Today is Self Harm Awareness Day

I wrote a piece for IBF awhile back that they use in their resource section, and one for Psych Central as well. Here I will sum those up a little.


While I see the progress that we have made in understanding, treating and accepting mental illness, there is still a mountain of misinformation that is being expressed when it comes to self-harm, and I believe one of the reasons for that misinterpretation is because we’re just not talking about it enough.

Why aren’t we talking about it? Because it’s scary, uncomfortable and oftentimes distressing, and we don’t know how to fix it; but the reality is that it’s happening, and chances are it’s happening a lot more than you realize.

The silver lining here is that there is hope, there is always hope. Before we get to the resources and ways to cope and heal, we need to establish fact from myth.

A lot of people are under the illusion that self-harm is defined by that emo or goth teenager dressed in black that keeps to themselves, when in reality, self-harm does not discriminate, it’s just like mental illness in that aspect, but it is not exclusive to people who have a diagnosis of mental illness.


Self-harm can effect anyone from any background, race or gender. However, studies have shown that there is a higher risk category for people to self-harm, these include but are not limited to:

    • Young people between the ages of 12-25
    • Inmates held in prisons or detention facilities
    • The elderly who live in extended care facilities
    • Individuals who are battling addiction, whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, and so on.
    • Individuals who have a diagnosis of an eating disorder or an anxiety disorder
    • Gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals

The thing that I find most upsetting when it comes to people who are ignorant about self-harm is that many of them take the stance that it is an attention seeking behaviour. This could not be further from the truth. Granted there are some people who do things for attention such as in the case of munchausen syndrome, but the majority of people who self-harm go to great lengths to hide what they do.

Well why do we stumble upon images of people’s wounds on social media? Chance are that those people are actually asking for help but they can’t find the words to say it out loud, instead the images speak for them, “here is the proof, please help me.”

Some people just can’t wrap their heads around the idea of someone deliberately engaging in an act that would cause them pain, hurt, and potential fatal consequences, which brings us to the question, why would people choose to self-harm?

I wish I could give you a straightforward textbook answer to this question but the reality is that there are countless reasons why someone would turn to harming themselves as a coping mechanism.

It’s not quite the same thing as someone turning to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, but to make it easier to understand, you can kind of put it on the same scale. Some of the reasons that people self-harm are as follows, but not limited to:

    • Feelings of intense emotional pain or distress
    • A way to turn emotional pain into physical painFeeling numbness, using self-harm as a way to feel something
    • Pressure from others, not knowing how to cope
    • Bullying
    • Flashbacks or painful memories
    • Confusion about sexuality
    • Abuse of any kind: sexual, physical or emotional
    • Loss of control over emotions or situations

Another misconception that arises when someone self-harms is that they are suicidal. While it is believed that people who engage in self-harm behaviours are eventually at a greater risk of attempting suicide, that does not mean that they were intending to end their life at the time of the action; but there is always the chance of people hurting themselves more than they had intended to which can result in death.

Some people sadly even brush off self-harm if they deem that the injuries are not serious enough to warrant concern.

The severity of the injury to the pain that someone is experiencing is not comparable at all, end of story. It doesn’t matter if someone has scratched themselves or tried to poison themselves, self-harm is self-harm, there is no scale to measure how important or unimportant you believe it to be.

When the majority of people hear self-harm they think of cutting when in reality there are so many different methods that people use. Here are just some of those methods:

    • Cutting
    • Burning
    • Scratching
    • Bruising
    • Pulling hair
    • Taking pills or ingesting harmful substances
    • Inserting objects into body
    • Breaking bones

One of the scariest things is finding out that someone you care about is hurting themselves. You’re going to go through so many different emotions in such a short amount of time and that will floor you; there is no argument there. But, there are ways to ease your pain and make sure that you are okay.

The first thing that you must realize is that you can’t fix them. You can’t tell them to stop and expect them to do so, think of that as telling someone with depression to “snap out of it” because it’s pretty much the same thing.

What you can do if you suspect that someone that you care about is harming himself or herself is simply to ask them. I promise you that if they aren’t doing it, asking them isn’t going to make them start, but it will open up a dialogue for you to have a really important conversation.

If you find out that someone is in fact hurting themselves never be judgmental. You must look past the behaviour and see the person. Ask them what is going on in their life that could be causing this behaviour.

Self-harm is a coping mechanism, albeit a very unhealthy one, but one it is. If they don’t want to talk, don’t push it but let them know that you are there to listen. Encourage them to seek help from a therapist or doctor.

