Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

* Trigger warning for self harm *

I broke my own wrist today.

Sometimes once I decide to do something, it’s like it’s already happened. I have one of those brains that thinks through every step in every activity, whether that’s a trip to the grocery store or snapping one of my bones. And once I’d figured out how I would do it, and when, and what I would tell people – hell, even what I’d write on this blog – it felt too late to turn back. Even though I knew that I didn’t really want to do it.

I lay awake two nights ago, reasoning with myself.

I’ll have to miss out on going swimming with my nephew at his birthday party next week.

I won’t be able to drive.

How will I get dressed and do my hair? What can I wear that will fit over a cast?

How will I work?

And just one small voice, on the other side. If you get it over and done with now, you won’t have to think about it any more. 

I understand self-harming when it’s the result of intense emotional distress. That makes sense to me. And because it makes sense, it doesn’t frighten me. This did, a little.

Last night was my first attempt. I went upstairs, put a load of laundry on, went out to the rooftop, counted to eight, and then did it. It hurt intensely at first, and my hand immediately bruised and swelled, but I was relieved – I could see the bone looked out of place. For a couple of minutes, I paced, taking deep breaths, feeling sweat starting to bead on my neck. Then I went back downstairs, tidied my room, vacuumed and did the dishes then commented on a few blogs before returning to the rooftop to hang out the laundry one-handed. It was all very calm. Just part of the routine. Nothing to see here.

I don’t know how to regulate these intrusive thoughts, because they aren’t emotional. I mostly felt numb. Resigned. Scared of the pain, because I’ve never broken a bone before and didn’t know what to expect, and a little scared that I’d fail, that I wouldn’t be able to do it and I’d be a pathetic little sook. But mostly numb.

That all flipped when I went to my doctor this afternoon. She told me she didn’t think it was broken – it might be, but we’d wait a few days and see before doing any x-rays.

I’m finding it hard to identify how I felt, hearing that. In some strange way, it was like being knocked down yet again. Another thing that hadn’t gone right. More pain I’d suffered for no reason. More pain I’d have to suffer, because I’d decided I was going to break my wrist and so I had to break my wrist. I was fighting back tears, without much success.

“So how will I be able to tell when it is broken?” I asked.

And she told me. Not only that, but she told me why what I’d done hadn’t worked and explained the way this bone is usually broken. She didn’t ask why I’d done it, or whether I was planning to do it again. She just sent me home in tears.

The next attempts were so much harder. I was up on that rooftop for hours. Crying, pacing, laying my hand out but losing my nerve at the last minute and pulling it back. Scared. And feeling so much grief over all the time I spend reluctantly inflicting pain on myself. Over the nights I’ve lain awake worrying about having to do this, and not having anybody to tell who could help me. It was a choice – doing it was a choice – but how many people have to make decisions like that?

The fear was much worse than the pain. As soon as it was done, I took myself to the walk-in clinic on my block, and a couple of hours and five x-rays later, the doctor confirmed it – I’d broken my wrist. But my hand was so swollen that he was worried I might have compartment syndrome, and he wrote me a referral letter and told me to go to the ER.

And then the terrible, no-good very bad day got worse. I went home to plug in my phone, anticipating hours waiting in the emergency room, then went out while it was charging to buy a drink to take with me. Without my keys.

Deep breath. Okay. This is annoying, but okay. My spare keys are at R’s – he’s sulking and mad at me and told me I had to ask permission from his PA Anne before I go over, but we explicitly agreed that my spare keys could stay at his place. So I just have to walk over there (broken wrist still uncasted and not even in a sling), grab the key from the concierge, go up and get my spare keys, then get my phone and my x-rays and go to the hospital. Deep breath. It’s okay.

But it wasn’t okay. When I asked the concierge (a nice guy; I always stop to chat with him) for the key, he looked intensely uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry, Rea. You’ve been taken off the list.”

I felt humiliated. I’ve paused, writing this, because I just can’t find the words to explain the shame I felt, that this place I used to live was now sealed off to me, that I no longer belonged, and that I couldn’t stop the tears that came to my eyes.

