If I am going to ask you to consider your pain behaviours I think it is only fair that I share some of mine with you. Understanding the why behind everything I did was a long hard road and learning to like who I am was and still is a battle for me some days. I can be very hard on myself which made a lot of my own behaviours very self-destructive.
I also noticed during my journey that a lot of my behaviours were inter-connected with each other. Learning what triggered me to do the things I did wasn't easy. It took a long time and it wasn't always a pleasant experience. During the time when my pain had control, I lost who I was. I engaged in behaviours that were not only self-destructive to myself but they also impacted my family, my friends..but my daughter most of all. I still carry a lot of guilt for how her life was impacted.
Because of my pharmacology training, med-training, and my profession, it gave it me a lot of experience with pharmaceuticals. I could walk into any cupboard and scope out the medicine quickly determining if anything was of use for me. If I found something that would help my pain I took it. Yes, I stole medication. I used my education well but I used it for my own detriment.
I also became very self-abusive. I had two ways to abuse myself actually.The first way I abused my body was with food. I just stopped eating. Although a lot of that was due to reactions to the medications, it was also caused by all of the stomach upset from over-dosing on my medicine. I couldn't eat without throwing up, my stomach was in constant turmoil. I had no energy nor the desire to eat. I didn't care and I had given up. There were also times however when I abused food. I would eat non-stop and not the food that was healthy for me either. I would binge without the purge.
The second way I abused myself physically was to cause raw and bloody sores on my hands. I would pick and pick and pick until my hands were dripping with blood. Even though I was tearing and ripping at my skin, I didn't feel any pain...all I felt was the relief. It was a pain I could control unlike the pain in my body. Understanding why I did this was the hardest part. It was also the one most deeply ingrained behaviour as it was something I later realized I had done throughout my life to one degree or another. My daughter was a witness to this and she was also my biggest support to stopping. My guilt for how my daughter was impacted because of my pain was heavy and it would often cause me to start the cycle of self-abuse all over again.
Another of my behaviours was to isolate myself and avoid everyone I knew. If you were a reminder of my old life I wanted nothing to do with you. I didn't want to be with my old friends because they were still doing the job I wanted, was trained to do, but would never do again. They were a constant reminder of what I used to be but would never be again. I couldn't handle hearing about their day at work. about my old co-workers and I certainly didn't want to hear about the people I supported whom I would never see again. I was jealous, I was angry and I thought the only way I could avoid feeling that way was to avoid my friends. This would often lead me to the negative self talk which lead to the self-abuse. Inter-connected my behaviours were.
Life? My home? Me? didn't care. I didn't shower everyday, I didn't leave my house, and I didn't get dressed unless I had an appointment to go to...I gave up. Everything I did caused me to feel more pain so I thought if I did less I would feel less pain. In part that was true but it also caused me to become de-conditioned further in my physical abilities which only caused more pain. This cycle drove me to the abuse behaviours over and over again. The further I went down the higher my behaviours went up.
I think the worst behaviour I had and still do struggle with at times today, is the things I say to myself. I can be hard on myself. I have high expectations of myself, my life and I can be down right nasty and aggressive with me. No one can rip me apart better than I can. I know my weakness and sore spots better than anyone else and I can pack myself on a guilt trip unlike any other. The reason I say this is my worst behaviour is because it feeds all the others. When I would beat myself up I turned to food, I would start hurting myself, I would dig myself further into the hole I was in. I was my own worst enemy. My mind had become a battlefield that would ultimately come down to one night, many bottle of pills and the decision to end my life or not.
I thought I had a high pain tolerance until I had to learn to live with pain each and every day of my life. My pain broke me and I behaved in ways that were scary and almost ended my life. I share my pain behaviours with you because I've been there. I know where you are and I know how much it hurts. I share them because I hope too that they will let you know that no matter what you may be going through, you aren't the only one.
When you consider your pain behaviours please be gentle with yourself. Although these behaviours may be a part of your life now you can change that! If you are struggling with your pain behaviours, whether its understanding them or what to do differently, talk with someone. I am here if you need. There are many alternatives for help so please do not give up. You are worth changing your pain behaviours for and so are the people who share your life. Talk with your doctor. There are confidential phone lines you can call for crisis support...use them please.
Take good care of you! I ask this of you now more than ever.