Hope – even in the darkness.

im-sorryI haven’t written a post on here for some time now.  It was a realization which came to me sometime during the wee small hours of the night last night/this morning.

The truth is that it appears that I had, without realizing it, been going through an episode where my mental health was not as good as I thought it was.

I don’t know about you, but that happens to me sometimes.  In my head, and as far as I am aware, I think that I am managing much better than I really am.

And then something happens and I realize that this has just not been the case.

Now depending on what has happened during that period, or more specifically, how much damage has been done during that period.  I either do my best to fix any damage and move on or – where the damage has been great – it sends me into another deeper episode of poor mental health.

And that is what happened this last time.

But thankfully I think I am at least coming out of that episode now and whilst I know my mind still isn’t ‘right’ so to speak.  And whilst writing posts like this is taking me way longer than it would normally take (and requiring far more corrections that normal), I am at least able to post again.

So I wanted to apologize for not having posted here for such a long time.

And I also wanted to share some good news and some hope for those who like me struggle with self-harming.

Even though I had obviously been going through a period of bad mental health and even though – on realizing this and that some damage had been done as a result of this – I am so grateful that in all this I haven’t, as far as I can tell, self-harmed.

That is not to say that the need or the urges haven’t been there.  In fact it was during and fighting the most recent compulsion to self-harm which made me realize that despite knowing that I had had them, I hadn’t responded to them how I normally would.

I am so encouraged by this!  And I wanted to share it with you as a way of sharing that there is hope.

Thankfully, I have had a lot of support lately – even and especially whist going through this latest bad episodes and I am sure that this has helped.

I think that this whole realization and indeed the thought processes surrounding my self-harming came as a result of my watching a movie yesterday and a song which was featured in that movie.  It is not a song (or artist) which I was aware off, until now, and it really spoke to me when I heard it.

So I thought I would look for it on YouTube and share it with you.  The song is “Breathe Me” and the artist is called ‘Sia’.  I hope it speaks to you as it spoke to me.

🙂

 

 

 

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“Scars Are Meant To Heal”

To-Save-a-Life-christian-movies-paddedScars are meant to heal“.  I chose the phrase as the title of this article as it is a quote which stood out for me from the film ‘To Save A Life.’

I have been slowly building my library of Christian and faith-based movies of late and one of my kids (Devon) told me about the ‘To Save A Life’ movie.  “Dad, you simply have to get it.  It is one of my favorite Christian movies.”  He told me.

But he also added the warning, “But be real careful when you watch it Dad, because it deals with, and even has a scene with, some self-harming.”

Of course, he knows that I have had a history of self-harming in the past and that I – like many others – still struggle with it when my mind gets bad.

And the truth is that one of the aspects of self-harming (and one which is extremely dangerous and unhealthy) is that it is often done in secret and all too often kept hidden.  Fears of being considered a freak, or judged or ridiculed, or rejected, accompany this and all too often compel us away from the very help that we need.

So, as a Christian Dad, I decided that I would not allow myself to hide this – or my mental health issues – any more.  Either from my children (who were old enough to understand what was going on) or from anyone else who should know.

And I have to tell you that it (deciding to no longer hide it and to actually get help with it) was probably one of the best decisions I have made.

Do I still struggle with self-harming?  Yes, the truth is that I do.  [And I say that in full knowledge that articles from this blog automatically go on my Facebook page and that others who know me (including folk from church) might read this.]  But I truly believe that there is indeed hope and that sharing information about this particular movie – and it’s content and message – is so very important.

Actually. the film deals with far more than self-harming.  It deals with teenage suicide as well.  And it looks at feelings of; isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, alienation and desperation, as well as other topics and it also challenges the church’s approach to these issues.

In truth I am no teenager, and in truth it has been many years since I was one.  But those feelings – feelings of; isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, alienation and desperation are far from being exclusive to teenagers and in truth suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation are no respecter of age or color or status or creed.

