This post contains details about self harm and suicidal thoughts, so if you think you’ll be negatively affected by reading about those things, it’s probably a good idea not to go any further.
How do I deal with intrusive thoughts?
The truth is that I don’t. I mean, I have them, but dealing with them is something I’ve never been able to fully get a grip on. I’m good at ignoring them, but I’m not so good at getting rid of them.
Around the age of fourteen, I self harmed. Not in the traditional sense; I have no scars or anything like that. But I would scratch at my collarbone or the crease of my elbow. Often, I wouldn’t stop until my skin was sore and aching, with small burst blood vessels visible beneath like just before a bruise forms or a graze. Or a bad rug burn.
It hurt. It would sting horribly for days, like an open wound, and yet I’d still find myself doing it despite the swelling having not gone down from the previous time. Luckily, I never broke the skin, but in more serious cases I almost did. And it didn’t help that I also bit my nails so far down that the top few millimeters actually grew over and healed so that each finger only had half a nail.
At the time, I didn’t think it was that bad. But when I think back: what the fuck? I don’t even want to imagine how hard I must have been scraping my skin to get it into that state with almost non-existent nails. There is a picture of me somewhere sitting next to my first boyfriend in his kitchen, taken by his mum, and my inner elbow is so sore and red that it’s practically glowing. A good four inches of my arm several shades redder than my normal skin tone. But, weirdly enough, the only person that ever noticed it was him, and I stopped doing it (for the most part) weeks before we broke up.
In the middle of the time I spent destroying my arm and collarbone, I took an overdose. So I guess that time I definitely didn’t deal with my intrusive thoughts.
And now. Well, it isn’t great.
Most of the time it’s when I’m alone with nothing to distract me. Usually in the early hours of the morning. I can feel it coming, too. It’s like an uncomfortable feeling at the base of my skull where my neck meets my head. And then a fuzzy feeling at the sides of my head, just above my ears, where my migraines normally start. Disembodied hands reaching from behind and pressing my forehead, laying their fingers across my eyes.
And I think that it probably wouldn’t hurt too much if I just did one cut. Or maybe it just wouldn’t hurt that much at all. Because, realistically, it’s likely that getting a tattoo hurts more but that hasn’t stopped me from getting three. Three tattoos, which took weeks to heal and stung like hell, one the full length of my thigh. So if I can get over that then surely…?
And sometimes I look at the balcony on the mezzanine of my house and, with frustration, know that my feet wouldn’t touch the ground.
But sometimes I literally try to shake those thoughts away. I have, on occasion, said out loud “Fuck off, will you?”
Because I probably wouldn’t be able to clean up the blood properly, and I wouldn’t want my fiance to come home and find me, and I would end up telling him what I’d done.
If I ignore them, they’ll go away.
And that’s mostly why I haven’t acted on (or spoken to anyone about) any of these thoughts for a long time. Because of the effect it would have on other people. I don’t want to hurt anyone I love by doing something like that.
(Also because I’m scared of dying a painful death.)
And the tablets I was on before didn’t stop these thoughts. I was just indifferent to them. I thought them casually, the same way you’d think “hmm, I wonder whose cat that is” or “probably shouldn’t put off washing the towels any longer”. Which is better than having to push them away, but still inconvenient.
So some of the time I just get in bed and go to sleep so that they’ll be gone in the morning. They just dissipate on their own. If I do something else, like watch a film (bad comedies usually do the trick), it usually helps to drown them out. Anything that distracts my brain so that it has to focus on something else.
I usually try to end my posts with something pretty positive, but this doesn’t have one.
I experience some very intrusive thoughts. But I don’t act on them. And that’s really all I can say about it.