Today’s post is an emotional one. It is a possible trigger for some. However, it is one of those issues that cannot and should not be ignored. Maybe today’s post will help you or someone you know.
I was going through some old boxes. I found my old poetry and drawings. I have not looked at stuff in close to ten years. My heart stopped for a second. I remembered what my poetry was like – I may not remember word for word – but I do remember pieces of different poems.
I used my poetry as a way to let my emotions out. Instead of keeping a journal, I would write poems. I would draw pictures.
I opened my sketch book. I read one poem and tears began to sting my eyes. I started looking at the drawings. I started to feel sick to my stomach. The first drawing I seen was a picture of a female sitting with her face buried in her hands. She is crying. Her body is bruised and bloody. Another drawing is a full-length self portrait. Funny thing is I look exactly the same now. However, the drawing had dark red “x” marking out parts of me. It included words to describe myself – all negative and hateful. The final drawing I looked at, before I had to close the book, was a suicide drawing.
The drawings were gorgeous – I can tell I had spent a lot of time and effort into them. I don’t draw any more, and when I do my drawings are cute and colorful. I don’t spend hours and days on a single drawing. Instead, I spend a few minutes. Drawing now is quality time with my kid.
I don’t write poetry anymore. I remember after having my daughter, trying to write and I couldn’t. I had spent years writing these dark, depressing poems and after I had her I just wanted joy and happiness.
I am debating on sharing some of my poetry on here. I have not decided yet.
If I do share my poetry, or even drawings, maybe it will continue to help the healing process. Maybe it will help someone else out there.
On the other hand, it is triggering. I would hate to give someone ideas of ways to harm them self. Ironically, I got the idea of burning myself after watching a movie on TV. I had been cutting myself for years. I watched a movie on TV and the character also self-injured, and I got an idea for another method.
First off, I want to make it clear that people who suffer from eating disorders and/or self-injuring behaviors are not attention seekers. Don’t think that. And please don’t not do anything because you think you are giving them the attention they are seeking. Through my lifetime, so many people knew what I was doing but they looked the other way for whatever reason. Maybe they were scared. Maybe they thought it was a phase. Maybe they were afraid if they talked to me about it then I would get worse. Maybe they honestly did not know what I was doing, but they knew something was wrong.
Second, if you do try to step in and help be prepared for them to be hateful and to push you away. This is a self-defense tactic. They will say they are fine. They will say they don’t want help or need help. Please be persistent!! I had a couple of people tell me I need to eat, or ask when was the last time I ate. I had one tell me not to cut because she was afraid that I would cut too deep. However, they were not persistent. These are habits, they are hard to break. It takes support to stop. One thing I can say positive about my ex-husband was he was persistent. I remember one time him even following me into the bathroom when I was going to purge. I couldn’t do it in front of him. Now, granted he did not understand why I did it – eating disorders or the self-injury – but he was there. He handled it wrong – telling me it was “crazy” behavior. But I had someone there. I had that support. I did want that support. I needed that support.
Third, know what to look for and how to start the conversation. Eating disorders – some common signs are obviously change in weight. Also, look for going to the toilet after eating. Turning the sink or shower on while in the bathroom. Cuts or marks on the knuckles. Playing with food – cutting it into small pieces, pushing it around the plate. Self-injury – wearing long sleeves or pants, even when the weather is hot. Also, watch for a change in behavior and mood.
So, you notice a sign but what do you say? Honestly, just open the conversation by saying something like “are you okay?” or “do you want to talk?” I didn’t have anyone start the conversation with me. Remember to listen. Don’t judge. Don’t think that if you talk about it then it is going to make it worse. It is when you try to stop them or prevent them from doing it is when the behaviors get worse.
Now, I am not an expert or trained in any of this. This is information from my own personal experience. I know what it is like to suffer from both eating disorders and self-injuring. I know what happened in my experiences. I know what I wished others had done, but didn’t. I also know what my triggers were.
I know it was a personal choice to start – at the time it felt like my only choice. It was also a personal choice to stop. It is a personal choice daily not to fall back into old habits. I have to look at my scars daily. I have to keep my scars covered because I am ashamed and embarrassed. I have to fight my issue with food daily. I have to relive what it is like to live with hunger pains daily and I remember what I felt like being a teenager and going days without eating. I have to remember I am a role model for my daughter. I have to show her how to have a positive relationship with food, and a positive self-image/ self-esteem.
If you know someone who needs help, talk to them. If you are able to relate to any of this, please find a trusted person and talk to them.