I watched the ‘To Save A Life’ movie this morning and I would (the warning below having been given) recommend it to any one – especially parents, youth workers and church leaders as a movie well worth watching. And I am very grateful to Devon for recommending it to me.

TW SIGN

– TRIGGER WARNING –

BUT if you struggle with suicidal thoughts or self-harming I would not recommend that you watched it alone.  The movie is both very real and very hard-hitting!

Please, if you struggle with either of these, only watch this film with others who you trust.

Scars are meant to heal.”  I absolutely believe this.  And I absolutely believe that that healing is available if only we know where to look for it and if only we can reach out and grasp it!

I know that mine, by the grace of God and the love of those who truly care for me, are healing.  And it is my hope and my prayer that you too – if you are struggling with these issues can reach out to someone and find that help and that healing.

There truly is hope and you truly do matter!

God bless you.

Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog For Mental Health 2013 – An Invitation!

blogformentalhealth20131winner

Because of the importance of this initiative in my opinion, I am posting this post on all four collective community based blogs that I am involved in: Resonate Freedom, Christian Concern For Mental Health, Teens For Global Mental Health Awareness, and The Mental Health Writers Guild. For those of you who follow more than one of these blogs and thus have this repeated in your inbox I apologize but it really is such a great and important cause in my opinion.

Here is how this thing works:

1.) Take the pledge by copying and pasting the following into a post featuring “Blog for Mental Health 2013″.

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

2.) Link back to the person who pledged you.

Ok that one is fairly easy, it was initially Ruby over at I Was Just Thinking via my personal blog “Voices of Glass“.

3.) Write a short biography of your mental health, and what this means to you.

In terms of a short bio in respect of my personal mental health this can be found here, but since this is a collective/community blog I will simply skip this part here. But I do look forward to reading those of anyone who does pledge as a result of this post 🙂

4.) Pledge five others, and be sure to let them know!

Here again, due to the collective/community based nature of this blog I am not going to pledge any blog or blogger in particular BUT I do want to encourage all the followers and/or members of this blog to seriously consider getting involved and committing to this cause if you have the time. It really is such an important cause in my opinion.

5.) And, as something novel for 2013, Lulu and I ask one more thing of you.

As you may have noticed, Canvas does not keep an official blogroll, outside of links to our authors’ personal blogs. For something new and special to introduce Blog For Mental Health 2013, and really build a sense of community — and show everyone how many of us there are, and how strong we are, coming together — we are launching a Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll! So, in addition to linking back to the person who pledged you, please include the link to the original post in your piece. As this gets passed along, link back or click here and leave a comment containing the link to your pledge, and we will put you on our Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll page! Show the world our strength, show them our solidarity, show them what we are made of. Take the Blog for Mental Health pledge and proudly display the badge on your blog!

Closing remarks…

I am so honored to be a part of this cause I hope and pray that so many others will also get involved if they are able!

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Self-Harm And Some ‘Pain-Full’ Truths.

TW SIGN In this post I am going to be considering, as a result of a recent brief, but ongoing, conversation I have had with another blogger who struggles with self-harm, the whole question of pain and self-harm.
But before continuing I need to clarify one or two things…

Firstly I am no medical or mental health professional. I am but someone who suffer with mental health related difficulties and who as part of that suffers with suicidal ideation and struggles with self-harming.

Secondly, the following are simply theories, my own theories, based on my understandings and shared as a process through which I can seek to work out what is going on and in the process open up a dialogue through which others who struggle with self-harming or have experience with it can share their thoughts and experiences.

Because of these two facts, all that I ask is that you read and carefully consider what I am saying and respond according to your heart. 🙂

The attraction of pain

It sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? For pain to actually have an attraction to it. But then are there not those who enjoy inflicting pain on other and similarly those who enjoy having pain inflicted on them?

Of course we are all different and we all respond and react differently to things and have differing needs but why not read this through and honestly ask yourself which apply to you. And whilst doing it how about asking yourself if pain and the attraction to pain have any place or bearing when it comes to self-harm and especially when you self-harm?

