Thursday, June 7, 2012

Drugs & Self-Mutilation

The mind and the body are supposed to be two entities intertwined. A person who already feels somewhat detached from reality or in deep emotional pain when clean and sober may still have that inner voice telling him or her to not hurt themselves. Now under the influence of a substance, that inner voice can get drowned out. A person can think they feel good while understand the influence because the brain is overflowing with endorphins and serotonin. These two hormones help the brain calm pain and experience pleasure. On the other hand, when that crash hits, the body is depleted of the hormones that keep us stable. Therefore, the pain and detachment is amplified. Sometimes deeply troubled people will cut themselves with razors or knives. It is a way to transfer emotional pain into a more solid tangible physical pain. And it can relieve the need to punish themselves. However, the one I am most familiar with is the need to feel alive. Physical pain is a way for the mind to come back to the body, especially in fleeting moments before going unconscious from the blood loss.

Depression is terrible and it is very real, however it is very common. It can be triggered by stress factors from an unhappy situation. It is not only mental but it is physical. The mental feelings are sadness, irritability, overwhelmed, withdrawn, hopelessness, lack of concentration, self-hate and negative thoughts. The physical feelings are fatigue, inability to sleep, appetite changes and so on. I felt extremely depressed earlier this year when one of my close friends died in an accident. It's not the first time I've felt depressed but death is something most can relate to so I'll talk about it. I felt like I couldn't breathe when I thought about him. It was like a void within me that was lost without him. I couldn't sleep because I was so sad. I didn't even want to wake up or get out of bed. I was in a loophole of my negative thoughts. I had no appetite neither or I binged it. It was unhealthy. Everything was moving too fast for me. The reality within my head became distorted with an overwhelming combination of heavy emotion.

Luckily, the responsibilities of my boys and the support from other friends brought me back to reality. I never considered cutting myself open to see my veins, the whiteness of my bones nor the flow of bright blood in order to feel like I'm alive or to feel real. I feel great empathy for the patients I have encountered who have done this to themselves. My first encounter with a patient who was under the influence of a substance, suffered detachment that came along with depression and cut himself open was a middle aged man. This one man who I'm very surprised survived took some sort of serrated  knife and dragged it down his arm. I could tell it wasn't a clean cut because it has showed hack marks like he was carving tough meat. He didn't mean to kill himself but he wanted to see the inside, well that's what he told us. I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it multiple times on others. In my opinion, the difference between a suicide attempt and wanting to feel real is that the person who wants to feel real will cut or hack until he or she sees bone.

A feeling I felt during my recent bout was shame. I didn't want to be judged for my withdrawn actions but the sorrow was so overwhelming. I kept my expression of how deep this depression of my friend's death to a minimum. I sought out more of my healthier coping mechanisms to clear my mind. However, I can't help but think of other people who feel the need to hide their depression on a daily basis. I think about my first encounter with that man who drank so much that his inner voice of self preservation was lost. He hacked until he could partially put his fingers into his arm to feel the bone. I think about how instead of suppressing his depression, he actually amplified the thoughts within his head. I think about those who need to drink or smoke in order to go to bed at night. All these people I've encountered, they are no different from the next person. They aren't insane or addicts. They just wanted to feel real and lose grip because of a substance snuffing their inner voice out.

I don't know how I can help others who suffer a detachment from reality due to depression. I just hope that whoever reads this learns from what I've seen and felt. I hope that they understand why doing drugs and drinking while depressed can help in some sense but I can see how it is extremely risky. I'm not saying all depressed people are this extreme but sometimes it can be. Don't look down upon people who are suffering from depression and if you are depressed please seek help. There are resources and people like me that care about you, even if you are a stranger. Don't let yourself hurt yourself. You are worth so much, even if you don't feel it. Lastly, please don't take the risk of doing drugs if you question reality.

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