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What Suicide Has Taught Me

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I’ve watched my mother deal through the grief of my grandpa’s and aunt’s suicide; the constant pain she felt and the way she teared up on their birthdays or suicide anniversaries. She hadn’t told me these were suicides; I would’ve been too young to understand.

I remember standing on the main floor, hearing my mom huddle into a pillow over the death of her father and I couldn’t comprehend it. I was only a toddler.

Why is it that, the day after my birthday, Matante killed herself and my mom had to leave with no explanation? I wanted to come with, but she couldn’t bare to tell me.

To this day, she is wounded by these suicides, and it has left a void that is way too visible.

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Suicide was a part of the family genes, but I was lucky enough to have been a child and have no understanding of taking ones own life. Until I was 15 years old, and my brother’s friend jumped in front of a train. I didn’t know him the way my brother did, but I knew him better than anyone else from school did, and he chose to end his life.

I, too, was struggling with suicidal thoughts at the time and connected on a deeper level with him. He did what I didn’t have the guts to do, I thought.

Over the months, I developed PTSD symptoms. I could see him; the terror in his eyes as the train approached and that force dragging him to be hit. I could feel his body flinging in the air and studied the direction his body would go depending on how he chose to jump. My mind was a gruesome minefield and he was the picture etched into my skull.

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His suicide ripped me to shreds; I lost a good portion of my hair and was no longer functional. I declined in school and in my extracurricular activities, and I was more suicidal than I had ever been.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about suicide, about myself, and how I truly feel about suicide.


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Life Is Worth Living. People say this all the time without true emotion behind it, but I know how true this statement is.

Everyday, I get to see the sunshine, the smiling faces of the people around me and watch myself grow into a beautiful young woman with all the capabilities in the world. I get to watch my brother who was supposed to pass at the age of 16, grow into his twenties, and join my family for some of the most memorable holidays.

I started my writing career, which has been my dream since I was a child, and I couldn’t imagine deceiving myself in that way. Had I gone ahead and ended my life, I wouldn’t be able to see my abilities convey themselves onto pieces of paper. Sure, my work isn’t perfect but it never had to be. It just has to be the best I can do, which is a reward in itself.

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You don’t get rid of pain; you pass it on. It isn’t right for anyone to guilt trip you when you’re considering suicide because, that shouldn’t be the reason you choose to stay. You should choose to stay because you deserve life and you are able to be great.

But, there is truth in the statement “you don’t end the pain, you pass it on.” I’ve witnessed and experienced it. You don’t need to be family to have an impact on someone through a suicide; being an acquaintance is enough to affect someone in abundance.

Your pain is molded and transferred in a tragic way to nearly everyone who has come into contact with you, and it’s distressing to see.

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No; no one would be happier if you died. When we experience suicidal feelings, we often feel unwanted or unloved because someone may be experiencing feelings of frustration or anger towards us, but this does not mean they would be happier if we were gone. Even if they claim they want you to kill yourself, they don’t mean it. In reality, there would be great amounts of guilt on their part and they would be distraught with themselves for ever mistreating you; questioning themselves regarding their involvement.

I’m sure my grandfather thought the same way; maybe he felt he was a burden to his family. But, because of his death, I have a forever mourning mother, and I have been robbed of an important relationship with him. He promised to take me fishing with him; leaving me behind at such a young age to go with my siblings. He was supposed to be present in my life, teach me lessons and watch me grow, but he absented himself.

I am not happier that he died, nor is my mom or any of his relatives. There is no bad he could’ve done to make us feel happier without him.

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It’s a thought that can be changed. Suicidal thoughts stem from trauma or a mental illness; we are so desperate to end the pain and grief that we search for a way out. It is often said that people commit suicide because they want the pain to stop.

When you commit suicide, that pain never gets a chance to stop or evolve into something beautiful. It’s only a thought, a feeling, and it can be changed with persistence and a desire to change. You must convince yourself otherwise and move towards a healthy lifestyle that strays you from suicidal urges.

It is possible to live a happy life, and we want you to see it.

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Nothing will change if we don’t try. Since my brother’s friend passed, my life has gone full circle. It was worse before it got better. I was homeless twice, went to a treatment center, completed high school, was in a bad relationship and got out of it, have gotten my own place and got so far in recovery that I can’t believe how far I’ve come.

