurt, how can we have any other identity? Through drugs, through eating disorders, through any and every way we can indirectly or directly cause ourselves pain, we find what we are most used to. In a twisted way, what brings us “comfort” and a “sense of home” is pain and hurt.  And there is nothing quite like taking command of the pain, is there? When you can control it, deliver it, see it, feel it, numb it, and wear it – it can no longer be hidden. It is the chameleon saying “I HAVE MY OWN SKIN, YOU CAN SEE ME.” Even if you cover it up with sleeves and scarves and bandages, the mirror screams it. “YOU CAN SEE ME.”

How do I know this? I lived it. Live it. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Self-injury is not something that “just goes away”. It can’t be “positive thought” out. Telling someone who has grown used to and dependent on pain to “just stop” is as useless as spitting on a forest fire. And for those of us struggling to get better, it is maddening to have so many misunderstand. We don’t do it for attention. We are shamed by what we do. Most of us want to stop – and even if you don’t now, you will. I promise. At some point you will come to realize you don’t live in a vaccuum. No matter how much you might not want to believe it, there are people who care about you, who don’t want you hurt or dead, and you do make a difference in the world for the better. Like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, each one of us has some effect for good on this planet, and your actions directly affect others. So – you will come to a point when you say, “I have to stop.”
The good news. You can.

It won’t be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. The truth is, if you have done it for a long time, it might take you a long time to stop. It’s also true the desire never completely leaves you. But you CAN STOP. And you need to. We need you. The world needs you. It is just that simple. The world needs people who have hurt and understand that hurting is not the answer.

Chances are you will need help. For most, if not all of us, that means professional help. Good therapy is not hocus pocus. It is hard work, and it can’t be done with just anyone. You have to find the right person to trust your soul with, and I know how next-to-impossible that can feel. You’ve spent your whole life only trusting in the pain and yourself. How can you learn to do otherwise? I don’t have an easy answer. And the therapist doesn’t do it for you. At best, they are a guide in the darkest of your places – and when you finally get into the light you will walk on your own.  But you need help to get out of the pit you’re in. The kind of darkness you have been carrying needs a light and chances are you are stuck without one. People carry lights inside them. Find someone to share their light until you can get yours bright again. Then – who knows – you might be a light to others.

Why should you trust me, you might ask? Who the hell am I to speak to your pain, your scars, your experience? What right do I have to tell you what to do?

Because I am you  – on the other side of where you are now –  but part of me will always be there. I have the light and the dark, and I still find myself lost there from time to time. If you saw me, you would never know at first that I was anything but successful; solid marriage of 20 years that has survived its’ share of hardships; two healthy, uber successful children who excel at all they do; thriving art business; and animal rescue and therapy work that changed countless lives. But I know the darkness. I barely survived it. Look closer and you will see the crisscross of scars, the marks of pain that life has left on me – and I have helped make them. I wear my pain.

But I am better. More and more often, I choose to put down the knife, to choose a bloodless outcome, to hold the pain in my mind because I know it WILL NOT LAST. It might feel like I cannot control it, like I cannot hold it for one single second longer – but then I do, and it lessens… it lessens and I did not cut. I did not cut. I did not cut. And then I know, I *know* I can make a different choice. It. Is. Possible.

And when you know the impossible is possible, everything changes.

Stop hiding. Let the light find you, because even with your scars – you are beautiful.

life is better…

I go to a psychologist, more and more I believe in god and probably into itself, i think it’s my life is better.

It doesn’t control me.

I’m 16 now and i’ve been 2 months free of self-harm. I started when I was 10 because I was being bullied, my family life wasn’t the greatest, and I never had any friends. I started cutting to cope with all my overwhelming emotions. And i’ve been cutting ever since. Until 11th grade when I finally told my wonderful teacher about my self-harm, and she told my parents. She always answered my questions, supported me, and really encouraged me to get better. I don’t think I could have done it without her support. It’s been really hard to stop cutting, the need was (and still is) there in the back of my mind, but now I control it; it doesn’t control me. Thanks to the help of my supportive family, my teacher, my therapist, and friends, i’m going into 12th grade self-harm free….Now, after everything, I never want to go back to self-injuring. Ever.


Self-injury used to be a big part of my life. I used it to forget the world around me and I could be in control. I didn’t realize I was out of control till I couldn’t stop. Talking to people about has really help me cope and quit cutting. It took me 3 trys to make it through therapy. You can do it. I am two years free of self-injury. Breathing has become easier and life has become bearable. I know I have people around who love me and support me. Cutting is never the answer. Love is.

don’t think you can stop? THINK AGAIN!!!

… one day i relized it got very serious and told my best friend. she talked to me and tried to help. at first i thought she hated me for it. i learned she was just worried. she got me to tell a youth leader and then i eventaully told my parents. it was the scariest part! they were very understanding. i know that can be a scary part but it turned out to be the easiest! they talked to me and i was put in counciling. my counciler was so kind and understanding it was amazing. due to these steps, today on july 13th 2012 it has been 88 days since i last cut. i urge all the time but am able to fight. i know it sound scary to tell a a friend or parent but it will help…. i am telling you that you can stop and you can do this. you are not alone….

urges can pass

I’ve been getting treatment for a while now and I can honestly say that although urges can come on pretty strong they dont last forever. eventually they pass. and when they do you realize you dont have to give in each time they come back.

Remeber when you didn’t cut

So, my counsellor and I decided to write down the times I wanted to cut but didn’t. I couldn’t believe it. There were actually times when I felt urges but didn’t give in. Sometimes urges are so powerful but knowing that I don’t always give in gives me hope…I hope it does for you too! Good luck guys! I think we can do this!!!!