I kept my excitement under wraps when the DSM-5 went into editorial review but now that it’s publication date has been announced I’m ready to press my nose to a bookstore window and quiver.
Admittedly, that’s a little outside the norm on two levels. One, that I still prefer brick and mortar bookstores, and two, that it’s an odd book choice since I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or attorney working with the mentally ill. Truth is I’ve had some edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a guide to mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, on my bookshelf for many years.
Yep. Throw a log on the fire, pour a cup of tea, and curl up with the DSM – the perfect evening. That officially makes me some sort of nerd I suppose. However, nerd conjures up images of tortoise shell glasses, tailored shirts, high-rise trousers and plastic pocket protectors.
I think I’m only missing the pocket protector. Kind of an embarrassing image when you consider that I’m a middle-America soccer mom.
Nonetheless, as someone who has morphed from a psychiatric research wannabe to a special ed teacher-in-training to a stay-at-home professional parent, I have an intrinsic interest in mental and educational challenges. From the day a psychiatrist and room full of social workers told me to choose another child because the one I’d selected had deficiencies and should be institutionalized instead of adopted, I’ve been fighting to make a difference in the lives of differently-abled and at-risk children. It’s never been wise to tell me something can’t be done. I have this annoying habit of replying “watch me.”
So, if you see someone in the reference isle of a bookstore snatching up editions on educational methodologies or mental health topics with all the enthusiasm of an avid yard-sale shopper, please overlook the yellow highlighter stain on my shirt. I don’t have a pocket protector.
This is self-harm awareness month. I was reminded by a Facebook post on my daughter’s wall and by a teacher friend who mentioned self-harm awareness day in a text to me on the first of the month. I was glad that I wasn’t eye to eye with either of them because I wouldn’t want them to see me flinch.
Every day used to be self-harm awareness day in my house. Cutting is an addiction that crept into our home like evil smoke oozing under a door.
I don’t see anything.
It’ll go away.
Open a window and air it out.
Turn on a fan.
Go out another door and stand in the fresh breeze.
I tried it all. But the smoke kept coming.
It made me choke. It made me cry.
It made me look foolish as I flailed against it with my hands trying to push it away only to find that I was spreading it throughout the house.
I understand, yet I will never understand. My mind comprehends the literature but my heart cannot comprehend the reason. We love our kids. They know we love them. We are good parents. How can this happen here, in a good home, to us? How could we not know? What did we do wrong?
Pain stops pain? No. Just stop hurting yourself. What do you mean it’s not you that’s hurting you. I want to understand. I’m trying. Relief? In open wounds and blood? You’re finding relief?
You may not shave, you must use Nair! I still had exacto knives in the craft cupboard? I thought I’d . . . .
The physical pain stops emotional pain. I hear you, really I do, but you’re wrong it just masks it. That’s good enough for you? You know it’s temporary and you still do this to your body? Why? Stop yelling. I know you’re angry. I know you’re hurting. I’m trying. How can I be trying too hard? Come back. I care. I care.
Blood soaked tissues wadded into cotton balls sharp enough to cut my heart populate dark corners of the house.
Encounters with emotional pain stipe your arms, your belly, your thighs.
I hear your cries for help but cannot answer. I am mute with the very pain you are fighting.
Stop for me….please. You’re right. It’s not about me. It’s your battle. But I’m here. I’ll always be here.
There is hope – for us both.
It’s self-harm awareness month.
I am aware
and I love you.