So let’s look candidly at a few of the Realities, Myths and Pitfalls.

The Physical.

We are physical beings and thus the need for physical experiences and sensations are part of each and every one of us.

Consider if you will how good it “feels” to get into a bed freshly made with clean sheets? Or how certain textures feel against the skin. How does it feel when you are physically spent or when you put a great deal of physical effort into something and then find the release at the end of it? That rewarding feeling of aching all over and having achieved something in the process?

Or the feelings that we experience at the point of initial contact when we do self-harm?

Are we responding to the pain or to the “endorphins” released as a result of that pain – and to some extent the circumstances behind the pain?
Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are substances originating internally which are psychoactive chemicals bonded together and functioning as neurotransmitters. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during such things as exercise, excitement, pain, eating spicy foods, love, sex – especially during orgasm and which resemble opiates in their ability to produce analgesia (pain killing effects) and a feeling of well-being.

The more intense the exercise, excitement, pain, spicy food, love, sex/ orgasm the more the flow of Endorphins and we can, in the right circumstances, experience an “endorphin rush”. Something often sort by some people.

Arguably, on a physical level at least, any possible attraction to pain is more likely an attraction to these pain-killing, well-being sensation giving endorphins. And folk who place their bodies in extreme situations or who are into S&M, being spanked etc, doing so for the physical response rather than the emotional or psychological responses are often doing so because of these endorphins.

So how does this play out in our Self-harming scenario?

Well think about this if you will…

Very often the need to self-harm comes from a need to feel or release. The need to feel something or to release the feelings that we believe are somehow locked up inside. We view, or believe we experience, in the act of self-harming that ‘feeling something’ or that ‘release of those feelings’. But what we are actually feeling, what we are actually experiencing is a combination of the pain and indeed the flow of those endorphins and that can make for a dangerous and addictive cocktail.

And on top of this we need to consider and be mindful of what happens once we have self-harmed. We often feel guilty or ashamed don’t we? We often also experience a low.

Part of this is down to our psychological and emotional response to the actions that we instinctively know inside that we should not have done and part of it is because the relative ‘high’ that we experienced through the release of those endorphins has now gone and so not only are we back to square one but we are now having to face the additional concern, guilt or shame that we are experiencing as a result of our actions.

So let’s also look at those emotional and psychological aspects…

The Emotional and Psychological

As I said, we are all different, and there can without doubt be different motivations behind self-harming.

For some it is that release or need to feel which I spoke of earlier.  For others it is a need to express.  For others it is a need to be punished or to punish others by punishing ourselves.

These can be, and often are, frustration based.  Frustration at circumstances and situations,  frustration as a result of not being able to get what we need from other sources or frustration with ourselves.

How many of us, who self-harm, can’t cope with something and as a result of that feel the need to go and self-ham?  How many of us who self-harm are angry at ourselves or others and so go and punish ourselves – or indirectly those others by hurting the person they love – by self-harming?  How many of us feel the need to express or release our inner often locked up and unexpressed feelings through self-harming.

Could it be that for those of us who feel the need to be punished or to punish, that pain response is the payment we feel we need to make and the endorphin response mentioned above is confirmation that the payment is made and everything is ‘ok’ now?

Could it be that for those of us who feel the need to experience feelings but who experience a lack of them that pain and the endorphin flow coupled together achieves this?

We need to be very mindful here, I believe, that self-harm isn’t only self-injury!  It can take numerous forms.  But what I am discussing here – primarily as a result of the conversation I mentioned above – are those forms for which pain features as a very real aspect of it and which appears to be such a key element.

There is, I am convinced, no doubt that pain can be life-affirming.  After all you have to be alive in order to feel pain don’t you? And this is certainly a part of it all.  Indeed the comment that inspired this entire post was this, “One thing I would like to explore more is why things that make us feel better usually involve pain. I have discussed with friends before why we need to feel like we’re dying in order to feel alive.