Had I gone along and committed suicide, nothing would’ve gotten better. I would’ve never been able to see all the beautiful things I have now. I would’ve left during the worst time of my life, without giving myself a chance to become an adult and understand the world around me.

What a joy life is; and I am damn grateful I never succeeded during my suicide attempts.


If you are suicidal or experiencing crisis, please contact your local crisis line. 

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Cured From BPD?

borderline personality disorder, cured from bpd, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

I got diagnosed at the mere age of 14, after a serious suicide attempt that landed me in the hospital. I was so confused with the diagnosis because, my psychiatrist at the time wasn’t someone I particularly liked, and that’s due to her never giving me the feeling that she was actually listening.

After a few years, and having been in an inpatient treatment center, I began to understand where this disorder came from and which behaviours were inhibited by the disorder, and which were under my control.

I have moved away from home now, and haven’t been homeless in a year. Things are looking up for me, but I’ve lost such a fundamental part of my identity, I thought.

I didn’t realize it but, I identified with Borderline for so many years and, now that I’m no longer overly symptomatic, I don’t understand myself anymore. It’s as if a piece of me was robbed and my identity is dwindling in the air, waiting for someone to stick a new label onto it.

The loss of BPD means the loss of my extreme anger which fueled extreme motivation for this blog. It has ceased any sight of improvement and has left me quite empty.

When I identified with my diagnosis, I felt more complete. Everyday, I had a goal to overcome this fight, which has now just disappeared. It feels as though I have nothing to look forward to, and my creative spark has died due to this.

I’m not sure if my BPD has morphed into something entirely different; a lot more dangerous, or if it’s disintegrating along with any sense of self I had left. And I desperately don’t want the saying “You just grow out of it” to ring true to me and my situation. Was it my efforts and hard work that took me out of the self-destructive cycle, or did I grow out of it?

I can’t talk about Borderline recovery when I am not experiencing it, and I don’t know if I’m happy about feeling free from it yet…

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Disability Income Misconceptions

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Welfare and Disability seem to be taboo terms. There is no way of bringing it up into conversation without a stigmatized comment being proclaimed. Someone always has something to say about their preconceived notions of these income support cheques. Whether they don’t understand the reasoning or they choose not to, it doesn’t mean their opinion is fact. They may not know someone personally who is deemed disabled by the government, but these misconceptions and myths need to be debunked.


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You’re lazy. The general public sees this form of income as a way of cheating society and laying around doing nothing, without taking into consideration the reason someone may need to rely on these programs. When it comes to disability, despite some of us not being employed, the majority of us are not trying to abuse the system or sit down and let the money roll in; we understand what we’ve been given in respect to our disability.

A disabled person does not find happiness or glee in being couch-bound for days on end. We do not feel pride in the need to have government support. We do not want to flaunt our inability to work; we just strive to survive as comfortably as we can and obtain the services we need to hopefully, one day, not be considered disabled (if possible).

There are days that we cannot get up or function, especially when mentally ill. We spend our days trying to get by; survival is our biggest feat. We are in constant pain and turmoil, but we have drive and ambition, like the rest of humanity. Many of us are creative and productive folk; trying to contribute in our personal methods.

If a constant battle with ourselves is translated into laziness, we are not the problem. Not to mention, nobody would want to trade a few shifts a week for daily torture and self-doubt.

If we could work, we would. We want to be able to function along with society, but we can’t, and we need help. And honestly, that’s okay. There’s help for a reason.

You don’t deserve it. If we didn’t deserve it, and there wasn’t a reason for us to receive this money, we wouldn’t have been accepted in the disability support programs. Obviously, there is someone out there in these companies that believes our problems are valid, and affect our ability to be employed. Your opinion regarding our personal lives and income is none of our business.

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You can’t work. This is ultimately false, and is a statement some of us on disability may also believe true. Depending on the program or where you live/receive your income from, we are able to work. In Ontario, Canada, Ontario Disability Support Program allows its clients to work as much as they please, with acceptable deductions. Up to 2oo$ will go untouched, the rest will be divided in half, and you will be awarded 100$ for working.

