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Monday, September 29, 2008 A.King, Community Member, asks

Q: Self-hitting

Cutters seem to have the psychology spotlight, but I tend to hit myself during bad episodes. Is this a "normal" BP reaction or do I have other issues as well?

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Answers (16)
John McManamy, Health Guide
9/30/08 11:48am

Hi, A.King. Self-harm (which may include hitting) is "normal" for borderline personality disorder. Self-destructive behavior also goes with the territory with borderline.

 

But this does not necessarily mean you are borderline.

 

You are a unique individual, and individuals never fall neatly into convenient diagnostic categories. Most of us with bipolar have bipolar "with some other stuff going on." Say, bipolar with a bit of anxiety, bipolar with a bit of ADD, bipolar with some behavior quirks, etc, etc.

 

When our moods run away from us, almost anything can happen. For instance, I've been married twice (that was a bad joke). We react to losing control of our brains and to personal distress in an infinity of ways unique to our personalities. The psych literature lists some of the most common (and hence stereotypical ones), but that doesn't invalidate how you may react.

 

But here's where diagnostic labels can help, even if you don't fit the diagnosis. Suppose, for instance, I get anxious just prior to flipping out (which happens with me). Obviously it would help to learn about anxiety and see what I can do to manage it.

 

So, in your case, it would help for you to research self-harm, which means checking out the literature on borderline, even if you don't have borderline. The borderline literature is bound to give you some insight into self-harm, as well as some pointers in how to manage it.

 

I am finding more and more these days that investigating other psychiatric illness - from anxiety to schizophrenia to personality disorders - is shedding light on all "the other stuff" that comes with my illness.

 

Hope this helps -

 

 

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raydes, Community Member
1/26/11 4:23am

I don't feel I have a bipolar problem. When I think of something I have done that I consider embarrassing or stupid I tend to slap myself, I know that this is not a normal reaction but I strongly believe it is not bipolar. Why am I so bothered by my past or even recent past.  I hate to make any mistakes in front of people maybe I just need to be less harsh on myself. I am also begining to talk to myself more often about a lot of things in my mind, things I should have said to someone or something I should have said about a situation.

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swk, Community Member
12/ 2/11 6:17pm

Nice to kno i'm not the only one.  I've been extremely self-conscious since I was a child. As i've gotten older I tend to be harder on myself to the point of hatred, which makes me want to beat the sh*t outta myself

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rascus2010, Community Member
12/10/11 10:12pm

You aren't the only one. I just got done beating the crap out of my arm.

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Narelle, Community Member
9/29/08 10:15pm

When highly agitated (usually elevated as well) I used to hit walls, throw things etc. Was never a "cutter" but had a few goes at what I called "making it all stop".

Once I got my foot stuck in a wall i'd kicked at home.

I dunno about normal - we are all different. What does your Dr think, are you on any medication to help with this tendency to hurt yourself - someting on the calming end of the spectrum of meds?

N

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Linda, Community Member
10/ 2/08 5:54pm

Self-mutilation does mostly take the form of "cutting", as they love to show in a Lifetime movie.  However, the need to harm oneself does take many forms.  In my low moments, particularly when I have been drinking wine (a depressant for me that is usually a necessary after a manic day) I have been known to slap myself a few times across the face.  I cannot say what is "normal", and no one can, but I am a bipolar woman who hits myself on occasion, and I can say that it is probably just self-harm done at a low moment.  I was actually pleased to see your question, since I thought I was the only one who did that.

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Gayle, Community Member
3/23/09 2:59am

I am a self-hitter. I am diagnosed as having clinical depression but most of the time I would say my depression is major depression.  I was glad to see Linda's response because I slap myself in the face, also.  And I've haven't found too much information or other people that slap their face, too.  I slap my face when I feel like I'm not doing what I should and I get mad at myself.  I have a lot of stress in my life, in constant pain, handicapped, problems with my husband's computer "women" and my mother who is chronically ill and now has cancer lives with me.  Depression runs in my family and I think my Dad, sisters and myself have no serotonin (sp).  So I think self-hitting or self injuring can be a part of several different mental illness diagnoses.  Also, I have seen counselors and it helps greatly.  But nothing yet has totally cured me of self slapping. 