“A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as failing to see or hear it.” Michelangelo

Pain is life affirming!  Especially physical pain.  Physical pain is tangible and therefore has a very real attraction to where the intangible is present.  It can seemingly fill the deepest of voids and let’s be real here, since we are discussing this candidly, the tangible presence of physical pain can fill the intangible void created by psychological and emotional pain.

But as true as this is the question as to be – should we allow it to?

As someone who has struggled with self-harming I do, I believe, understand, at least in part, the attraction of that physical pain and indeed those endorphins.  But I am convinced that there are far better, far healthier ways of dealing with the needs and issues behind the desire or need for physical pain.

And here is a basic truth and something that I think we really need to consider..  Earlier I stated my belief that “the tangible presence of physical pain can fill the intangible void created by psychological and emotional pain.” But whatever way we look at it, the truth is that it is a wrong and unhealthy approach to a problem or a set of problems that need addressing correctly.

That problem or set of problems is, in my opinion, “where is that intangible void created by psychological or emotional pain” coming from?

And the correct response is, in my opinion,  not to fill the void with tangible physical pain but to address that void itself and to remove it.

So there you have it.  One man’s take on some ‘Pain-full’  truths about self-harming.  Let me know what you think as I really am interested in your opinions.

 

 

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WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY – Sept 10th

REBLOGGED FROM VOICES OF GLASS:

The fact that suicidal thoughts and ideation has been part of my life since early childhood is no secret and I have written about it on this blog several times before.

It is a subject dear to my heart as it is a very real spectre that can haunt the mind of many a person.  Not only those of us who suffer from poor mental health, but many a person and it  can and has also cast very dark shadows over the lives of those who have lost a loved one through suicide.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2012 is on September 10th this year and it is something I am encouraging everyone to get involved in.

The world Health Organisation state that…

The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined.

Its a staggering statistic isn’t it?  And we need to be very mindful that this is also a very real threat to many of our young people.

So why not get involved?

One way is to light a candle at or near a window on September 10th at 8pm. to show your support for Suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one, and for the survivors of suicide.

And there are other ways in which you can get involved and show your support, especially if you have a mental health blog.

Why not reblog this post or write your own piece in support of this important issue?

I am also going to be placing some resources on the Mental Health Writers Guild Recourses page which you are welcome to use.  Or alternatively why not visit the links below for further details.

International Association For Suicide Prevention.

Official World Suicide Prevention Day Facebook Event Page

Together we CAN make a difference!

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My Kiwi Liebster Award!

My Kiwi blogging buddy Cate from over at ‘Infinite Sadness or what?’ has so very kindly awarded this blog for ‘the Liebster Award’.

I am so very grateful to Cate for this award not least of all because this blog is one which I struggle with the most I think.

If my understanding is correct the award is given according to the following remit…

“This award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers, as a way to
encourage them, as well as spread love around the community. It also shares
appreciation for fellow bloggers and the wonderful work they do.”

So I am humbled and grateful.

For the record this award was delivered via the comment section of this blog, and not by airmail.  But that is perfectly understandable as we have already established that Kiwi’s don’t fly 🙂

Under the terms of the award I now have to share 11 random facts about myself and since Cate very kindly awarded this blog the award I have decided that I am going to try to pay homage to her Kiwi status by linking a relevant New Zealand fact within each of the Random facts about me…

My Latest 11 Random Facts.

Fact 1...

I have  crazy kind of brain. (Like that is either random or news, but hey it is a fact at least) and as a result of it I often contemplate stupid and trivial things such as…

What was the best thing before sliced bread?  Since we all say “its the best thing since sliced bread”, and…

According to reported statistics there are up to 9 times more sheep in New Zealand than there are people.   If this is the case then why is it that you don’t see more New Zealand Sheep writing blogs?  I mean obviously New Zealand people do, Cate proves that so one would think that statistically there should be a greater number of New Zealand sheep writing blogs.