Being on disability or welfare does not mean you can’t work; it means you need support to survive, and may not be able to work as often or frequently as someone who does not have a physical or mental illness. That being said, some people on disability cannot work at all, whilst some may work a 40 hour work week.

Only the physically disabled should have access. It would not be incorrect to state that the majority of people who believe this may also believe that mental illness is made up and inherently false. Mental illness can affect you as dangerously as physical illness, and cannot be compared on the same wave length. A mental illness, such as depression or schizophrenia, can be deadly and drive someone to commit suicide, or cause psychotic symptoms that cause danger to the individual and others.

Physical disability is as valid as mental disability, and cannot be swept under the rug for its physical nonappearance to the naked eye.

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You’re abusing the government and tax payers. No. There are reasons why these programs were put into place; the public needs the service. The government wouldn’t implement such a program for people when they don’t need it, just to lose money.

Tax is divided in the regions that need it; health care, education, construction, companies, etc. Disability income support happens to be one of those sections. Your taxes are going in various places, and even if you don’t agree with where they go, it is for the government to decide. As long as they deem the service is needed, it will continue to be funded and available to those who need it.

You can trick the system. To think that you can abuse a system that has been developing over years is ridiculous. When we apply for disability, it is a lengthy process. They look into your assets, your living arrangements, your past employment and have access to any records they need. You cannot complete the application without signing that consent, and it can only be assumed that revoking consent would revoke your income.


Being on disability does not define someone or throw them into a category, and to believe someone is something based on how they survive is ignorance.

We cannot remove stigma or teach those who do not want to be taught, but we can continue to try and reduce stigma in the best ways we know.

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Borderlines & Love At First Sight

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Love at first sight is the concept of falling in love with someone when we first meet them – quite self-explanatory. Mixing Borderline Personality Disorder with this concept can be detrimental and disastrous, especially one has not begun recovery. This is not to say Borderlines cannot fall in love quickly, nor that a newfound relationship can’t last, but mainly that it can, and most always is unhealthy.

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A prodominant trait about BPD is black and white thinking. This is applied to everyday situations, where the individual will only see something as all good or all bad; there rarely is an in-between. Our relationships are not safe from this, and often crumble on our part because of it.

Love at first sight is accompanied with the honeymoon phase. Everything seems to be going well. This partner is providing for us, willing to take long car rides to visit us, loves our favourite movies, can have meaningful conversation and is great in bed. We believe that we’ve never been with someone this amazing or loving, and could be convinced this person is the one.

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Taking this stance is idealization, and overly common in BPD. We are looking through a positive lens, and any bad trait is not apparent to us yet. Somehow, we are capable to ignore the bad, or it just hasn’t been presented to us yet. We become enamored with their personality, their looks and their willingness to be there for us. Negativity seems impossible, and we have set high expectations that no person could ever meet, setting ourselves up for failure.

It is quite possible that, with such a short period of time, they’ve been in a good mood and have only been showing their positive traits, but as things settle down and they realize it is getting serious, that front comes down. Humanity comes through.

Maybe they are loud-mouthed, have disagreeable opinions, spend too much time away from home for your liking, participate in a lifestyle you do not approve of or have other traits you are not fond of. It is human to have these traits and is, for the most part, okay. But, not for someone with BPD.

For someone with Borderline, this person has changed. Their personality was faked, and they’ve been dishonest. We feel tricked. We fell in love mindlessly without taking into consideration the humanity of this person. We have fooled ourselves into a fantasy that can never become reality.

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We begin to realize that this person was never and will never be all good. They become all bad. They’ve rubbed us the wrong way. Next thing you know, we’ve cut them out, and moved on; ready for another black and white heart-break.


Breaking black and white thinking:

To change our habit of black and white thinking, we must break the habitual cycle.

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Challenge it. Try to view things from a different perspective. Observe a friend; notice how they have good qualities and bad qualities. Maybe you feel they don’t listen to people enough, but they have always been there for you. Anytime you catch yourself thinking  in extremes, remind yourself that this is not the full person and that they are not “all” anything.

Step back. Catch yourself when you start idealizing someone. Take a step back and consider why. Is it happening because of a recent tragic event, a vulnerable emotion, adrenaline or it being a newfound experience? Begin to understand your personal reasons for letting yourself idealize someone and let yourself down with unattainable expectations.

