*This post talks about self-harm, with no physical details, please take care*
"So you would rather feel physical pain than emotional pain?" My therapist questioned me.
I told her that when I inflict physical pain onto myself, it hurts less than the emotional pain I'm feeling.
I told her how I feel that I can bear physical pain, but as for my emotional pain...it hurts so much I can't stand it. It's agony, it feels like it's swallowing me up and I will drown in it.
"So the physical pain momentarily stops your emotional pain?" asked my therapist a little while later.
This question stopped me in my tracks. I had only thought of my self-harm in terms of self-punishment. I had never considered that I may have been hurting myself as a way of pressing pause on emotional pain- even if only for a few seconds.
It slowly became clear to me that when I'm in a BPD 'episode', I feel so desperate that I would do almost anything to try to bear the emotional pain.
[from my sketchbooks]
I started with self-harm when I was as young as eight or nine. It was something I did when I was I was feeling upset, angry or ashamed of myself. My self-harm was all about 'ridding' myself of the things I did that I thought made me a 'bad person'. It was an outlet for releasing the guilt, shame, sadness and anger stored up inside myself.
Until this conversation with my therapist, I had never considered that I had been creating physical pain as a means of giving myself 'relief' from emotional pain.
For the first time, I am able to recognise how much emotional pain I have been through, and the lengths I have been willing to go to in order to gain some relief from that distress.