Fact 2… 

I once (when I was much younger) went to a late night fancy dress party with my older brother.  He went dressed as a Pharaoh and I went dressed in drag as a woman.  We got a taxi there and he sat in the back and I sat in the front.  All the way to the party the taxi driver was chatting me up and touching me knee.  Something which caused my older brother (who could hear what the taxi driver was saying nd on at least one occasion noticed the taxi driver touching my knee) much amusement.   What gave me the most amusement however was the look on the taxi driver’s face when after we had arrived at the party he offered to come in with me and I looked him square in the face and in my deep male voice told him,  “I don’t think that is such a good idea, do you fella?  And anyway you aren’t my type!”

And whilst talking about cars (a taxi is after all a car)  New Zealand is reported to have the highest rate of car ownership.  Which would suggest (given our previous statistic) that the sheep in New Zealand drive or at least own cars.

Fact 3…

I can read books just as easy when they are upside down as when they are the right way up.  Always have been able to and I sometimes deliberately hold a book upside down and read it when I am on a bus or a train just to enjoy the quizzical expressions of the people sat opposite me.

New Zealand is reported to have more book shops than any other country in the world.  Sooooo ( yes you guessed it) does that mean the sheep all read books?

Fact 4…

When I was younger I decided that it was time I got into a more sedate sport (previously I had done football, fencing, rugby, boxing, Judo, and Karate) so I decided to try my hand at Golf.  Unlike my older and younger brothers I was absolutely useless at it!  On numerous occasions ending up hitting the darned ball backwards instead of forwards (don’t ask me how as I still don’t know to this day) so I gave it up as a bad idea!

By the way, New Zealand is reported to have the more golf courses than any other country in the world  ( bet you know what is coming now, don’t you?) does that mean the sheep all play golf?

And…… did they learn how by reading book on the subject?  (Bet you didn’t see that part coming) And…… Since they all own cars, do they practice on the ‘driving range’? ( Ha, how’s that for creativity!)

Fact 5…

When I was a child I fell through a shed roof.  How’s that for random?  (Hm I wonder if that explains a lot more than I have considered?)  In my defense I was very young and the shed was very old and very shaky as a result of that.

(Wondering how I am going to incorporate a New Zealand fact on that one?) Well the shed was old and shaky and New Zealand is known colloquially as “the Shaky Isles’ because of it’s geothermal activity and numerous earthquakes.

The shed I fell through the roof of as a child.

Fact 6…

When I visit my local movie rental shop they have a special deal whereby you can hire old movies for a week at a time at a very low cost.  One of my favourite things to do is to pick a handful of these older movies which I have never heard of and see if I can find any ‘little gems’ in them.

Two of my favourite films found this way (and I now own them both on DVD) are  ‘Whale Rider’ and ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’  Hm. Does that qualify me for honorary ‘Kiwi’ and ‘Aussie’ status I wonder?

Fact 7…

In my guest bathroom I have very nice white birdcage on a stand in which there is a talking motion activated model of a ‘bouncer/nightclub doorman’ it is there because I used to be a bouncer and so did my son and because whenever I have had a bird, they have always died shortly after I have bought them – probably as a result of TJ my dog scaring the poor things to death.

I would if it were not for TJ, love to have a talking parrot which would of course replace the bouncer.

And incidentally, New Zealand is home of the Kakapo the world’s largest, flightless parrot.

Fact 8…

When my fiance and I got engaged and we were planning the wedding the idea was floated about our combining our surnames in order to continue my wife’s family name (at least in part) since she was an only child.  But such was the distress that this idea gave my father, who was keen for my Family name to continue as is that we decided that to combine the two surnames and thus change my surname would be a mistake.

New Zealand got it’s name by mistake!  In 1642 the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman became the first European to discover New Zealand, which he named ‘Staten Landt’ on his maps, thinking it was an island off Chile sighted in 1616. When it was realized that they were two different places, the Dutch mapmakers gave the archipelago the Latin name ‘Nova Zeelandia’ after the Dutch province. The Latin became the Dutch ‘Nieuw Zeeland’, which was in turn misspelled ‘New Zealand’ by the English explorer Captain James Cook.