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Accept reality. Understand humanity. People are good and bad. They may be a good listener, but make selfish decisions. They may believe racism is wrong, but still act in homophobic ways. They may give you a gift, but talk behind your back. It doesn’t mean any of these things are right or wrong, but it’s important to accept that everyone has their quirks and edges, that no person is perfect or will ever be perfect. Accept that other people make mistakes, too; whether they are sick or not. Even in the happiest relationships, the couple makes sacrifices regarding the things they don’t like about one another. It is not your responsibility to love or hate everything about anyone.

Practice. Attempt to look at things in a gray perspective. Observe others, locations, systems, political views, art pieces and yourself. Practicing to view yourself in an objective manner may actually build self-acceptance and understanding. When you accept that you are human; that you have qualities and faults, you may begin to love yourself, and accept others for their imperfections. Disappointment and let-downs will be lesser.

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As you gain experience with these techniques, a spectrum of shades will be apparent to you; you will be able to be more critical and objective in relationships, understanding the difference between your behaviours and develop a positive outlook on relationships. You will become more tolerable of people and their faults, making your love life go smoother as partners will feel accepted and understood by you.

You must remember that this takes time. You cannot possibly expect yourself to be great at this skill overnight. Allow yourself to grow slowly, at your own pace, with no pressure.

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Bell Let’s Talk – What Is It? Why Is It Important?

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Bell Let’s Talk is an annual event and campaign that began in September, 2010, that Bell started to try to raise awareness about mental illness, reduce stigma and encourage people to talk about mental illness. For every use of their hashtag on specific social media platforms, making phone calls and texting, or other interactions, they will donate 5¢  to fund mental illness research and services in the country of Canada. Bell is the largest company to step in, speak out about mental illness and create a movement for the community.

In 2015, they increased their campaign to 2020, where they commit to donating up to 10 million dollars in regards to mental illness. On January 27, 2016, Bell donated over 6 million dollars based on the near 126 million long distance and mobile phone calls, texts, tweets and Facebook shares. Currently, Bell’s total donations stand at 79,919,178.55$ as of 2016.

Hopefully, this year, we can exponentially increase the funding, have open discussions about mental illness, and end the stigma.


How can you help this year?

All day, Bell will donate 5¢ to mental health initiatives for every:
• Text message sent by Bell and Bell Aliant customers
• Mobile and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers
• Tweet and Instagram post using #BellLetsTalk
• View of the official Bell Let’s Talk Day video on Facebook
• Snap using the official Bell Let’s Talk Snapchat filter

(Join the event on Facebook: Bell Let’s Talk Day Event)


Why is this such a phenomenal movement?

Mental illness has always had a stigma cloud that followed it, where people aren’t entirely understanding or compassionate towards others because of their illnesses. It is often a topic for jokes and put downs, where the joke is at someone’s emotional expense. Though the stigma has reduced over the years, thanks to Bell Let’s Talk and other mental health movements, it isn’t gone. People with mental illness are still being degraded, disrespected, turned away by doctors, deemed unworthy of medical attention and completely ignored by the public.

When the conversation is closed, people bottle up their emotions and feel that their feelings are not valid. The further this happens, the more individuals isolate themselves and feel embarrassed to open up, the more suicides continue to happen. No one truly wants to die; they are hoping their pain will stop.

The majority of society acts as if mental illness isn’t a part of their everyday life, when 1 in 5 Canadians struggles with some form of mental illness. These people are in your life, in your schools, at your work, on the streets, in hospitals, in your home, in your family, in your social groups… They are your parents, your grandparents, your siblings, your aunts, your uncles, your friends, your enemies, your acquaintances, strangers… They are everywhere, living normal lives, with not so normal symptoms. Mental illness is THAT common.

A large majority assumes that the mentally ill can only be categorized by schizophrenics, psychotics, and those with bipolar. Those conditions are very hard to live with, accompanied by delusions, voices and uncontrollable emotional levels (and should not be stigmatized), but are not the only ones. Mental illness is much more. It’s depression, anxiety, personality disorders, variations of eating disorders, variations of body-focused repetitive behaviours, and many other, rather uncommon categorizations. It is possible that you may have a mental illness without being aware of it. Mental illness does not make you “crazy” or “psycho”.

