Sometimes I act Crazy: Impulsivity and Self Harm

August 26, 2010


I am currently reading Sometimes I act Crazy. I am up to the chapter on the impulsitvity of borderlines and it explained that the difference in impulsivity with self harm is that with borderline it is mostly triggered by a dissapointment and not random. I thought that sounded very true, I don’t usually self harm without some kind of disappointment or feeling of abandonment. Although, in a way it made it sound like with other illnesses self harm is random, which I didn’t feel fair. But I wouldn’t know. My dad’s form of self harm is picking at wounds so they don’t heal, bad personal hygiene and just general not caring for himself. Which is definately different to mine. As mine is “planned”. I decide I’m going to do it, whereas neglect of hygeine and skin picking isn’t neccesarily decided upon, you just do it when you’re not feeling too good, out of laziness or just not caring.

I know I write about self harm a lot but so many people misunderstand. It is better that summer is almost over as I can don a cardigan all the time and not boil but sometimes I feel I shouldn’t be ashamed and go out without one anyway. I’m not neccasarily trying to show off my scars but I don’t want to have to hide myself just incase someone wants to judge me. In a way I hope someone who sees my scars will want to know why and maybe look up self harm online and even educate themselves, but I guess that might be wishful thinking and they will think I’m disturbed.

I remember when my aunt, who works as a receptionist at the child and family clinic, said to me “have you ever heard of something called cutting?” I looked at her confused and said of course I have. I was in shock that she had never heard of self harm or even knew that some people hurt themselves when depressed. She then asked if I I’d ever done and oddly I said in a cheerful voice yeah, as if I was stating the obvious. She was in shock when she saw my arms and I felt like saying “it’s not a big deal” because to me, it doesn’t feel like a big deal. I could be hurting my internal with drugs and alcohol instead. But it seems more acceptable to do that. When I see someone who has SH scars, I smile sadly. I’m not happy that they’re self harming but that they are not ashamed of their pain and that they are still here is enough. It makes me feel less alone. I want to say to them, “we can do this together”. And we can.



  1. It’s like BPD 101 in a GP’s surgery … have you got scars? *RED EMERGENCY LIGHT FLASHES ON SCREEN*

    You must be “A Borderline” … it’s all downhill from here, we can’t treat you with meds, therapy is sporadic and not that great and generally welcome to the rest of your life with a death sentence hanging over your head in the form of chronic suicidality.

    However, you make an excellent point that self~harm is not just physcial cutting ~ it is also drinking, self~medicating, restricting/bingeing eating … they’re all the same. In fact there’s a video we’re in the midst of making about just that ~ how self~harm isn’t just about what we see on the arms. You can be a full blown BPD (like me) and not have a single scratch. Simply because they’re all on the inside, scarring our liver/heart/stomach instead.

    Does any of that make sense? x

  2. Yep definately, I noticed that about people at the meet up, some people had scars and some didn’t but I knew that just because some didn’t have scars it didn’t mean that they weren’t ill or that they were a better form of BPD as any of the rest of us.

    It surprises me the amount of people that have MH problems smoke, so many do and isn’t that a self harm too? I’m not saying I didn’t love the look of colourful cigarettes that were being passed around but It’s something I’ve always noticed of people with mental health problems xx

  3. When I was in Hospital I’m pretty sure both of the psychdoc’s I met thought I was BPD (for one reason they asked me screening q’s that had questions that were obviously for BPD. For example: Do you have chromic feelings of emptiness?) and I feel that the only reason for this is because 1) none of them read my freaking notes sent from my usual pdoc and 2) I self harm and am girl so *clearly* I *must* be borderline.

    I purposefully cut only my legs so that it is easier to hide… which leaves me wearing pants or tights all summer -boiling, or never being able to go to the beach lest I feel like dealing with what happens when people see. But I also purposefully only use scissors so that I can’t really do any unintentional damage. And I seem to only start doing it when I rather unwell, or things get really overwhelming one way or the other, up or down. When I’m most depressed, yes it is an outlet for the depression, but it also keeps me from killing myself as it can be a great relief and give me some kind of ‘well at least I’ve done something shitty to myself’ satisfaction.

  4. That’s a great point you make about the cutting is self harm that is less acceptable, but usually less damaging than the socially “okay” ways-drugs, alcohol etc.. Shows us how ignorant and thoughtless people allow themselves to be. Not that I’m promoting self harm in any shape or form. But, as I know, especially since you’re so young-I’m old-45, it feels like something you must do. I’m BP II and suffered from Trich. for most of my life. That’s got some self harm issues in it. Effexor and relaxation exercises have put me in full remission on the hair pulling.

    I wanted to add that I’ve recently read and I wish I could remember where-probably Scientific American Mind, but Borderline personality disorder is becoming more understood. And, the prognosis is a lot better than they once thought. I mean really better! I’ll have to find the article.
    Great post.

  5. Ok, I agree with everybody who replied, self harm is not the only way you can damage yourself. I am an alcoholic, and I have many scars from cutting. And I agree that cutting is usually triggered, I don’t personally know anyone who cuts because it is fun. I don’t like to drink, but the drink makes me feel numb so I can’t feel anything therefore I do it. Every scar has a story, all of mine do. It has been a few years since I did any cutting however I am in a bad boat because I can’t stop drinking, been on and off the wagon for 2 years now, constant struggle. Good Post.

  6. Just found this because someone clicked on the link to my blog from here. I’m very interested in how we work with people who harm themselves (on the whole I think we’re pretty poor at it) and I value input from people who need services.

    So, I hope you won’t mind me plugging my own blog but I’ve written a series of posts on self harm and also borderline personality disorder (the two are often thought of jointly). I’d appreciate people’s thoughts.

    Also there’s a free PDF of thecentire series available. Just ask.

    It starts here:




  7. excellent post! I self harm – smoking – and I realise it is exactly that … just because the scars are on my lungs doesnt mean they aren’t there …

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