The Enemy Within

Score: +3

I feel like looking back at my past tonight. I had an opportunity to reflect on my progression as a person over the last (nearly) year. Some radical things have happened to me: I went from a being driven inward by self hate to a person who genuinely respects who he is. I went from having $0 in the bank to fully self-sufficient financially. I have emerged from a negative pattern and hopped the rails to a new, promising destination. It took a total psychological breakdown to achieve this change, mind you, and reaching rock bottom if there ever was such a thing. I regret hating myself the way I did. It made me a vicious and frustrated person, who largely resented the world. I look back on who I was then and I can understand why I was there and because of destructive circumstances.

I have something I’d like to tell you about what it’s like to really, truly, hate yourself: I have mutilated my body, on more than 10 occasions, creating gaping wounds in my flesh that take weeks to heal. I used to remove cysts with a pair of toenail clippers, slowly tearing away the flesh around them until they could be extracted. The clippers are a deadly digging tool. You wouldn’t think it, looking at them, but a great deal of pressure can be applied to their blades, and evenly. I would throw whole rolls of toilet paper soaked in my own blood away, flushing them down into secrecy. I would leave no trace of my crime, but for the bandaid or gauss patch covering the wound. Sometimes, I would chew and destroy all the tender inner wall of my lower lip. I would rip segments of it away by pinching them with two sharp teeth, then ripping chunks off by peeling them free. I had open, bleeding wounds in my mouth, for days or weeks, on multiple occasions.

I really didn’t have the ability to inhibit myself. I can’t remember ever thinking “hey, maybe I should stop this because now I’m injured.” I just got out of control. I did it until I felt like whatever thing I had originally set out to remove from underneath my skin was gone. I have done this to my own face… scarred myself, permanently. I guess I just lost inhibition because I didn’t care about the consequences of hurting my body. It was irrelevant. It didn’t matter, because I didn’t care.

That level of destructive thinking will eventually drive you to contemplate larger forms of self injury, and the bridge to accepting suicide as an option gets more real. It becomes plausible that if you are freely willing to maim yourself for weeks at a time, then slitting your own wrist wouldn’t actually be that difficult. And it would be over in a few minutes.

I encountered the end of this line of thinking. It concludes in an attempt at self destruction. I was at that point, about a year ago. I had annihilated my life. At some point, I came to realize that I would have to learn how to respect myself, and make my mental health the top priority of my life from now on, if ever anything was to change. Hating myself goes nowhere. Believing in myself could lead me just about anywhere.

And I would have to defeat (the negative thinking, not the symptoms) depression with facts; proofs that I was worth something. That even in light of my transgressions, that I should still find cause to hope. I am a human being and nothing is going to change what I have done; I can only decide what to do next. And with each day, I try to take a step to establish self love and pride in the man I am becoming. I don’t need to blather on about my success, it’s evident by the volume of content here at Neurochemically Challenged.

I wanted you to know how I have changed. I don’t hurt myself anymore, at all. I even use my toenail clippers for the purpose they are intended for. I faced my demons and they were the ones who backed down. There is no temptation to return to a negative pattern. I have moved to a new understanding of how to think about myself. And for the better. Clearly.