It’s time that we, as a society, open up the conversation for mental health, learn about the different conditions and how they affect people, and urge to reduce the stigma in our everyday lives.

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My Borderline; The Phone Call that Changed my Life

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Maybe I called him because I was lonely, or maybe it was because of habit. I don’t remember why, but I was angry. Another Borderline episode, I thought (and chose not to fight). Horrendously tearing him apart limb from limb, I was somehow still surprised when he said he wanted to leave. The aggressive beast calmed down and regressed to a sweet and gentle voice with innocent intentions.

I softly begged him to stay.

“Please stay… I love you. I need you. I’m sorry.”

Anything I could say to make him stay; empty apologies and promises I probably couldn’t keep.

We discussed a life together and what that would look like. Pure dedication and devotion to one another in different ways. A possible promise to be together forever. But, how could I trust him when no else could be trusted in the past? I told him I loved him endlessly and that I was willing to sacrifice anything to be with him, which are serious, outrageous statements.

He could tell something was wrong, because he questioned the authenticity of my claims and feelings. He wasn’t sure if they were honest and genuine from a loving standpoint, or blurted to keep him around. I was just saying this to make him stay. To avoid another period of abandonment.

I retracted my statement and crumbled apart hysterically.

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My Borderline is a puppet mastermind with forceful grips around the reins. It lives inside of my head and I am but its puppet. It controls my movement and thoughts, creating a volatile beast I never thought I’d be. It has the control I will never obtain. I can fight as hard as I want, but my Borderline is always there, fighting harder than I ever could. It’s angry, ferocious and lets loose on the closest ones to me. And sometimes, I don’t want to fight it. It feels good to feed it.

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I remembered how I had read that Borderline is caused by the lack of emotional maturity. The emotional coping factors didn’t grow with time or puberty. Trauma and distress caused it to slow down, if not halt. I compared myself to a little girl, who keeps falling and scraping her knees and cries. It’s the same situation every time, but she still cries; it hurts all the same. That knee scrape is agonizing because it is all she knows. I experience angsty periods of instability like a teenager beginning puberty. I can be healthy and respond in adult ways, but the majority of the time, I don’t. I may embody a 18 year old girl on the surface, working a job and finding her independence, but my emotional range is between toddler and pre-teen.

I’ve been on autopilot for so many years to keep me away from trauma and stay in a safe environment. So much so that I haven’t realized all the time that’s passed. I am not awake. Not alive. Not whole. Everything I do is mindless, out of focus and done without knowledge. Things that take extra thought aren’t rationally thought through, and I barely realize when they’re over. Days go by without notice, and I try to escape to a better place I can barely recall. My emotions haven’t gotten to mature because they haven’t been in control. It’s on a reaction basis of a child.

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That instability can be incredibly addictive with an intense high. I can thrive on drama and out of the ordinary situations, and come out satisfied. I may not be entirely happy, but my Borderline is in euphoria. When I cry, my Borderline is ecstatic. When I’m having a fit and my lungs are rapidly  expanding, it’s on the edge of its seat, with roaring cheers. My Borderline lives within me, and it’s my drug.

My Borderline can’t get enough of the chaos, the crying, the tantrums and scars. “More!”, it cries out, despite my body being on the brink of exhaustion. It wants fire, water and earth; it wants the multiplications of forces. There is no gentle, there is only vulnerability. There is no sadness, there is only detrimental depression. There is no anger, there are only countless grudges and violent urges. There is no balance in my Borderline.

Fighting it isn’t satisfying. It never congratulates me, and I need its approval. It owns me, and controls everything about me. It has ruined who I once was, and I don’t know who I am anymore…

Crying out “Don’t leave me!” leaves a burning flame inside my chest. It stings; it hurts. But, for some reason, it holds comfort. I’ve been repeatedly exposed to abandonment that, crying that out feels like a warm blanket. It feels so good to moan that out, despite the burning and the tears streaming from my eyes. My Borderline is watching attentively and making it worse.

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Borderline stole the fundamental things that made me MJ, the most vital aspects of my personality. The real me loves dancing, music and writing. She is vocal, popular and loved. She is innocent, brave and confident. My Borderline has left me untrustworthy, despicable, pathetic and sad, turning to a blade at the first negative thought.

