Self Harm: A Serious Mental Health Issue

self harm cutSelf harm is a serious mental health issue. People who suffer from mental health issues sometimes use various forms of self-harm to deal with difficult emotions. I have bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, and I have engaged in various forms of self harm. Back in 1998, when I was hospitalized for bipolar depression, I used a plastic fork to cut my arm. In 2011, I cut my arm again and made a sore on my bicep. I kept picking at the sore so it wouldn’t heal, and after it scabbed over, I would rip the scab off. After the tremendous pain passed, there was an endorphin release that made me feel really good. Pulling that scab off provided an emotional release.

self harm on handI have also engaged in other forms of self harm. I have a habit of bending my fingers back to stretch the skin on my palms. You can see how callused that skin is. When I pull my fingers back and then let go, it hurts really bad. But after that pain comes the endorphin release, which feels really good. I’ve been doing this for years, but it just occurred to me recently that it is a form of self harm. I have tried to give up doing this to my hand, but when I don’t do it, I miss the pain as well as the endorphin release.

I have also engaged in other forms of self harm. I have a long-standing sugar addiction, and when I’m not doing well, I will sometimes binge on sugary crap. The sugar tastes good, and at least temporarily, it boosts my mood and helps me feel better for a while. Of course, excess sugar consumption has some serious downsides, and everyone knows that consuming too much sugar is not a healthy thing to do.

I live in Anchorage, Alaska, and I made a video on the issue of self harm while walking the Campbell Creek Trail near Taku Lake, and I hope that sharing my experiences with it will help you and those you love understand this behavior and find healthier ways to deal with difficult emotions. I do have one suggestion, and that is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT. It is the treatment of choice for borderline personality disorder, and mindfulness helps as well. If you can mentally step back from the emotions and look at things more objectively, then you might be able to use that mental space you have created to find a better, healthier way to deal with the emotions.

Bipolar Anger and Rage

anger and bipolar disorderIn this talk, made while I was walking the Campbell Creek Trail in Anchorage, Alaska, I talk about my experiences with bipolar anger and rage. These emotions, exaggerated by my illnesses, have been huge issues over the years. There have been many times over the years that my emotions have gotten out of control. In one instance, I was so angry and so filled with rage, that I actually wished harm to come to another human being. This woman is a very bad person, but that’s really no excuse for wishing harm to come to her, and the angry fantasies I had about her don’t make me proud. I’m healthier now, but for a long time, I responded to life situations that I didn’t like with inappropriate anger and rage. I routinely sent angry emails to anyone who was willing to listen to me, and I also routinely yelled at people who pissed me off. I remember one instance, which I didn’t mention in the video, of yelling at the power company over the phone because I was getting outrageous bills due to an electrical problem in the apartment I was living in. And I couldn’t get them to believe that there was a problem so they would troubleshoot it and fix it. It was extremely frustrating, but I chose anger over other more constructive ways to deal with the issue.

Anyway… I hope this video helps you to understand bipolar anger and rage. It’s not a pleasant subject to address, but it needs to be discussed.