You must understand that the road to recovery is littered with relapse and giving ultimatums is one of the worst things that you can do.

Above all you have to take care of yourself! This is a huge thing for you to deal with. Arm yourself with knowledge and resources, but make sure that you have someone to confide in.

If you are the one who is self-harming, please don’t give up. I promise you that you can recover from this. I’m not just another person blowing smoke at you; I’m someone who used self-harm as an unhealthy coping mechanism for ten years.

It’s been seven years now since I’ve hurt myself. You can do this!

The first thing that you must understand is that relapse is a very real possibility and if it happens it doesn’t mean that you can’t start over again.

The hardest thing about choosing to get well is that you have to want it. You have to put in the effort and you have to fight for it. You must make a commitment to do this. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie, but it’s doable and you are worth it.

One of the best things that I did was talk to people who were in recovery from self-harm, they gave me hope and I realized that I wasn’t alone and that I could find healthy coping techniques.


Here are some alternatives for you. Instead of hurting yourself, give these a try:

    • Write your feelings down and then tear them up. Feelings come and go and you don’t need to keep re-reading something that is upsetting or triggering.
    • Move around. Exercising or dancing releases endorphins in your brain that make you happy.
    • Run ice cubes down your arms or legs
    • Freeze an orange and then hold it in your fingertips for a brief time
    • Draw a picture of yourself and mark it where you want to hurt yourself.
    • Scream and yell out your frustrations
    • Throw some pillows around; punch them if you have to.
    • Color or paint, make it as pretty or ugly as you want.
    • Make something, anything.
    • Fill a mason jar with colored water and glitter; shake it when you’re stressed.
    • Ask for help, it’s a hard thing to do but also one of the bravest and strongest.

There are so many resources out there to help you understand self-harm and get help for it, here are a few:

The Butterfly Project – for preventing a relapse
Self Mutilators Anonymous
Timber Knolls

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

You can get help, you can get well, and you can find your balance, I promise. I battled this for ten years and it wasn’t easy, but I did it, and if I can then so can you. Never be afraid to ask for help; it’s one of the bravest things you can ever do. You are never alone.


Thank You – Charlene/Lorna Evol

It has taken me a great while to find the peace to say the words that I knew I needed to. Many long dark nights and cold days have brought me to this place to speak to you. I’m sure you are expecting searing words to pour from the pain you caused me. It would be a lie to say that there are not many tear stained pages filled with that anger, but today I came to say Thank You.

You and your actions, as cold and cruel as they were, saved me. I can’t deny you acted in complete selfishness, but you gave me something that will never be taken away. You taught me how to dig down deep into my soul and find the will to fight. It was a hard lesson and so many times more of a curse than a gift, but I came out the other side.

Thank you for tearing me apart so I could learn to love all my broken pieces and put myself back together again. Thank you for rejecting my love. It showed me how truly precious and valuable it is. I came to understand that I am special because you gave me a sense of worthlessness. I didn’t write these words to burn you with hatred. I write these words to release you with forgiveness.

I’m sure you expected me to despise you, but you gave me the gift of compassion out of your abuse and apathy. I just wanted to say Thank You!




Charlene Trolinder aka Lorna Evol is a small town kid born and raised in Dumas, TX. She fought all her childhood to survive, born with a rare chromosomal disease. She attended West Texas A&M, where she obtained a Bachelor’s in Psychology. It was later in life that she realized she struggled with severe depression and anxiety. Each day is a battle, but she loves the simple things. She is an avid reader and animal lover. She draws her inspiration from her struggles, and she tries to give hope to others through her words.

Follow Lorna’s beautiful words on Evocative Eloquence.


It’s an awesome thing, the becoming
of you, and you are bound
to make them uncomfortable; leave them
to their discomfort, for you,
oh you, blossom beautifully
within their fires.

© Nicole Lyons 2017

You are never alone – Sarah Jean Bowers

Depression and anxiety
Encompass more than sadness,
Fumbling hands,
and racing heartbeats.

It’s missed deadlines,
Canceled plans,
drawn blinds to block the sun,
prayers to make it to dawn.

It’s silence
after breakdowns,
Bruised knees
From praying
for peace.
It’s lying in the fetal position,
drowning in a sea of tears.

It’s succumbing to grief
And the lies it sometimes tells.
It’s heartache
holding you down.
It’s searching for answers
at the bottom of the bottle
when you sometimes hate
the taste of air.