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ShadyMilady, Community Member
5/ 5/09 5:34am

Well, I'm not sure where to start... it's 5am & I couldn't sleep.  I had a pretty bad self-hitting episode last week & I guess it was bothering me.  I hadn't "done that" in a while; then just 2 days ago, I had another, smaller self-injury.  So, I finally decided to look up something, ANYTHING!  And here I am.

 

I'll start off by saying that I have had depression for quite some time.  {Diagnosed} I'm not yet 30 & can unfortunately recall many times in my life that I truly just wanted to give up.  Tried, no one noticed.  I have been to a handful of professionals & therapists since childhood; I even asked a couple of them flat-out if I was BP, because my Mother told me a couple times that she thinks I am.  I was very hyper as a child, {yep, one of those ADHD kids that the DRs were so quick to diagnose back then} but had bouts of serious depression; to the point that I acted out.  But I mostly only "Acted out" when dealing with anger, frustration or anxiety; as opposed to when I was feeling my lowest.  (So what's that about?)

I haven't really ever had the desire to hit anyone else, and I guess I found *some* comfort in that.  But what started as banging my head repeatedly against a wall as hard as I could as kid, or throwing my latest LEGO creation on the floor & later regretting it, has now turned into me, as an "ADULT?" literally punching myself in the head & continually & with all my might hitting my thighs with a hammer.  {Which, by the way, had to be coaxed from me, as if it gave me comfort just to hold it, even after I was "Done."}

So what the HECK is wrong with me?!?!

I've pounded my arms with heavy objects, my thighs, my head... & I've already had multiple concussions; that surprisingly were NOT caused by my self-injuries, but other random nonsense.

 

I'll admit, I felt some relief finding this page.  All of your sharing made me want to vent a little, I hope that is okay here.  Also, The Expert's answer REALLY helped me.

 

I also found these sites that I am going to share with my boyfriend {poor guy} at a more decent hour...  ;~)

http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/who.html

http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/cause.html

 

Maybe they can help someone?

 

I'm sorry that I didn't really answer your question "A."  But it was your post that got me to "talk" about this for the first time.  I truly thank you for that.  Take care of yourselves!!  Everyone here seems like wonderful individuals with unique, yet similar, stories.

 

Again, Take Care.

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damagedgoods, Community Member
8/10/09 10:42pm

you're not alone. I've been a hitter most of my life. I don't know exactly why. I know that  I get a huge swell of anxiety usually caused by a mistake of some sort that I've made and the only way to kill the anxiety is to "punish" myself. Iwill punch myself in the face. When I was young and had braces, I mould make sure my braces were imbedded in my lip. As I got older, I graduated to severe black eyes. I guess I'm not alone...

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swk, Community Member
12/ 2/11 6:14pm

I can't believe how familiar this is to me. I myself have not been self-hitting very long, but I do remember getting the urge to do so as a child, whenever I felt like I was "bad."  I don't really understand this because I was never hit as a child. but I can definitely relate to the hitting.  I've bruised myself many times and put big bumps on my head. My husband worries about this when he sees it but there's so much he doesn't see because I'm embarrassed and ashamed and he's not the most sensitive person. he probably thinks I do it because I'm over-dramatic.       

I can also relate to the life-long depression. My family doesn't really acknowledge mental illness so I felt lonely and weird for years.  I too have wanted to give up and have tried---but no one noticed.  this only confirms to me how alone I am in the world.  Not really sure why I hit myself-maybe I wish I could hit others. I think it has something to do with guilt and extreme regret

      

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Hailey, Community Member
6/20/09 7:23am

Self-harm for me is a new beahvior. I feel ridiculous admitting that I have just begun to engage in self harm. I indentify with those under extreme stress; I lost my job 8 months ago, my youngest has been hospitalized twice, 3 of our 6 member familhy is diagnopsed bipolar, my husband is disabled etc etc.... I view my self-harm as punishment for letting myself sink so low. In the past month I have hit myself in the face with the telephone, banged my arms into walls, used a razor blade, and beat my arms with dried rose bush sticks. I know that the brain releases a feel good reaction to most who engage in self-harm, but I just feel that I deserve the punishment.