Fact 9…

As an avid reader I have many authors who’s work I enjoy reading.  Among my favourites are C. S. Lewis J. R. R. Tolkien who were great friends.

Amongst my book collection I have the full set of Lewis’s ‘Narnia Chronicles’ and the full set of Tolkien’s Hobbit/Lord of The Rings etc.  I also have the movies and interestingly (at least for the purpose of linking my random facts with New Zealand) both of the Narnia Chronicles and the Lord of the Rings films have in part been filmed in New Zealand.

Fact 10…

As a child I spent most of my time during summer holidays on the beach.  I grew up in my family home on the south coast of England and within minutes of the beach and so that is where we spent most of our summer days and I loved it!

New Zealand has a beach called 90 mile beach which is actually only about 55 miles long.

Fact 11…

I have contemplated trying many extreme sports/activities in my time but have always resisted the temptation.  Of all the crazy extreme sports/activities that are out there the one which frightens me the most and which I would never ever consider doing is bungee jumping.

Bungee jumping was actually invented – (yep you guessed it) in New Zealand.

Conclusion.

So there you have them, my 11 random facts and my 11 linked facts about New Zealand ( man that was a challenge – why do I get myself into these crazy ideas?)

I hope they haven’t bored you too much and I hope I have done Cate and New Zealand proud.

Ah New Zealand, a wonderful country where the sheep outnumber the people up to 9-1.  Where the sheep play golf, drive about in cars, and read books.  (Although obviously the sheep don’t read books to the birds otherwise they could have taught the birds HOW TO FLY!)

Why do the sheep outnumber people 9-1?  Well it might have something to do with the fact that New Zealander’s favourite past time seems to be tieing elastic around peoples’ ankles and pushing them off of bridges and things?

Or is the tieing of elastic round people’s ankles just a safety precaution as a result of the isles being so shaky?

And where the  country is so old and unreal that  it is a perfect location for fantasy films.

And where they have beautiful long beaches, sadly not as long as they say they are in their names however 🙂

(And if the New Zealand Tourist Board is reading this I am available for consultation for wtriting adverts, pamphlets  and slogan etc.)

My Nominations…

And as a recipient of this award I am now meant to nominate other blogs and bloggers who have …

” less than 200 followers, as a way to encourage them,
as well as spread love around the community. It also shares
appreciation for fellow bloggers and the wonderful work they do.”

My nominations go to…

Many of Us – Another blog which I follow and enjoy 🙂

breastlessandbipolar – an excellent blog that I follow and enjoy 🙂

teens4globalmentalhealthawareness – a blog just started by one of my teenage sons (which I am so proud of him for)

Shitegeist – a fellow member of the Mental Health Writers Guild and another blog which I follow and enjoy 🙂

So there you have it.  Again thank you for the nomination my little kiwi compadre 🙂

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Don’t Just Say No.

It’s nearly 6 in the morning and I have been up all night as a result of the urges to self-harm which I think so many of us know so well.

If I am completely honest I hate these darned urges and I know all too well just how dangerous they can be.

I am also very familiar with different coping techniques that can be employed during such times and I thank the Lord that I am as they have helped greatly once again.  Many of these can be found here by the way and if you struggle with self-harm can I encourage you to check them out.

Of course the fact of the matter is that you truly have to want to fight those urges and sometimes that just isn’t easy.  But if you do want to fight them having the right approach is essential.

This is something that was recognized many years ago in respect of anti-drugs campaigns.  You may well be familiar with the old campaigns that were entitled (and indeed had the core message) ‘JUST SAY NO!’.

What was soon learned was that this message and indeed tha approach just didn’t work.  Why?  Well primarily because it didn’t do anything to fill the void.  In terms of abuse and addiction people didn’t do it just for the sheer heck of it they did it because of a need and because they perceived the drink or the drugs to be fulfilling that need or at very least to be providing something else in it’s place.

Those urges to self-harm are a sign of a need and whilst responding to the need by self-harming is a very unhealthy and unhelpful response in the long-term it gives the impression in the short-term that it works.  Of course it really isn’t and is just feeding that need and complicating matters more BUT the fact remains that we have to recognize the core need that is there.

