Hidden Self-Injury Tools

I should preface this post by mentioning that I don’t feel self-injury is inherently bad, it can be helpful so I find efforts of others to prevent me from doing it frustrating. You might with to read my other post about self injury first.

When I began self-injuring I also began hiding tools to accomplish it. This way I would always have access should I feel the need. Safety pins were hidden in most articles of my clothing. I had a pencil case filled with razor blades and bloody gauze.

In my first hospitalization I secretly brought in a safety pin. A small item I impulsively decided to hide when I realized what was happening. Turned out this was unnecessary.

They did an awful job of searching my things. When my searched bag was handed to me the first thing I did was open a compartment and pull out a brand new razor blade. My roommate had packed the bag and handed it to my parents. The razor blade had been left in the bag previously.

To make it seem I was healthier than I was I promptly handed the razor to the mental health worker who had given me the bag. My manipulation was wasted. This interaction was never entered into my records and I don’t believe he told anyone because it was him who had missed the blade in the search.
Upon later inspection I realized all of my buttons (the kind with little sayings on them and pins on the back) had been left on my bag. I had accumulated a very large assortment of sharp items.

Initially I had decided I would respect the rules of the hospital and not self injure while there, but after a series of frustrations with the hospital I decided there was no reason for that.
I scratched up my arm a bit one day. Hardly any damage, it’s tough to do much with a pin. I didn’t hide it but also didn’t show it off. It was noticed and I handed over some of the pins.
A threat was made, “Is this everything? We can search all your things again if you want”
“Search if you want too”, I said
I made good eye contact. They bought my pretend confidence.
Later, feeling manipulative again I walked to the nurses station with a pin and said, “Here, I found this in my room”
The nurse made a big fuss about how proud of me she was, not knowing I still had my original safety pin. This was entered in my notes.
I scratched a bit at times following and was not caught.

In the weeks preceding my second hospitalization I knew I was feeling unstable. I had destructive plans running through my head with no specific time set.
In the event that I needed to be hospitalized I decided I should ensure I would have materials to self-injure with in the hospital. I hid razor blades in many items that are always on my person.
Sure enough when I was rushed to the ER I had a nice assortment of sharp new blades. None were found during the search. No one expects the lengths I went to conceal them.
I had quite the stash of blades. I cut a lot during that hospitalization and was not caught.
The closest I came was when I was cutting and punching a wall in the shower. The wall punching made more noise than I anticipated and nurses came barging into the bathroom. Fortunately through feigned modesty and angling my body in ways to hide the cuts, I was able to get enough privacy to get clothing on without being caught. I admitted to the wall punching but the cutting and razor blade were not discovered.

On the day I was being discharged, minutes before I left, I passed a clean new blade to a friend I’d met there. She’d mentioned wanting to cut and being friendly I decided to help her out. It’s a fuzzy moral area for me. It’s one thing for me to cut. I know I won’t go too deep, but other people are uncontrolled variables.
Later I heard she cut up her arm pretty badly and was discovered. She wouldn’t give up my name though when the psychiatrist was demanding the information from her.

At my third hospitalization I also arrived well armed with razor blades. The ER room I sat in had a spare unused blood draw kit. I was bored with making balloons out of latex gloves so I took it and hid it for later.
An accomplishment I shouldn’t be proud of but am is that during this hospitalization I cut in the shower while on one to one security. Meaning, I had a person who’s sole job was to babysit me and make sure I didn’t do these sorts of things and still managed to not get caught.
I tried to draw blood with the blood kit. I thought it would be neat to try and bleed until I passed out. I was doing it wrong. It didn’t work. I tried calling a friend with a history of heroin abuse (the same one who I gave the blade to the previous hospitalization) I thought maybe she would have advice regarding sticking a needle in an arm. She didn’t answer the phone.
I later learned those kits are set up to only work when the blood tube is attached. I didn’t have any tubes.

I was trying to express to the doctors how not okay I was. I gave them useless the blood kit and some of the razors that had become rusty from the shower. I wanted them to know what I’d been up to. It didn’t work. I was discharged the next day despite still being very suicidal. First thing I did upon arriving home was OD on a bunch of pills.

Having so many sharp things hidden in my possession makes airplane travel very stressful. I’m fine with sneaking sharps into a hospital, but not fine with sneaking them onto a plane. The consequences of being caught in the hospital are very low, but being caught with it at an airport is serious business. Before a trip I have to carefully comb through every single possible hiding spot and remove the blades. There are so many I don’t remember them all. I’m incredibly anxious while going through security. I worry if i missed one.
To make matters worse I nearly always have my bag searched additionally. I travel with at least three cameras on the average trip, along with assorted other electronic devices. No matter how I pack these items, my bag appears suspicious under X-ray.
Fortunately it appears I’ve never accidentally left a razor blade behind in my bag, but it continues to be a source of worry every time.

If you are someone who works at a hospital I hope you don’t take out of this post that security needs to be drastically upped for everyone. I think a better message is that if a person wants to do something badly enough they will find a way to do it. Also it is important to note, that most of the in hospital self injury I did was directly following attempts to reach out to staff for help verbally that were unsuccessful.