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GetBackUp, Community Member
9/16/09 10:43pm

I've been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, not BP.  I don't know if hitting is ever normal.   I have never even thought about hitting or hurting someone else, which in my eyes is what some "normal" people want to do.  

 

I am learning that I have triggers.  As a kid I would cry and get so frustrated when my mom would hit or humiliate me that I would hit myself.  In my first marriage, to the kindest man on earth, I would do the same OCCASSIONALLY when I was frustrated or afraid that he would abandon me (which he NEVER did).  Now I'm in a second marriage to a mentally abusive, sneaky-cheater and I hit myself more frequently than ever.  It usually comes after he lies to me, then criticizes me in a way that sends me into a serious state of worthlessness.  Then come the suicidal thoughts.  Those moments of dispair when I have no control and my husband ridicules me are the worst.   But if I am away from him, I am almost OK.  I am a functioning corporate professional with 3 wonderful kids and the rest of the world sees me as a nice, healthy person with a very creepy husband.   I'm not certain that I will be able to get away from the extreme crying or hittimng myself all together since I've experienced it in the three most intimate relationships of my life.   I can only pray alot and take my meds.

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marichiara, Community Member
7/25/13 11:57pm

I feel you! I really hope you can get yourself out of that relationship and find a new and better husband!

 

I'm not married yet, but I have been in a relationship with an emotional abuser and that is when my self-harming started. This relationship made me realize that my father was abusing my mother while I was growing up, and that this guy was treating me exacly the same way my dad treated my mom. She has been struggeling with severe depression for years, and years, and she is just an empty vessel and no longer herself. I'm really scared that I am following in her footsteps. 

 

Luckily my relationship ended, although he still heeps harrasing me,belliteling, humiliate, and critisize me online. He goes out of his way to make me feel awful. Those are the times when I start self-harming, hitting my self on the head repeatedly. I have also had periods where I have isolated myself and self-medicated with alcohol. I'm scared that I'm developing alcoholism, so I'm trying to get myself together, and I'm staying away from drinking. 

 

It's really great to hear that you can function professionally! I'm in my late 20's and I have just started my career. This relationship really damaged a lot of oppurtunities for me, so it's good and inspirational to hear that someone else with these problems still is able to function at work. My problem is also that my ex is in the same profession, and I am more successful than him. Everytime I get a promotion or something goes my way, he will write something humiliating about me online on his Twitter account. Just innuendos at this point, but still it affects me. I really wish I wasn't so dependent on him. I wish I could cleans myself of him, and just start over.  

 

 

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marichiara, Community Member
7/26/13 12:04am

Lots of spelling mistakes here, I'm sorry. I had a really bad day today, I woke up this morning hitting myself on the head and crying. I hope there is an end to this. 

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droplet, Community Member
9/26/10 5:50pm

I have the same reaction in when I'm really agitated.  I would also like to know more about it.

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Littlesouris, Community Member
2/20/12 4:45am

I'm completely undiagnosed.

 

I punch my thighs (hard) slap my face (very hard) and bite my own fingers (as in clamping down as hard as I can)

 

This happens when I feel I have been "abandoned" or "rejected" by my partner. It only happens then, never when I am alone. It comes in the spur of the moment, if he refuses to talk to me or makes it clear he is feeling disdain.

 

I have never cut, but I have suicidal thoughts about stabbing at the same time as I'm self-harming.

 

I just want it to end.

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lost.., Community Member
6/ 7/14 9:39am

That's when I'm at my worst feeling abandoned and rejected unfortunatley that comes with splitting up with someone as I have had happen in the last month I want so badly to pick myself back up but I can't so atm im in bed with a  black eye and cuts over my stomach I feel so alone and can't help but punish myself for not being good enough 

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Littlesouris, Community Member
2/20/12 4:46am

I'm completely undiagnosed.

