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How do you experience your impulses?


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I've been thinking a lot about my self-injury impulses, which I've had on and off for 15 years since I was 30, and which have shown up again strongly recently. For whatever reason --whether it's because I'm not at all an impulsive person, because I've had decent psychiatric care, or because I've somehow managed to white-knuckle it through, I've never developed a habit of self-injuring, and have rarely acted out physically on the urges at all. I've never had a kit or a ritual process associated with the urges, and never experienced the sense of relief or feedback loop that I see others describe.

 

Instead, the urges stay mostly in my head, though the feelings are intense and painful, and increasingly it's kind of feeling like how I'm experiencing the urges is problematic in its own way. When I have them, I have very specific imagery of harming myself in a very specific way, and it's almost feeling like the urges themselves are how I punish myself for my feelings. For instance, in therapy this morning, my pdoc was talking to me and saying kind and reassuring things, and while he was doing that I was halfway listening but mostly focusing on visualizing self-injury. It feels very emotionally punishing, but the punishment doesn't translate into anything external that can be seen by anyone else. Nonetheless, I feel like I am inflicting emotional damage. It's hard to describe. I was wondering if anybody else can relate to this, or gets what I'm trying to say. I don't generally post in here, because I have very little experience with the behavioral struggle with SI, feeling like I have to hide scars, etc. It's almost always on the inside for me. Does that make sense to anyone? Would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions.

Edited by Unstrung Harp
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Hmmm... I don't know if this will be helpful, cause I'm kinda dumb today and in a shit head-space... and I'll try really hard to avoid including triggers here... (but of course, I can't predict everyone's triggers so I guess just read between your fingers if you're really worried...)

 

 

When I have the impulse to SI, it is an all-encompassing feeling. Like....... there is absolutely nothing else. I literally can't think of anything else at all. There is no other option. It is the only image in my head, and when I try to think of other things to do or to occupy myself with, my brain just seems to respond with "fuck that, gotta do this first, can't do anything until this gets dealt with"... Fortunately, the impulses get further and farther apart as I learn to gain control over my emotions and my circumstances. Unfortunately, I don't always win over my biology.

 

I always SI in the same way(s), using the same tools in the same locations on my body... I don't know if it's this ritualized for everyone, or if it's just me. When I get the impulse- all I do is alternate between wandering around the house trying to find my tools and trying to talk and soothe and convince my unhinged self not to do the painful things I'm thinking about..... it's like a terrible increase in internal tension that only seems to be relieved by the act itself.

 

Sometimes the impulse gets triggered by a memory or feeling I have, and at those times, I think the SI impulse becomes omnipotent in order to chase out those even shittier feelings that I have no control over. Just hypothesizing. 

 

I also can't speak for anyone else.... but whereas my suicidal thoughts often placate or "comfort" me, SI impulses do no such thing... they are like the most excruciating itch you can imagine, that you know will bleed if you try to scratch.

Lose-lose. 

 

Hopefully that helps shine a bit of light on your question.

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For me it feels like a physical urge. I feel an odd sensation on my arms or legs and another sensation on my fingers and I have to bring them together. It's like my body is forcing me. Additionally, there's mental images of what it's going to look like and detailed 'videos' in my head. There's an overwhelming sense of anxiety and restlessness that accompanies it that doesn't go away until I do it. 

 

There are also times when it's more automatic - like when I'm angry at myself or my mind makes me do it. 

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For me it is almost always an urge to punish myself for having hurt someone I care about. Funny, but I usually still loathe myself regardless of whether I take it out on my carcass or not, so I guess it doesn't help.

Edited by Stickler
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I haven't had any urges for several years now, which is super cool to think about.

When I did get them, it was always a last resort to try to interrupt the stupidly invasive intense body sensations from PTSD when nothing else was working (as in over a matter of hours or days nothing else was working).

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It's like a screaming in my head. I get physically restless and uncomfortable, and the only thing to stop that is to cut. I don't know if that even makes sense, but it's the best way I can put it into worked.

yes. I get the screaming in your head. It's happening in my head right now. 

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It's like a screaming in my head. I get physically restless and uncomfortable, and the only thing to stop that is to cut. I don't know if that even makes sense, but it's the best way I can put it into worked.

yes. I get the screaming in your head. It's happening in my head right now.

Mine, too...I'm laying in bed wrapped tightly in blankets...and all I can think is I should go upstairs where my tools are...ugh. I really do need to sleep, too...

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It sounds weird, but there's a short scene from from the show Dexter where he's describing his urge to kill that almost perfectly describes my urge to SI. I'm not sure if I should post the actual clip here because there's a lot of blood imagery and I don't want to trigger anybody. 

 

The basic gist of it is that it starts with an image of blood, that slowly increases in intensity until it becomes this unbearable screaming pressure and the only way to make it stop is to open the floodgates and let it out. It feels like my head is being squeezed and stretched by the pressure and I can't see straight until I let the pressure out. 

 

 

 Nonetheless, I feel like I am inflicting emotional damage. It's hard to describe. I was wondering if anybody else can relate to this, or gets what I'm trying to say. I don't generally post in here, because I have very little experience with the behavioral struggle with SI, feeling like I have to hide scars, etc. It's almost always on the inside for me. Does that make sense to anyone? Would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions.