Voice shaking (bite your cheek, hard, until it bleeds; get yourself under control), I asked him to call Anne and get her permission to let me in. He did, and things got worse.

I’m sorry, Rea,” she said, hesitant. “My instructions from R are that you’re not allowed in the apartment.”

In the end, she called R and got permission for me to go in, then drove the hour’s journey from her house to retrieve my keys when it turned out he’d locked them in the safe and I couldn’t get to them. In the meantime, I was sobbing but furious, taking down my photos from what used to be my bedroom in his apartment, gathering my pot plants from the window sill in the living room, taking my Sprite from the fridge, collecting any trace of myself I could find. I’m angry with him for agreeing to keep my spare keys without telling me I wasn’t allowed to access them, but mostly I am boiling with rage that he has had such a childish fit because I dared to request that if he wants me to work after hours, on a Friday night when I am sick but have still worked 12-hour days to get papers ready for him, when I told him the night before I wouldn’t be working more than 8 hours on Friday because I also had to work through the weekend, that he ASK me to help instead of texting and TELLING me to check my email. That’s it. That was my crime. (I checked and answered the email.) That tiny piece of respect I wanted is why I have endured weeks of silent treatment and snappiness and petulance, and I am sick of it.

You could say all’s well that ends well. It took over 2 hours, during which time my hand ballooned even more, but I got my keys and I got to the hospital. My arm has been put in plaster and I have an appointment with the specialist team tomorrow morning. I’ve called my mother and fed her a cheery lie so she isn’t surprised and suspicious about the cast when I go home next week.

But I feel sad. The kind of sad where you can’t think of anything that would make you feel better. The kind of sad that makes you wonder what the point is anyway.

I called the psychiatrist’s office on Monday to make an appointment, and they told me they’d check her schedule and call back. It’s Friday tomorrow and still no word.

There are wars, and famine, and deaths, and none of it is happening to me. But I still feel sad, and lost.

Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

17 thoughts on “Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

  1. Me says:

    I started self-harming at a similar age, and I’ve also broken bones as a method of self-harm many times over the years…I understand completely the detachment, numbness, but also absolute fear of having to break a bone, and sitting there and knowing you have to do it but being scared of doing so. It’s a horrible thing to have to go through, and I hope you heal well.

    I haven’t been following your blog long, so I don’t know who everybody is yet or anything, but I’m here, reading and caring.

    I hope your psych calls you soon and can get you a speedy appt. We’ve been waiting for a service to call us back too…I don’t think it’s happening either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry you’ve been through this too, but it is nice to know that somebody out there understands. Thank you for letting me know you care. And for the prompt to look at your blog again, because Kasper in his princess tent is too adorable and it lifted my spirits a little.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me says:

        Haha yes, Kasper in his princess tent is pretty cute, and funny to boot. Thank you, I will pass your compliments on to him, it’s not like his head can get any bigger XD


  2. Dear Rea, my entire body dropped about 5 degrees when I read your opening line about breaking your own wrist. And now I have tears in my eyes. I am so sorry you are in so much pain. I wish I could make it stop. I wish I could make a qualified and competent professional magically appear so you had actual support that could help you work through the emotions and thoughts that led you to cope by breaking your wrist. I know you likely feel numb about it, or don’t grasp how big of a deal it is, but it is a big deal. It matters, your pain matters. Sending soothing thoughts for your physical and emotional pain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read a blog post recently about how self harm isn’t recognized as traumatic because the injuries are self-imposed, but fuck, it sure feels traumatic sometimes. Today I feel pretty removed from it, like it was someone else up on that roof.

