My only respite at the moment is sleep. For those few precious hours each night I don’t have to be intensely uncomfortable in my own skin. I can be in my dream away from the itching, bubbling sensations I get in my body. I’m really struggling with body image at the moment to the point where I constantly envision myself tearing my skin off my body. Peeling off my thick thighs and flabby belly. I’m at war with myself.
Getting dressed each day is horrible, trying to find clothes that don’t cling to my skin. I pull clothes that have no shape on to hide my body but nothing quite hides me enough to give me any ounce of confidence to face the day. Worse than getting dressed is showering or bathing…having to completely take my clothes off is nauseating, not to mention the mirror opposite the shower. I have my shower scolding hot so that I can get the relief of a steamed up mirror and then on my way out I can do my best to pretend my body doesn’t exist.
When I sit down my thighs distract me, every reflective surface, every mirror, every shop window stops me in my tracks and brings in thoughts of disgust and utter hatred for the vessel my soul resides in. I want to hide under a blanket constantly, that way I can cover up my repulsive self. I fell out of love with me a long time ago.
I want to go back to ballet but I’m afraid there will be an actual elephant in the room and that elephant will be me. I’m not sure I could handle seeing myself in a leotard and pretty pink tights, I feel far too ugly for that. I want to see family and friends. I miss them an awful lot but I don’t want them to see me. I’m terrified they’ll see what I see, I don’t want anyone to see that. What if they comment on my appearance? I’m not sure I could cope with that. I wish I had an invisibility cloak, then I could go out and about without any worries.
I feel trapped… Trapped in my skin, trapped inside buildings, trapped inside myself and trapped in a body I absolutely despise and then comes the urges to attack myself. I declare war on myself. I self-harm and create scars as ugly as I feel, I go to sleep wishing I don’t wake up so that I never have to see my reflection again or feel how my body makes me feel.
I need you to know that I have a personality disorder, it is the diagnosis that I don’t speak about publicly and rarely talk about to anybody because I’m scared that telling you what I have will make you think I am a bad person. I desperately need you to understand what life with a personality disorder is like. It isn’t an excuse for the way I behave, it’s an explanation.
My personality disorder makes any kind of relationship difficult. No one seems to stay long in my life and I often find that I am ‘too much’ for people as I am vulnerable and dependent. I feel inadequate a lot of the time. I struggle to fit in and often my efforts lead to me embarrassing myself. I have powerful relationships and a lot of love to give but they are full of terror and fear. I fear abandonment and rejection so much that it normally leads to the relationship breaking down. Being close to me is a challenge and I find myself constantly asking for reassurance in relationships but in the end the mistrust and need for reassurance pushes the other person away. The slightest change in a relationship feels unbearable. I find it hard to believe peoples’ excuses for not seeing me and I take it as rejection. I often end up attacking those who are close to me ensuring the very abandonment I fear. I can’t control myself. I’m like a tornado destroying everything in my path. Personality disorders are destructive. Never think that I don’t care about others, my struggles with relationships make me think I should be alone forever and stay away from everybody. Self-hatred is always with me and the hurt I’ve caused plays on repeat. I’ve lost so many people because of my personality disorder and it’s agonising.
I struggle with my identity, I don’t really know who I am, and neither do I understand myself. Things can change dramatically one moment to the next. In two minutes I can go from being full of hope to completely hopeless. I can be motivated to change the world one minute and the next not have the motivation to wash myself. I am impulsive which leads to me spending money I don’t have and getting into a financial situation that I need help to get out of. I struggle with bursts of anger that take over me and often lead to me self-harming. I struggle with suicidal tendencies but no wonder death is appealing, my world is very confusing and painful. The mood swings, paranoia and delusions on top of the confusion and anxiety in relationships is exhausting. I’m terrified of the future, what if I’m always like this? Will I ever be able to have normal relationships and get married and have a family? Will that ever be a reality for me?
I can explain my personality disorder to you but I can’t make you understand it. I just hope that somehow this piece of writing helps you to understand how complicated life with a personality can be and I hope that the people in my life that read this can give me their time and patience to remain in my life.
I began cutting myself when I was 12 years old. At the time I was struggling with life. Friendships were difficult. Perfectionism was crippling and I just hated myself. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated the words that left my mouth. I didn’t want to die then but I didn’t want to be me either.
Cutting became my way of coping and I would do it several times a day. It became my answer to everything. If I had an argument with someone, or if the bullies shouted stuff at me then I’d cut myself in the toilets. It was my private thing and it stopped me from bursting into tears all of the time. I began to cry in blood instead behind a locked door and I hid the evidence under my navy sleeves.
I can understand why people struggle to get their head around it. How can hurting yourself be a comfort blanket? Even as a self-harmer I find it difficult to answer. I think the first cut comes from a place of desperation, negative feelings and a lot of pain and then it turns into a cycle and the self-harming gives you control and punishment and it becomes your ‘go to’ thought.
I think there is a huge amount of stigma around self-harm. At school people would see the cuts when I was getting changed for PE and I was called an attention seeker which just made me hate myself even more. Self-harm is definitely not attention seeking, if I wanted attention I would do it in a better way than covering my body in ugly scars. If it was for attention I wouldn’t have cut in the middle of the night, under my duvet in the pitch dark or behind locked toilet doors.
It’s important to remember that self-harm is different to suicide. Not everybody who cuts wants to die. Sometimes cutting can feel like the only way to cope and stay alive. It can be easier to cope with the physical pain rather than the emotional pain.
Self-harm can affect anyone. It isn’t just a teenager’s problem. Any gender, any race and any age can be affected by self-harm. I never thought I’d cut myself and I don’t think my parents expected me to self-harm either. It was never meant to be this way. I’m not proud of my scars but I’m not ashamed of them either. They are a part of my story and I can’t change the past.