Buzzers

I hate when therapists have a buzzer that I need to ring to gain access to their office.
I generally have a bit of pre-therapy anxiety, the buzzer exacerbates the situation.

I hate being late for things, but I also have a rule about not being more than 10 minutes early for things. Any more than that and my early-ness can seem excessive to an onlooker. I need to be early so I don’t stress about being late, but I don’t want people to notice how early I am. I tend to show up for therapy (among other things) early and walk around to kill time. It is important to maintain sufficient distance from my destination (1 block at least). I wouldn’t want my therapist to spot me near his office an hour before the appointment.
When an office has a buzzer it means announcing exactly when I show up. Are they noticing how early I show up? Am I being rude by announcing my arrival 10 minutes early rather than 1 minute early?

If I sneak in, past the buzzer door, behind someone else will the therapist think I haven’t arrived yet, leaving me waiting in the waiting room indefinitely?

I worry about pressing the wrong button and buzzing someone else. I’ve done that before. I had a class where the professor held classes in her apartment (I know, weird right? She was a strange lady, always giving me free hair product. She had cats though so that was awesome) We had to press the buzzer to get in. Once I accidentally buzzed one of her neighbors. Very embarrassing.
I have to check and re-check to make sure I’m pressing the button corresponding with the correct name. Sometimes the list of names is far from the buzzer, allowing more room for potential errors and therefore more worrying.

Once I got my belt from my coat stuck in the door of a therapist’s office that had a buzzer. I tugged hard trying to free the belt and eventually had to get buzzed in again to free myself. There were moments where I considered sacrificing the belt to avoid the extra buzzing, but I worried she’d notice the belt left behind and comment when I arrived next time missing a coat belt. The belt has since been lost after a dry cleaning trip. It just really didn’t want to be on my coat. It’s a shame since I picked it out because of the belt. I felt a coat with a belt produced a better silhouette.

The first time I tried discussing the problem of buzzer with a therapist who had one, she took it a little personally. So I dropped the subject. I didn’t meet with her very long. It might have lasted longer had there been no buzzer.

I later met with another therapist in the same office building. He and I came to the agreement that I’d sneak into the building behind someone else. He didn’t mind, apparently he too hated the buzzer. His reason was different. Often he didn’t hear it and wouldn’t know people were waiting. This method of sneaking in helped, but still was stressful. I’d very slowly preform tasks that made me look busy, like I wasn’t trying to sneak in. I’d slowly unwrap my scarf or look at my ipod or phone. I needed to show up more than the 10 minutes early to allow more time to sneak in. But sometimes I’d get in the building way before the appointment, meaning I needed to walk slowly up the stairs to avoid arriving in the waiting room more than 10 minutes early.

I don’t have a id card to get me in the building for my internship yet. For at least a week more I have to get buzzed in to enter the office. To complicate matters not everyone works there every day. I have to buzz multiple people (Many who I hardly know yet. I worry if I say my name and ask to be let in they’ll be confused about who I am.) to find one who is there who can let me in. I’ve been working to avoid this by showing up during the morning at peak arrival hours so I can follow someone else in. It’s in a nice neighborhood and I’m sure I could find fun places to eat during my lunch break, but I’ve not been leaving the building for lunch because I don’t want to be re-buzzed in.

I returned to therapy Tuesday with S.M. He got a new office. I was taken by surprise when, after making the appointment to meet with him again, I learned that his new office has a buzzer. It hadn’t occurred to me that he could have become a buzzer person in the past year.
It amazes me that even with the amount I worry, situations still manage to come up that I hadn’t foreseen.
I stressed a lot about the buzzer. It ended up being the least bad buzzer I’ve encountered. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a buzzer (Wait and see, I’ll turn the word buzzer into an offensive adjective) but I’ve seen much worse. This one was interesting in that I pressed a button to scroll to his name (first one on the list) and then pressed the call button. I like that I only have to see one name at a time and that his is the first. Less worry there about buzzing the wrong person. Other worries are still there but cutting out one problem helped. It also helps that this is my favorite therapist and I appear to have come down with a bad case of idealization. If he were a new therapist with the same buzzer I might be more critical.

Today at the end of my appointment I walked out of his office, through the waiting room, outside the waiting room to the elevator. My therapist followed shortly behind me and said “Here let me show you something” and then showed me the code I can use to get into the waiting room. No more need for a buzzer. Leaving me puzzled about why he did this.
-Did he remember that I have trouble with buzzers? I only mentioned it once to him, briefly(On the phone during a time I wasn’t even meeting with him and just wanted records). I’ve been assuming he forgot about it. I hadn’t talked about my stress over his buzzer, because I didn’t want to be rude. I’m sure he didn’t choose for the office to be designed with a buzzer. Did he offer it without me asking because he knew I wouldn’t ask?
-Does he tell the code to all his patients? If so why didn’t he just tell me it on the phone when I made the appointment. Why wait till after the second session? And why after I already left his office?
-Can he tell if I’ve just used the code? and if so maybe it’s a sneaky way to see if I show up earlier when I don’t need him to buzz me in. I won’t fall into that trap:P 10 minute rule still applies.
-Maybe he thinks he’ll run a little late some day and then without the buzzer I can let myself in even if he’s not there yet.