Anytime I’ve turned to suicide, I always thought that, even after death, I’d still be alive somehow. It was clear to me.

I realized that I never wanted to kill MJ… I was trying to kill the Borderline for killing who I was. MJ was perfectly fine, functional and was facing success; a bright future ahead of her. Somehow, she came in contact with Borderline, and maybe they fell in love. Borderline murdered her, and I don’t think I’ll ever find her again. Out for revenge, I tried to kill the Borderline, which happened to live inside of me…

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My Borderline is to me what a murderer is to a victim’s family. It is the ultimate portrayal of the devil; no good can come from it. Though, a murderer is a physical being that can be locked away in a prison; my Borderline is a rampant mental illness that cannot be seen, caged or taken down easily.

I wonder if my Borderline ever thought that it was strong enough to take me down. Maybe the countless suicide attempts was a war between the rest of me against the disorder. Brawling viciously, we tried to kill each other, all in one entity and body. I was the only victim.

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My Borderline is a control freak with skewed perceptions that it tries to implant into me. It swings puppet strings violently and thinks it can control me; a mastermind of instability. It feels unstoppable and invincible. It has no care in the world for repercussions or consequences, because they don’t negatively affect it. I can’t function in the simplest of situations. It’s erratic and frantic, always on the edge of panic attacks. It raises a hand at the ones I love, and swallows bottles of pills when it wants me gone.

I hate it. I hate how I’ve lost years of my life to this autopilot lifestyle. I didn’t realize the countless losses caused by this disorder and the force it had in my life. I knew it was awful, and made me sick, but not to that extent. I didn’t know it had killed me internally.

I cried like a baby, clinging to blankets and teddy bears. A vulnerable presentation of my life left me restless and exhausted, but I knew my disorder much better. I found its breaking point, the target to strike and where it hurts the most. With the raise of a closed fist, I will destroy my Borderline Personality Disorder.

I will recover.

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Understanding Self Harm; What Is It?

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Self-harm is the act of self-mutilation, where an individual purposefully harms themselves in hopes to alleviate stress, emotional pain, trauma, depressive feelings or find control. A large number of self-harmers are approaching or are in adolescence; using these methods to cope with new emotions, mental illnesses and overwhelming situations, though many are adults or progress into adulthood with these maladaptive coping skills. Some self-harm for short periods of time or in crisis, whilst others may become fully addicted or may not know that they are self-harming because the method isn’t widely known.

Self-mutilation is not a suicide attempt; it is a maladaptive coping strategy to find control in out-of-control situations and can be replaced by healthy ones. The individual self-harming is struggling and needs professional help. They may use a combination of self-harming methods.


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Cutting. Cutting is the most well-known self-harming coping mechanism and has been widespread on the internet over the last few years. It is the most heard of the bunch.

Most adolescents turn to cutting to cope with dysfunctional families, bullying, trauma, schooling and overwhelming feelings, though adults do also partake in this method. The act of cutting releases endorphins to the brain to deal with the emotional and physical pain, giving the cutter a high. It’s an exciting rush, followed by a sense of relief from what’s bothering them.

Cutting is often assumed as suicidal behaviour when, in actuality, it’s a very common way people cope with issues. The blood and mutilation factor frightens caregivers who feel they may have to bring their child to the hospital for an attempt, which is not a necessity.

It is important that, if the cutter chooses to continue, they use clean materials and clean their wounds to avoid infection and STD transmittal (as it can be deadly). They must monitor themselves; if they cut too deep, they need to request medical attention, as an excessive loss of blood can kill them.

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Burning. Burning is frequently used in combination with cutting. The individual takes a hot object and holds it to their skin until it cools down and a wound is formed. Some may use hot baths or tap water instead, which may not leave a mark, but is as serious. These burn wounds may bubble up and “pop”, oozing a liquid; it is important for the person self-harming to monitor this wound and ensure bacteria doesn’t contaminate.

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Scratching/Pinching. Someone may choose to scratch at their skin until blood surfaces for a quick sense of relief. This could be an occasional thing, develop into dermatillomania or be dermatillomania.