So tonight I didn’t JUST SAY NO.  I said no and did something constructive in its place.  Actually I did some computer work which needed to be done and which I had scheduled for later today.  Afterall the fact that I have been up all night as a result of those urges would mean that I would have little concentration and energy later today and would need to rest.  So doing some of today’s work whilst up last night seemed very sensible.

Additionally I did a load of housework – cleaning and re-arranging etc.  This is an excellent thing  to do as not only does it mean that your brain is actively engaged in stuff but it also mans that your body and more importantly your hands are occupied.  Of course you have to be careful around certain objects and ever mindful of the temptations that are there but it really does help.  On went the positive and upbeat music ( it is important to have that kind of music rather than silence or downbeat and negative music playing) and on I got with some chores.

And there is another very real benefit from doing this.  You get to see the fruits of your labour and to take encouragement from the fact that it came about as a result of a victory.

By doing housework you have not only been productive and achieved something but you have turned a potentially harmful and negative thing into something very positive and beneficial.

This is a wonderful thing to do.  Of course the dog thinks I am crazy and is wondering just what it going on but hey, I am sure he will cope and I am really pleased that I have coped!

 

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Yey! An Award!

I am so very grateful to receive a Reader Appreciation Award for this blog from my blogging buddy Cate over at Infinite Sadness or what?

I really appreciate Cate and her writing and so to receive a reward from her is always a blessing.

According to the rules, and yes there are rules  I now have to…

  • List something you’ve been up to lately.
  • Nominate 6 other blogs.

And so in response to those rules here are my responses..

Something I have been up to lately.

Well I have been trying to adopt a much healthier lifestyle.  I had an extremely bleak report from my last visit to the hospital and so drastic action was needed.  The drastic action in question being the new healthier lifestyle and more importantly trying to substitute constructive, positive and healthy responses in  situations where I would normally revert to destructive, negative and unhealthy responses.

Nominate 6 other Blogs.

Well first I have to clarify that Cate’s Blog ‘Infinite Sadness or what?‘ would automatically be one of the 6 but since I know Cate already has this award I won’t include it in my 6 this time.  (Whenever folk do that to me I always feel I then have to do the whole thing again lol)

So here are my six (in alphabetical order)…

…But She’s Crazy
Mathematically Confused
Not Quite Lost
Seasons Change , and Change
The bipolar place
Underground

All of those blogs are ones which, like Cate’s, I really appreciate and try to follow as much as possible.  I like them all for differing reasons but the one thing they all have in common is that they are real and sometimes raw!

I like those qualities and highly recommend those blogs to you.

So there you have it.  My response and I would like again to thank Cate for nominating this blog.

Does the end justify the means?

It is an interesting question isn’t it?  One which has been around since ages past and one which will no doubt be around for ages to come.

It is also a question which I think those of us who self-harm should consider at some time or another in respect of our self-harming behaviour.

Self-harming is something which is entering more and more into our public awareness and in the main doing so in a positive way.  This is without doubt a good thing.  Too long has it gone unrecognized and misunderstood and in truth far too long has it and those who suffer from it been treated with stigma and condemnation.

But we need to be careful don’t we?

There is in life and human nature – especially corporate or collective human nature – , or so it seems to me, something I like to call the pendulum effect.

The pendulum effect is basically an over-compensation in response to a given situation and it is, I would suggest visible, in so much of our history.  Many of our laws have evolved through a process of over-compensation before settling to a more rational and appropriate state.

Recently I and at least one other follower (that I know of) of this blog have been following a piece on self-harming where it would appear that the suggestion is that we view self-harming as an ‘authentic’, ‘spiritual awakening’ or a ‘life journey’ or a ‘rite of passage’ .  This has all the potential markings of such a pendulum effect

I cannot begin to describe how deeply concerned and disturbed I am over this approach and since that approach is now ‘out there’ in the ‘blogosphere’ I think it is important that an opposing and alternative view be ‘out there’ also.