I guess it’s a sign he’s not worried about me breaking into the waiting room or something. :P
I’m going to think of it as that he remembered my trouble with buzzers and view it as a nice gesture. Perhaps I’ll get an explanation about it at my next appointment. Probably not though. And I doubt I’ll ask. Maybe I will. Or maybe not. He’d probably tell me if I asked, but that would require actually asking.

Outgoing Introvert

The other day one of my professors described me as ‘outgoing’.

I consider myself very introverted. On the surface the two terms might seem contradictory, but I think together they describe me accurately; despite Definr listing ‘outgoing’ as a synonym of ‘extroverted’.

I view being introverted as having a lower need/threshold for social interaction than extroverts. It is a separate trait from social skills, being socially anxious or talkative.

I can understand why my professor would think of me as outgoing. I talk a lot in class. Probably to the point where it’s annoying to classmates. In the moment I don’t appear anxious. I beat myself up after about everything I said awkwardly when I get home, but in class all is good. I am smiley, bubbly and engaging.

What she doesn’t know is that the talking I do in class is the majority of the social interaction I have in an average day. Most people consider class to be disruptive to their social life, for me it is my highlight.

I like to think that I give the impression of having a lot of close friends, that all the acquaintances I interact with think I have many close friends; I just happen to not be as close with them in particular. I think I succeed fairly well at this. I am on good superficial terms with a lot of people, it gives the impression of greater friendships than I really have.

I do enjoy social interaction, it just wears me out a lot. I can’t keep it up for as long. I need to be by myself to recharge and organize thoughts. I love how college is broken up into pieces. I don’t usually have things planed straight through 9-5. Usually I am able to head home in between classes.  I believe this recharge time is one of many factors explaining my improved academic performance in college compared with high school.

Sitting in a room quietly with a person next to me consumes more energy than sitting in the same room alone. I don’t know if this is how everyone feels, but I know having a lower amount of social energy to use makes this type of energy expenditure more signifigant.

After a long chunk of social interaction I badly need to be by myself. Living with my parents, many fights between my Mom and I occurred from her inability to respect this need of mine. Usually this resulted in me screaming to be left alone, while she persisted with asking questions about how the day had been. She knows, I hope at least, that given an hour or so alone I’d be up for talking, I just needed my recovery time.

I don’t mean to give the impression I don’t get lonely. That’s not true. I do. Sometimes. Usually I’m not. Quitting therapy initially created loneliness. Losing 2 hours a week of talking was a very significant dent. I was able to make some adjustments in my schedule to fix the problem.

I also don’t mean to give the impression that social anxiety isn’t a factor at all for me. It plays a role, a more minor one, but a role nonetheless. I just believe that it is a separate trait from introversion. My problem is more anxiety in general and some happens to fall into the realm of social anxiety.

The most important thing for avoiding social anxiety for me is structure. I need a clearly defined role. In class I don’t feel anxious speaking. I’m expected to be there and to speak, my participation grade depends on it. In a job requiring interacting with people it’s the same way. I know what I should be doing and have no problem doing it.

On the other hand, If I spot an acquaintance in the cafeteria I’ll likely smile and say ‘hi’, but I won’t join him/her unless directly invited. I’d worry I was invading their space. The role is less clearly defined.

I like the internet, because it allows for controlled social interaction. If I need a break all I need is to go to a new webpage.

Being a secret introvert can be useful in comparison to being a non-secret introvert. I feel my mental health problems are less likely to be suspected. The loner image is generally not positively viewed and makes one open to suspicion.

I’ve always been introverted, but there are life events that have added to my isolation. Having friends over to my house was a stressful experience. It wasn’t so bad in elementary school, but in middle school problems began with the way my Mom would behave when I had visitors. The details are for another post, but long story short, in early high school I decided it wasn’t worth it to have friends over. I had a lot of people I socialized with I school, but the majority of the friendships (there were some exceptions) were superficial. I feel like this caused me to miss out on some of the typical experience of gaining closer friends.

My experience of getting kicked out of school for mental health reasons also contributed. In the over two years since that happened I’ve become significantly more withdrawn. I feel terrified of the situation repeating itself and hide much more than I hid prior to it. Directly following that situation I had my trust in a couple of friends shattered. My ability to trust has been badly damaged. I hate it. I want the limits I have with social interaction to be only from my introversion, not because of my paranoia.

I made a friend recentlly. It’s exciting. I like her a lot and we share many interests. But there’s a limit for how close I have ever let her get. We may get to the point where it seems to her like it is not a superficial friendship, but for me there will always be a limit of what I can share.

My outside doesn’t match my inside.

Whoops, I got a little off the introversion track at the end there and more into trust issues, oh well. I’m sure you can deal with that.

General life update stuff:
-I finally called my old therapist who is awesome and made an appointment. He was totally fine with me meeting with him, even for only the summer. It’s a relief.
– I got into an honors psychology society thingy. Yay.