 

I punch my thighs (hard) slap my face (very hard) and bite my own fingers (as in clamping down as hard as I can)

 

This happens when I feel I have been "abandoned" or "rejected" by my partner. It only happens then, never when I am alone. It comes in the spur of the moment, if he refuses to talk to me or makes it clear he is feeling disdain.

 

I have never cut, but I have suicidal thoughts about stabbing at the same time as I'm self-harming.

 

I just want it to end.

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Dsocb, Community Member
6/16/12 5:40pm
Hi. I self harm by punching my face and and currently sporting 2 massive black eyes. (for not reason) I am 34 and have been doing this for 19 years. I am a happily married mum of 3 and have a "quiet" life. I am at present seeing health visitors and consultant psychiatrists. (again). My aunt is BP but I am yet to be diagnosed with nothing but depression. I am very Low and only hit myself when alone. My hubby is very patient. I take a lot of meds 225mg of venleflaxine and 10mg of diazepam to control my panic attacks. I am glad however to read I am not alone. God bless us all that we get through this eventually. Reply
vitamins will help, Community Member
7/ 4/12 10:29am

This is the first time I have ever posted or responded to anything on the internet. I am 40 years old, was diagnosed with BP II when I was 30 yrs old. For the past 10 years I have been on every antidepressant drug available. I take a cocktail of pills ~ which I hate.



I watched a documentary, that explains we (Americans typically) don't get enough vitamins in our diet so adding vitamin supplements can help us greatly. I now take handfuls of vitamins three times a day...for the most part I feel extraordinary! I gradually started to wean off my meds (my doctor said no I shouldn't do this...I had to come up with a plan myself). After 45 days I'm completely off Zoloft, down to 50mg of Lamictal and only 1mg of Clonazepam.

 

Everything was going great until some very upsetting news came to our family. My son and his wife are separating and my 9 month old grandson will be living with his mother. An incident happened that caused her to be very upset with me over babysitting. This was the first stressful event since going off my meds.

 

I got so absolutely upset that I couldn't breathe...my chest was tight, I had to take deep breathes...I was trying to relax. Tears were streaming down my face and I couldn't see, thoughts were racing through my head. I had an overwhelming feeling of needing to punish myself...to feel pain, real physical pain. I punched myself in the face three times ~ that seemed to help for a brief moment but then I found myself slapping my face! And hitting my thighs with my fists and banging on my chest. My husband came to see what I was doing and tried to stop me ~ I started to punch him, but eventually fell into a big bear hug...which ended this punishing episode.

 

I have in the past had episodes of slapping myself in the head but this was the first time for an all-out, hard as I can punch to the face...and not just once but three times. I have a swollen cheekbone that is now black and blue. I also have bruises on both legs and on my chest.

 

So I think I was feeling desperate and didn't know how to handle my feelings, and like a child who doesn't get their way, I had a temper tantrum ~ adult style. This made me realize I need to get counseling to learn how to deal with emotions. From being on meds for so many years...I forgot how to feel actual emotions. It seems to me antidepressants dull your ability to feel...anything. No depression (which is good) but also no anger, happiness, guilt, sadness, sexual drive, etc. which is why I so badly want to never take another pill again!

 

  

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WCELY, Community Member
10/25/13 12:16pm

I'm another self hitter.  I ball up my fist and hit the top, sides or forehead the way you'd knock on a door repeatedly.  I feel like I do it out of frustration, either at myself for screwing up or when other people or things bother me.  I'm afraid it's gotten to where it's normal for me and it's my comfort when things aren't going my way. 