I'm not sure if it's the same thing, really, but I know that when I bite down on the urge and refuse to physically harm myself, the self-harm comes out in other ways. I'll do things like go for a full day without eating, staying up all night when I've got something important at work the next day, making myself late to work, and generally sabotaging various areas of my life. It comes out one way or another, it's just a matter of how. I sometimes think it would be less harmful to me if I just physically hurt myself whenever I get the urge. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I use to self harm when I was a kid, at the time I didnt know it was self harming.

 

Now, at 41, I have urges and images of hurting myself, the images are quite clear and specific, sometimes I can feel the relief when I see in my mind that I'm harming myself. It scares me because its quite violent, and from the outside no one would know.  Im glad I found this site, not happy glad but relief glad if you know what I mean.

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I use to self harm when I was a kid, at the time I didnt know it was self harming.

 

Now, at 41, I have urges and images of hurting myself, the images are quite clear and specific, sometimes I can feel the relief when I see in my mind that I'm harming myself. It scares me because its quite violent, and from the outside no one would know.  Im glad I found this site, not happy glad but relief glad if you know what I mean.

yes, that's how I'm experiencing it too when it happens. Like the imagery is the self-injury. Welcome to CB, Selfhelp. I hope you find it useful.

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I self harmed most frequently for 2 years about 3/4 years ago, and whenever I felt the urge to get out my kit or whatever I could find, I felt out of control and I would always cry because I knew what I was doing was bad but it was the only thing that felt good and helped. It felt like I had to and there was nothing I could do to stop it and it really was all-encompassing and I couldn't think about anything else until I was 'done'. Then the school found out and I had to go see a therapist etc and things seemed to get better, but last year things started to get bad again and I SI by cutting a bit again. It was the same feeling as before but I figured that a way to deal with it was instead of cutting I would hit myself and try to hurt myself in ways that weren't cutting. It felt like an improvement but I realise now that nothing had really changed. Recently, I started cutting again and it's weird, it's a more focused, determined type of impulse. It's not as blinding as it used to be, it almost feels like my head is clear. I don't really know what to think about it. I guess once you're a self injurer, the urges don't completely go away, they change form. I'm hoping mine can change to a more manageable and suppressible form though. 

 

Sorry, that's a bit of an essay

Edited by caldy
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Right now...I feel like I can't breathe.  And, that if I cut, I'll feel better. My head is spinning and screaming. :( I need to talk to my therapist, and she's out of town this week...and I'm out of town next week.  I don't see her until the 28th.  

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LesMis, I'm very sorry you're in this headspace.  I know it's been some hours since you posted here, but I wanted to let you know that we are indeed out here and listening to you. 

 

Practically speaking, how are you now?  Do you have any coping mechanisms in place that you can turn to - such as getting out of the house and going for a run or brisk walk, calling someone or going over to see them, going for a drive if you have a car and screaming there (something I personally have done many times)?  There are several links on the main forum page with lists of ideas from other members, and they're well worth reading through.

 

Keeping you in my thoughts,

Mia

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LesMis, I'm very sorry you're in this headspace.  I know it's been some hours since you posted here, but I wanted to let you know that we are indeed out here and listening to you. 

 

Practically speaking, how are you now?  Do you have any coping mechanisms in place that you can turn to - such as getting out of the house and going for a run or brisk walk, calling someone or going over to see them, going for a drive if you have a car and screaming there (something I personally have done many times)?  There are several links on the main forum page with lists of ideas from other members, and they're well worth reading through.

 

Keeping you in my thoughts,

Mia

You are so sweet. I'm sorry I didn't see this before now.  

I'm a bit calmer...still wanting to cut badly, but it seems easier to handle tonight.  

I had to work today (It's summer vacation right now), and that actually helped some because it gave me something to focus on.  Then my friends and I went to the movies...which was again something else to focus on.  I'm home now, and I'm going to try to keep occupied.  

Thank you for checking in with me. This board is lovely. Thank you...

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LesMis, I'm very sorry you're in this headspace.  I know it's been some hours since you posted here, but I wanted to let you know that we are indeed out here and listening to you. 

 

Practically speaking, how are you now?  Do you have any coping mechanisms in place that you can turn to - such as getting out of the house and going for a run or brisk walk, calling someone or going over to see them, going for a drive if you have a car and screaming there (something I personally have done many times)?  There are several links on the main forum page with lists of ideas from other members, and they're well worth reading through.

 

Keeping you in my thoughts,

Mia

You are so sweet. I'm sorry I didn't see this before now.  

I'm a bit calmer...still wanting to cut badly, but it seems easier to handle tonight.  

I had to work today (It's summer vacation right now), and that actually helped some because it gave me something to focus on.  Then my friends and I went to the movies...which was again something else to focus on.  I'm home now, and I'm going to try to keep occupied.  

Thank you for checking in with me. This board is lovely. Thank you...

 

Having something to focus on definitely helps. I'm glad today was a bit easier.

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