      I’ve gone into shutdown mode a bit the last few days, but I have been reading your posts and silently sending support – not very helpful, I know! But wanted you to know I was still thinking of you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It feels traumatic because it IS traumatic. You had 5 bones broken, it doesn’t matter how they were broken. I actually think it is far more traumatic to have caused the injury to oneself, because there are so many complex emotional experiences tied into that action, that are just provoked and prodded and not soothed (as we hope it will do), from the injuries. So already feeling so in need of comfort, and doing something to cause the opposite of comfort. Well, that is incredibly traumatic and so sad. It feels so lonely, to be in that place of trying to comfort and soothe but really needing someone else to do it (because that is a legitimate human need we all have). And no one doing it, so doing something that has worked in the past, to some extent, and finding it really doesn’t work. And receiving some care now (which I am so glad you are, from the mamas and co-workers), but of course fearing when that will end. It is such a difficult cycle to be in, and I want nothing more than for you to find the support you need to get out of it. I am really rooting for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This.shaking says:

    Dear Rea: You are so Real to me.
    I am so angry with the people who have hurt you and the people who ignore you.
    Please, Rea, do not help those people.
    Put on your suit of armor and fight them. I am suited up next to you. TS


    1. Being Real certainly does hurt, sometimes. I suppose the trick is to learn not to mind. I’m not much of a warrior, but I am grateful to know you’d fight with me.


  4. I am filled with sadness for you. You are right, it seems inevitable once the thoughts come, like it has to be done, yet also the shame knowing that it is a wrong choice. resigned. I hate it. I hate that you are having to make these choices, and do so on your own. I know its so hypocritical of me, but do you think you could reach out to someone? Your mom? One of your old providers? Tell them you have gotten no where with a new provider and need help getting someone? Could you try a crisis line? It hasn’t been that helpful for me, but sometimes tides me over. I hate that you are so alone. and so hurt. I hate that for all of us. I am really angry at that doctor and R. too. Cuddle Everest for me and let her purr remind you that you are cared for. I will spend time with the baby goats (got a new one early this morning) and think of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so happy the new goat arrived safely. I am spending lots of time snuggling with Everest, though she is not impressed that I have one less hand to pat her with.

      Asking for help from my mother wouldn’t get me very far – I’m the one who takes her to psychiatrists, not the other way around, and she doesn’t actually know I’m self harming. But my brother C is amazing and when I worked up the courage to tell him what I’d done he was completely supportive. I’m lucky to have him.

      I should try a crisis line – I don’t think it will help because even trained professionals struggle to help me, but I’ve never tried so I can’t say that for sure.

      I hope your visit to the brain clinic went okay.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Rea, I have to echo Rachel: this is a big deal. I am worried about you. I wish so much I could help. You are such a good, caring person. You don’t deserve to be hurt like that! I get it about self-harm, the repetitive thoughts, the need for it. You know I’ve got some experience in that department. But this is much more serious and awakens in me all sorts of desire to reach out and protect and comfort you. If only I could.

    I hope someone called from the psychiatrist’s office.

    More than anything, I am sorry you are feeling so much physical and emotional hurt. Sending you hugs (cautious ones, not bumping your wrist).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You do, though – hearing that you care is immensely comforting. Be wary of sending hugs – I may knock you over by flinging myself at you. I probably need a hug right now, I think.

      Still no contact from the psychiatrist, which doesn’t help to allay my concerns about her not being the right fit for me. Not that I told them I was in the middle of a crisis, to be fair, but a week just to let me know about availability doesn’t seem like a promising sign. Back to the drawing board, I guess.


      1. Please tell them it’s a crisis. It is okay to reach out and ask for help. That is what E. is teaching me. Maybe she will respond. Not everyone does. Some people do, and then you know you have the right person. But especially when someone doesn’t know you, it’s easy for them to prioritize other things (like current clients) if they don’t know you have an urgent need.

        If she doesn’t respond to a crisis then yes, back to the drawing board.

        Sending more hugs. You won’t knock me over.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I guess I’m worried about being the girl who cried wolf – does it count as a crisis when the deed is already done? On the flip side, I’m already starting to think about what’s next: the swelling in my fingers has gone down, maybe I should hit them with a hammer?; is it time to get a gun so I can shoot myself in the leg? But that’s not imminent, so does it really count as a crisis? I don’t know, Q. I have no idea what I’m doing.


      3. It counts, my dear, really. It counts because it was a big deal to hurt yourself like that. And it counts because you still have these thoughts, even if you are not about to act on them.


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