I have bipolar disorder and self-harm urges. No, this doesn’t mean my diagnosis is wrong, it just means that I happen to have a mental health issue outside of my bipolar diagnosis. But let me be clear: I deny my self-harm urges. Even though I want to hurt myself, I don’t. But this hurts. If the only thing in the world that you wanted to do had to be denied, wouldn’t it hurt you, too?
Bipolar and Wanting to Self-Harm
For me, I want to self-harm when I’m in a mixed mood really, really badly. Maybe this is because mixed moods are hell and there is nothing that seems to make them better outside of as-needed benzodiazepine medications, and I can’t very go around taking those all the time.
I suspect it’s also because psychomotor agitation comes along with mixed moods in a really big way and that kind of internal vibration of sandpaper just makes me want to peel off my skin. And I think my head says that this bipolar symptom would be solved with self-harm. And likely it would be, for a while, anyway.
Bipolar and Denying Self-Harm Hurts
But here’s the thing, denying self-harm — the thing that I think might actually relieve some of the pain I’m in — hurts. (Yes, I get that many of you won’t understand why hurting yourself would relieve pain but just take it on faith for a moment that it does.)
Bipolar mixed moods and psychomotor agitation make self-harm the only thing I want to do. I sit here, and it’s all I can think about. I try to distract myself, of course, but it sits there in the back of my mind. It feels like the self-harm urge is sitting next to the bipolar symptoms and laughing at me and making it worse. When I have to deny the only thing I want to do it’s excruciating. (I suspect it’s how addicts feel when they can’t have their substance of choice, but I don’t know that personally.)
The Urge to Self-Harm and Bipolar
But even though I want to very, very, very much, I don’t self-harm. I know the urge to self-harm is from bipolar symptoms creating pain and I know that self-harm is, at best, a temporary relief of that pain. The bipolar symptoms aren’t going anywhere, no matter what self-harm I theoretically chose to employ. I think I just want an award for denying something that feels as necessary as air. Or maybe a cookie.
Check out Natasha Tracy’s book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar and connect with her on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.
Image by Dreamworks (www.hollywoodlife.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.