So let’s look at each of those in turn…

‘Spiritual awakening’.

Let me nail my colours to the mast here.  I am a Christian and as such I fully believe that there is a spiritual aspect to all things.  Likewise I freely and fully accept that in some cases the cause behind a person feeling the need to resort to self-harm may at it’s core be spiritually based.  However, is this an ‘awakening’?  Well not in my understanding it isn’t!

Could it be a call or even a cause to spiritual awakening?  Absolutely, but the truth is that I cannot view it as a spiritual awakening unless the spiritual aspect of it is actually explored.

‘Life-journey’

The word ‘journey’ suggests a process. Its very meaning is a ‘defined course’.  But I think we need to be very careful here.  If I were to write an auto-biography of my life (to map my journey thus far) it is certainly true that my struggle with self-harming would feature as a part of that journey.  BUT is a part of that journey that I should have taken and is it part of that journey that I HAD to take.

The answer to both of those questions is of course NO and actually the fact remains that in terms of my journey (and I would suggest the journey of most people who have struggled with self-harm) it is a part which did more harm than good – but then the clue is pretty much in the term isn’t it?

Which leads me neatly to the next part…

‘Rite of passage’

The term rite of passage was I think originally used by Arnold Van Gennep – a French anthropologist and nowadays is used more commonly to signify ‘A ritual or ceremony signifying an event in a person’s life indicative of a transition from one stage to another, as from adolescence to adulthood’.

Ok so again I can see the tenuous link here BUT again I have major problems with this.  As we have already demonstrated yes this can feature as part of an episode or episodes in someone’s life but it is important that we see the ‘rite’ or ‘ritual’ part in the context of it being a series of actions or a type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone and not as something ‘glorious’ or ‘noble’ or even ‘acceptable’

Which I think brings me to the last part and possibly the key part of all this – that suggested ‘authenticity

‘Authenticity’

It is here that I want to be as clear as I can possibly be in all of this.  I truly struggle with this label – what is meant or implied by it?

Accurate?  Reliable? Right?  Factual?  Proper? Appropriate? Responsible?

Are we really suggesting that these apply to the act of self-harming?

Please do not get me wrong here. I am not disputing the authenticity of the feelings,  emotions, or thoughts which can result in a response of  self-harming I am simply disputing the ‘authenticity’ of the response itself.

I started this piece with the title and question, “Does the end justify the means?” and it is, in the opinion of this writer, a very pertinent and extremely important question for those of us who struggle with self-harm.

Whilst it is a very simplistic answer I would have to say that the end justifies the means ONLY where no better alternative means or end are available.

And there within lies the truth doesn’t it?  The fact is when it come to self-harming in the majority of cases a better alternative is available to us.

I struggle with self-harm.  I make no secret of that fact.

Thankfully, I have over time been able to find alternative coping mechanisms, redressed and righted the altered or wrong perceptions that have caused these responses in me or addressed and righted the situations and circumstances in my life which were also causing them.

I understand why I self-harmed and still sometimes still get the urge to self-harm BUT I do not justify, validate or authenticate that behaviour because to do so is both wrong and harmful in itself.

The truth is there are better alternative means and less harmful ways of dealing with things and the truth is that self-harming can have serious and long lasting effects which all too often lead to greater distress, discomfort or problems in life.

If that pendulum I spoke of earlier, in respect of self-harming swings from that place of condemnation, stigma, and ridicule to a place of understanding and appropriate response then I for one am all for it and afterall isn’t that the main purpose of this blog?

BUT the minute it swings too far the other way to a place where the self-harming behavior itself becomes acceptable then I think we are in a very dubious and dangerous area indeed.  Because then we are neither endorsing nor encouraging nor enabling the healing but instead we are endorsing, encouraging and enabling a wrong and harmful response.

If you personally struggle with self-harming or know of someone who struggles with it please know that there is help out there and please feel free to get in touch via the comment section below.

 

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