Dermatillomania (Excoriation Disorder or Skin Picking Disorder) is when the individual has an incessant need to scratch and pick at “imperfections” resulting in worsened bumps, wounds, acne or infection. This disorder can be combated through therapy and extreme efforts, but is not always noticed by the one doing it.

There is a difference between choosing to do it, and having a disorder. Someone with dermatillomania will scratch or pick during anxious or tense situations, but may not notice, while someone who is picking occasionally is constantly doing it on purpose. It must be monitored as the occasional behaviour can evolve into a disorder as they grow unaware of their actions, and lean on picking to cope. It becomes second nature.

Wound Interference. This ties in with dermatillomania and skin picking. The individual repeatedly picks at scabs which result in either blood or scars.

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Hair Pulling. Hair pulling is because of a disorder called trichotillomania; a compulsive desire to pull out ones hair. The puller may notice bald patches from continuous pulling, self-esteem issues, and hair follicle changes (hairs growing in curly, thin or odd colours). Constantly pulling out one’s hair can increase anxiety, and affect their confidence, usually accompanied by depression. They may find flaws in specific hairs and feel that they do not belong, resulting in pulling it out.

Trich falls under the same umbrella as dermatillomania, (Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour/BFRB) and is not always intentional. With over exposure to pulling, they become dependent on it and may not notice themselves acting out, and can be so severe that they pull in their sleep.

Photo: © Europen Parliament/P.Naj-Oleari
pietro.naj-oleari@europarl.europa.eu

Drugs/Alcohol. Substance abuse starts off as using drugs and alcohol to cope. Someone may reach for a bottle when they are upset to “lose themselves”. With repetitive use, they will become heavily addicted and full-fledged alcoholics or drug addicts.

Their body will be tolerant of the substance and require higher doses for the same effect, develop a psychological and physical dependency where they may not be able to function without it as their body and mind experience withdrawal, and addiction. Addiction is the compulsive need for the substance and effort required to avoid or reduce usage.

Depending on the substance, risks include:

  • STDs from needles and injectors
  • Irregular heart rate or heart failure
  • Infertility
  • Lung damage
  • Memory loss
  • Periods of psychosis and disconnection from self
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure
  • Irritability, anxiety, jumpiness, sweating and shaking
  • Violence
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

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Hitting. Hitting involves violence towards oneself, where the individual hits and punches themselves for relief. This can result in bruises and painful areas.

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Disordered Eating Behaviours. Disordered eating is a common gateway to eating disorders. They feel they have lost control when it comes to food or their body, finding flaws in their figure or eating patterns. There are heavy influences in media and they could turn to Pro Anorexia Websites for tips on weight loss. Disordered eating can be controlled and restrictive (anorexia), strictly healthy foods only (othorexia), use of laxatives and vomiting after binging (bulimia), over eating (binge eating) and other, personalized methods.

This behaviour must be heavily monitored as a traumatic change in diet can remove years off their life, become extreme with no way back or fatal. They must seek out medical attention and learn not to use food to cope. The recovery process is not short and may take years; it’s best to catch and treat it early.


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“Suicide Attempts” (Testing the Grounds). These types of suicidal behaviours are parasuicidal, meaning it is suicidal in its nature, but suicide wasn’t the intent. This is very common with individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as they experience chronic suicidal feelings and use this to cope. They do not wish to die, but to control an out-of-control situation. Facing death but not dying can be satisfying to some.


Remember: Self-harm is used to gain control in out-of-control situations. It isn’t use to get back at or punish anybody.

Self-mutilation should be avoided, discouraged and discussed in therapy. Overcoming self-harm will take time, but can be done when trauma, pain and other factors are discussed, and healthier coping mechanisms are implemented. When an urge arises, they should consider journaling, going for a walk, drawing, calling a friend, etc. Constant denial to these urges will improve their quality of life, as they ween off of their need.

Relapse is inevitable, but self-mutilation can be conquered.

If you are a worried guardian or friend, do not demean them. It may not seem logical to you, but it is necessary you open the conversation, lend an ear once in a while, and tell them that it is acceptable to talk about self-harm. If you use it against them, they will lean on the behaviour more, and could hurt themselves further. Don’t overreact, don’t under react. Finding a balance can be complicated, but worth it. They are dealing with a serious problem and need your support.