I’m very good at putting myself in the same situation, time and time again even though I know that no good will come of it and occasionally even if I know that it will just cause total chaos and upset. People often say that we learn through experience and via our mistakes, if that is true then I am either a very slow learner or completely inept when it comes to learning.
What I am talking about, in a very strange way, of course is self-harming. A process which I have been relying on to help me cope with my emotions, my moods and things from my past since I was 15. At least I started cutting myself at 15, although I am sure that I hurt myself in other less destructive ways before this age, in terms of interfering with healing wounds and chewing all the skin away from the inside of my mouth. I have a friend who keeps telling me that I need to stop cutting myself, and adds that it isn’t solving any of my problems and in fact, given my current medical predicament (the cancer and chemotherapy) it is adding more problems into my life due to my compromised immune system. They are most definitely correct on the last point; I was meant to be undergoing more chemo yesterday, today and tomorrow, however, due to an infection in the majority of the fresher cuts the staff were unwilling to risk it until I have completed a course of antibiotics.
It is not just my health that it is messing with. It is also my head. Most sane and rational people would have tried to stay out of the Accident & Emergency department after the registrar’s comments on Saturday and particularly after the threat that they wouldn’t be treated. I have now decided that when it comes to self-harming I am neither sane nor rational.
I met with Allison on Monday morning and she seemed more than a little concerned as to what had been added to my electronic notes since we last met. This consisted of a few conversations with the Crisis Team via the phone which involved me telling them about my suicide plans and actively suicidal behaviour, an assessment in A&E by the Crisis Team on Saturday after self-harming and 4 attendances at A&E in the 2 weeks between appointments, all requiring vast amounts of sutures. We talked about how concerned my GP is that the medication isn’t working and how I am going to see the team psychiatrist tomorrow afternoon for a medication review. We talked about the therapy that is going to start in January and how it will help me understand my emotions more and help me to predict and prevent them progressing to crisis point. We talked about how she will support me through the therapy as it will be a tough time for me, and how I will need to be committed to helping myself. We talked about the self-harming and why I thought it has reached such a high level of frequency and severity recently.
During these discussions she realised that I wasn’t really with her in the session. My body may have been there, in fact it may have looked as if my mind was there. In reality though I was sitting, staring at the floor but felt as if I was looking in on myself from the ceiling. I felt as if I was outside myself watching myself squirm at certain questions and feeling totally unable to step in and be a part of the session. She subtlely edged closer to me in her chair until she was sitting right next to me and laid a hand on my shoulder whereupon I burst into tears and started sobbing about the court case and how it brought a whole load of issues back from when I was about 13 and how no matter what happens in my life I will always be deemed a mentalist and unreliable when it came to me telling people things. I also then told her about my experience in A&E on Saturday, to which she was absolutely shocked.
Eventually I told her how I had spent most of Sunday night and early Monday morning cutting myself. Mainly because the image of the jury declaring him not guilty was stuck on repeat in my head, but also because I cannot get the things that his lawyer said about me out of my head. Allison tried to reassure me that it was his lawyer’s job to pull me to pieces and to try to make me out to be an unstable and unreliable witness, but my main problem is that it was so easy for him. All he had to do was mention that I’ve been sectioned twice this year and was looking for a scapegoat to blame my problems on, and apparently I chose his client.
She asked to look at the cuts, most were on my legs so I didn’t show her those but a couple were on my arm, which I did show her. She insisted I needed to go to A&E but I was dead set on not going after my experience on Saturday and she told me that they couldn’t refuse to treat me. In the end she frogmarched me over to the A&E department, booked me in at reception and sat with me until I was triaged. She informed the triage nurse of what I had experienced on Saturday and told them that she expected me to be treated the same as any other patient and she would be ringing me later that day to see how I was and ringing the hospital to see what treatment I had received. The triage nurse was great, I have met him before and he’s one of the charge nurses. He was utterly shocked at the attitude of one of the medical staff and said that I am fully within my rights to make a formal complaint against them, which Allison said she would back me with.
In the end I was sutured by an F2 I have met before. In fact I now refer to him as ‘fit F2’ with my friends as he is very good looking. Call me a freak but I Facebooked him and looked at his profile, I don’t really know why, and he turns out to have a long-term girlfriend, not that I was thinking of him in that way, I was just being nosey. The F2 sutured the cuts and talked through the events leading up to the self-harming. He was satisfied that because Allison brought me into the department, was contacting me that evening and again on Friday and is due to see me again a week on Friday that I didn’t need a psychiatric assessment. I told him I was seeing a psychiatrist on Thursday and he said that he hoped that they would be able to find some medication that would help me cope in a less destructive manner as according to him I am “an attractive and intelligent girl who shouldn’t be trying to destroy herself to such an extent and deserves some happiness”. I nearly cried when he said that.
Since then I’ve just been moping around really. My legs are very sore, as would be expected, and I have very little energy to do anything. Plus the weather isn’t particularly conducive to enticing me outside anyway. I see the psych tomorrow afternoon and am apprehensive as to what he is going to suggest but am also keeping an open mind.