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WCELY, Community Member
10/25/13 12:18pm

I'm another self hitter.  I ball up my fist and hit the top, sides or forehead the way you'd knock on a door repeatedly.  I feel like I do it out of frustration, either at myself for screwing up or when other people or things bother me.  I'm afraid it's gotten to where it's normal for me and it's my comfort when things aren't going my way. I should seek help but I have trouble admitting to others that I have this problem.  When I've gone to a psychologist in the past, I have problems opening up even though I know they won't repeat it and won't judge me and it's the only way to get better.  It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who does this.

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MATTHEW, Community Member
1/15/14 1:05pm

IT IS SO COMFORTING TO KNOW IM NOT THE ONLY ONE .  TEARS FLOW THOURGH MY EYES AS I READ EVERY POST . WHAT IN GODS NAME IS WRONG WITH US 

 

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Mitch, Community Member
12/ 5/13 7:24pm

Hello,

I am diagnosed "depressed" but since then have moved to a new town so a new doctor who thinks a bit of counselling will "do me right" I also fell pregnant and have since had my partner leave me, so now I am pregnant and unable to take my normal meds so when I have an "episode" it all starts off with feeling betrayed or stupid, turns into thoughts that everyone thinks I am stupid, turns into me hitting myself in the temple with the bottom of my hand, turns into depressive music and suicidal thoughts and the only way to snap one of my episodes is to go to sleep. With a 6yo and another due in April I cannot afford to be like this but the thought of getting help etc or being reassessed seems absolutely impossible. either way mate you are not on your own with the hitting I often wonder why about it too but I prefer it over me cutting again.

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MATTHEW, Community Member
1/15/14 5:20pm

SO IM AT A VERY LOW POINT IN MY LIFE . I WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN CAUSE I FEEL I CANT TELL NO ONE . I HAVE STUGGLED FOR YEARS WITH ANGER. BREAKING THINGS , DOSNT MATTER WHAT . WIND SHIELDS,TV,LAP TOPS ,PHONES GALOR IT DOSNT MATTER , HELL I BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF MY SELF .  WHY CAUSE I GET MAD , I DONT UNDERSTAND IT , ITS NOT NORMAL . SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS A FUN PS3 GAME AND CAUSE ME TO BLOW UP AND HIT MY SELF. AND IT HURTS , NICE MAN PUNCHES .  BUT MOSTLY FIGHTS WITH THE GIRL I LOVE. WE HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR 7 YEARS,TWO KIDS AND MAJOR UPS AND DOWNS.  I KNOW I WENT THOUGH AROUND 3 YEARS OF NOT BEING THE MAN I SHOULD TO HER . JUST NOT INCLUDING HER , AND NOT WANTING SEX. AND JUST BEING THERE WITH NOTHING TO GIVE . AND IT WAS WRONG . AND I SEE IT NOW .  I WAS SOMEWERE BUT NOT WITH HER . I WAS JUST HANGING AROUND I GUESS. AND THEN ONE DAY I REALIZED WHAT I WAS DOING AND IT WASNT RIGHT . AND I WANTED TO MAKE IT BETTER . AND REALLY STARTED TRYING . AND NOW IT SEEMS ITS TO LATE. WE JUST ARE NOT THE SAME . I HAVE MANY GOALS FOR THIS YEAR , ANGER AND FAMILY ARE ON THE TOPS.  SO IM MAKING THESE MOVES TO BE BETTER THIS WHOLE TIME SHE IS KEEPING HER PHONE LOCKED AND TO ME IT MEANS SHE IS HIDING SOMETHING. AND SHE WANT LET ME KNOW THE CODE AND I CANT  HELP BUT THINK SHE IS HIDING SOMETHING AND I JUST CANT MOVE ON WITH IT , IT EATS AT ME DAILEY AND NIGHTLY . I USED TO NEVER BE JEALOUS AND NOW ALL I THINK ABOUT IS HER AND THE DAMM LOCKED PHONE AND ITS LIKE I CANT MOVE ON WITH IT . IT OVERWHELMS MY OTHER GOALS .  I CANT SHAKE IT OR MOVE ON , THIS IS A DEMON IM NOT USED TO  AND IT WITH MY ANGER IS HORRID 

 

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By A.King, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/07/14, First Published: 09/29/08