Sunday, February 5, 2012

All voices will be heard at the round table

Maybe I'm wrong with the observation I am about to share.  Perhaps I should do some research before I share my perspective.  Aw hell, I'll do research later.  For now, I'm going to share my thoughts and maybe some of you will have experience or a perspective you would be willing to share.

I think cutting and anorexia act like addictions.  They both seem to offer a short term "cure" or means of handling your stress, while offering the person nothing in the way of truly dealing with her pain and furthermore, can cause additional problems.  We all know the hazards of drinking and drug use-they are short term crutches for long term issues and they destroy the body of the user, as well as their finances, and relationships.  It is the same with anorexia-when you control how/when/where/with whom you eat, you are essentially keeping the demons at bay-for the moment- while wreaking havoc on your body, your relationships, and your checking account.  And the same could be said for cutting.  Like any other addiction, eventually, the "little bit" of cutting won't suffice and you'll have to cut more, or deeper to get the same effect.  I've transported many people who swear they weren't trying to end their lives, they just accidentally cut too deeply.

So, DJ and I were discussing this yesterday.  Because not only did she attempt to hurt herself in this manner, but she also attempted to huff bath salts.  Seriously?  Yup-I've transported folks who have done that too-one of them jumped out of the back of my unit after attempting to beat the crap out of me and my partner.  Luckily, the ambulance was stopped at the time.  He was found 15 minutes later and brought back to the ER in a wheelchair with his hands zip-tied behind his back, covered in his own mucous, vomitus and blood. Yeah-that method worked to assuage his fears really well-didn't it?

No, I'm not openly mocking people who engage in this behavior but I will pseudo mock the behavior itself by pointing out the preposterousness of it and the fact that it's a fantasy.

DJ is learning this.  They did an exercise where they acted as if the anorexia was a person and they role played.  DJ describes the anorexia as a "good time friend" who is actually a crappy friend.  We've all had friends like that-they are completely one way and don't give a damn that they drown you while they attempt to exist. Goodwrench had a roommate like this-"C'mon dude-stay up and party with us. You can call in sick to class/work tomorrow."  

DJ is learning to view the anorexia as that bad "friend" who is not worth having.  I hope she learns to view cutting in the same manner.  She explained yesterday how she feels a sense of "peace" after cutting herself.  Yeah, all because your body dumps endorphins into the blood stream on injury in an attempt to help control pain.  Your "peace" is just a chemical reaction.  Hopefully, she'll see, in a purely intellectual and cognitive way, that cutting is just another bad friend who serves no good or lasting purpose.

I feel hopeful today because I think that will be DJ's way out-her cognitive abilities.  When she can disengage that part of her brain to analytically view the part of her brain that is in control when she's stressed and then see the errors that that part of her brain is committing, then maybe she can LEARN to think her way through her stress to help modulate the overwhelming FEELINGS that are knocking her on her ass.

I have to relate everything to my limited knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the body and the brain.  When we work well-when we're in a state of homeostasis-or balance-opposing functions in the body and the brain are both at work to keep us in balance. If DJ can see that her emotional aspects of her brain have taken the intellectual parts of her brain hostage and that both parts have a rightful place at the round table, then I think she will start taking more control of her life.  Conversely, the same could be said of the cognitive aspects of our brain-there are times when we should listen to our more "rational" parts of our brain, and there are times we should not: if "reason" is telling us we're being ridiculous when our gut is screaming at us to leave the secluded alley and get into a well lit area, ignoring our "gut" might mean getting mugged, having the crap beat out of us, or worse.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying or overcomplicating.  I'm just trying to make it make sense in my head.  But she saw something yesterday.  I asked her if she felt like hurting herself at that moment. She said no, she did not.  So, the urge passed, I said.  Yes, but it will come back, she replied.  Yeah, but it will pass again, was my retort.  So, sit tight, speak up, hunker down and wait it out.  No it's not easy, but it's an important part of getting on with your life.