There are so many directions I can go with this post. Reining it in is a bit salient. Anyone who is afflicted with PTSD or CPTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) will oft times seek out ways to make that pain go away. To do this, we engage in self-harm.
Self-harm can take many forms. Some turn to alcohol, others to various illicit or even legal drugs and medications. Over indulging in various activities can also be a form of self-harm, such as excess sex, exercise, work, etc. Self-harm is anything you do to forget or try to ease the pain you feel deep inside yourself. Sadly, there are those who try to escape by actually hurting themselves through cutting or hitting places on their bodies.
I personally have three forms of self-harm I engage in, aside from being an isolationist. I stress eat. Not sweets, but carbs and tons of sodium-rich foods. I also chew my nails. The third method for me is cutting off my hair. These things may not seem like self-harm to most people, but to me, they are devastating. I feel as if I have no control over my life. As a child, I stress ate and chewed my nails through the bullying and abuse because it was the only way I felt I could control my life in some small manner. These traits carried into adulthood. Cutting my hair is probably the worst for me. I love may hair, especially since the natural curl returned and hated it as a child when the mother-person forced me to have extremely short hair cuts. Cutting my hair off now, means I am completely out of control.
There are as many forms of self-harm as there are people who engage in self-harm to release or in some way make the internal pain we feel every day just fade away. We do this to make the nightmares stop. Those closest to us may not even be aware of our rituals. We are, though.
Anyone who is living with PTSD or CPTSD (it is not just about military personnel) wants the hurt to go away. We want the nightmares to end. We don’t want to jump at every shadow or every little sound. Professionals can only help us find direction. What is really required is love and patience. This must come from us as well as those we are closest to. We know what we are going through, others, don’t always.
Having a chronic illness, I am always met with the frustration of those who care about me. They are frustrated because they do not know how to help me or even respond when I say certain things. This is okay. However, just imagine, as frustrated as you feel, we feel it ten times more. We do not know how to help ourselves, let alone tell you how to help us. Look for the signs of anything that seems amiss in the one you love/care for. Then just be there and let them feel your presence, even if it is long distance.
Don’t judge, just love. Sometimes that is the most important thing, love. Healing doesn’t happen overnight as for many of us the harm didn’t happen overnight. Your love and patience can help us see the hope.