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Trauma, Dissociation and Self-harm: I Battle Myself with Self-care

I still hurt myself. It’s something I’ve done for longer than I can remember. Something I cannot seem to stop. It happens when I dissociate. Which happens when I’m triggered. A scary combination that sneaks up on me. And ultimately, gets the best of me. Unless I can fight it off. 

For me, it’s usually my hands that get the brunt of my beatings. And my arms. Which is progress because it used to be my head. Typically, I pound things. Like doors. Floors. Walls. Myself. Really anything in my path. It affects my right hand the most. And I’m right-handed. I often can’t close my hand all the way because of the beatings it takes. I wake up every morning forgetting how bad my hand is and wince in pain as I try to use it. It sends pain down my shoulders. My neck. My back and my ribs. I ice it. Apply CBD lotion. Tell it I’m sorry, and I will try my hardest not to do it again. Like any regretful abuser does. 

Sometimes, I can feel it coming. When I’m about to hurt myself. I try to ward it off. To hide. To trick my attacker. Convince it that it doesn’t need to strike. No, not this time. I try to breathe. Meditate. Do yoga. Go for a walk. A run. But sometimes, I can’t fight it. Or maybe I am fighting it. I guess that’s part of the problem. 

The link between trauma and self-harm is strong. It’s like I’m fighting my attacker. But now I am my attacker. An illusion. A duality. Two things that go together. And once you’ve experienced one, I wonder if it’s possible not to experience the other. If it is possible, it’s something I have yet to discover. 

I know the path to ending self-harm is self-care. Which I’m learning to do. But it’s an everyday commitment. One that I sometimes struggle to keep. But I know the danger that awaits me. So I try to stick to it. Though, it’s exhausting. 

I have to ensure I get enough rest. But also that I constantly move my body. For somatic trauma lies in the body. I have to make sure that I stick to a routine. But also that I try new things. To both soothe and retrain my brain. I have to make sure that I take my medicine and supplements. That I practice yoga. That I exercise. That I meditate. That I eat right. Don’t drink too much caffeine. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Don’t over- or under-eat. Consume enough nutrients. Enough water. Identify my feelings. All of them. And work through the hard ones. Right when they happen. So they don’t compound and grow. I have to engage my senses. All eight of them. And be aware of my sensory triggers. I have to pace myself so I don’t push myself. Resulting in adrenal fatigue. And in a dangerous crash-landing. I have to go to psychotherapy. To occupational therapy. Work through how the trauma I suffered continues to affect my life. And be okay with having bad days. Hard days. Days when my thoughts are unhealthy. When I can’t seem to get out of bed. All while getting my work done — retaining my job and my health insurance. Keeping up with household chores. With relationships. With myself. For I know that if I don’t maintain my life and practice self-care, I run the risk of hurting myself again. It’s a dangerous cycle requiring a delicate balance. 

I’ve started praying to stop hurting myself. During my morning meditation. The same way I pray for others to heal from their illnesses. This is my illness. The evil inside me that I have to be okay living with while simultaneously chasing away. My attacker who dwells inside of me. Waiting until I’m weak. Defeated. So it can strike again. 

I pray that one day, I will be centered enough to dodge the blows. To feel the urge to self-harm rise up in me and to fight it off with self-care. To scare it into submission. To rule over it. To banish it. So it never comes back again. 

She-ra Princess of Power (Image obtained from IMBD)

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Trauma, Dissociation and Self-harm: I Battle Myself with Self-care

Jenna Grace

Jenna Grace is a writer and educator with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnoses. She writes and speaks about topics including healing from trauma, coping with neurological disorder and practicing mindfulness in order to help others and to explore new meaning. Visit her website for more of her stories.

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APA Reference
Grace, J. (2019). Trauma, Dissociation and Self-harm: I Battle Myself with Self-care. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Nov 2019
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