But it doesn’t have to be permanent.
Your strength is stronger
than that which holds
you down.

You know the taste of
resilience and perseverance.
It’s as sweet as
the sun when
You finally step outside
and she kisses
your face.

You have touched hearts
with your bravery,
Unknowingly healing
others’ wounds
when they realize
they are not alone.

The stigma is fear’s best friend.
Don’t let it paralyze you.

This world has
hands to hold,
With journeys and
Similar to your own.

You, beautiful soul, are never alone.

© Sarah Jean Bowers 2017


Sarah Jean Bowers is a poet, old soul, and resilient warrior.

At the age of eight, she lost her mother in a tragic car accident. She self-medicated with poetry and began to put words to the feelings that held her down. Twenty years later her father died in an accident. She attempted to soldier through, but PTSD and anxiety forced her to take a step back, slow down, and start to heal her wounds. She listened to her body and finally took the time she needed to find steady ground and a purpose to live her life to the fullest.

She has turned her tragedy into poetry with the intention of empowering and healing others with her words. You can find her poetry on Facebook and Instagram.

I Love Your Colours

Some of my strongest bonds have been forged with people who have cracked the foundation of my comfort zone. We rarely agree on things like politics and protests, but we do agree that words hold power and art saves lives. We all view life differently; through eyes coloured by our own circumstances, whether those be selfish or selfless. Perhaps our sense of morality or duty dictates how we live our lives. For some of us, a deep spiritual awareness is the center of our world while logic and reason rule for others, and who are we to judge one another for how we view the world? You see, my shades of grey look nothing like theirs and for that I am grateful, because they have painted my world beautiful with all of their brilliant colours. And had they all lived in this world looking through eyes exactly like mine my foundation would still be solid, but I wouldn’t.

© Nicole Lyons 2017

Winds of Change





I have nurtured

the seeds

of resistance

planted in my bones

long ago.

Roots grown

swift and mighty,

a solid foundation

of iron

stands me firm

and holds me true.


of resilience

climb the length

of my spine-straight.


down arms

of hope and

hands of peace,

raised in wait,

to embrace

a revolution.


rides the back

of howling winds,

and if seeds

of hatred

are all you have


the tempest will

eat you alive.



Nourish Your Soul – Shareen Mansfield

I am so pleased to welcome the brilliant and beautiful Shareen Mansfield to The Lithium Chronicles. I absolutely love Shareen and everything that she does at Open Thought Vortex, and for everyone who crosses her path.

Welcome to TLC, Shareen.

Nourish Your Soul

by Shareen Mansfield

I haven’t written much the past few months. The last time I really wrote, my world imploded and extinguished my ability to cope with anything. Writing was supposed to be an outlet for me. In the past writing, reading, music, even watching television would snap me out of whatever this is. I don’t know what “this” is. I know I am miserable. I know I can’t keep doing this. I know I have to eat. I have to drink. I have to take care of my children. I have to take care of my husband. I have to care of my dog. I have to take care of my cat. I have to take care of my bills. I have to take care of everything. Problem is I don’t care at all right now. Maybe this is a nervous breakdown. My eating disorder is the worst it has been. I spent so much time taking care of so many people I lost the ability to recognize my own needs. Last week I was so dehydrated I lost my voice.


During the weeks prior, my time was spent researching a no sodium diet for my husband’s uncle. Everyone around me comes to me with questions or for support. I’m used to this. I love it, feeling wanted, appreciated, most especially recognized for what I do best. I fell apart when all my research was discarded. Ignored. Pushed away. Why ask me for help to only disregard it all? I stopped eating and drinking, driving my eating disorder back into a rock-bottom-go-to-the-emergency-room situation. I’m okay now. I’m not fantastic. I’m not wonderful.


To be honest, I ate a half piece of toast with a bottle of Gatorade today. That is still the bare minimum. Still unhealthy. If I continue at this rate, I will land myself back in a coma as I did several years ago. Why is this happening? I’ve had a lot of time to think about this while the doctors examined me. I’m lucky. Since my coma, collapsed lung, and that God awful septic shock ravished my body, I have been on a restricted “activity” order by the doctors. I gained weight when I stopped running. When my eating disorder reared its ugly head, this time I was overweight enough allowing me time to recognize what I was doing to myself. Why did I stop eating? Stop writing? Stop caring?


I blame myself for the actions/reactions of others around me. I failed to see something so simple. I always lend my support to others. Services I should charge for I provide out of kindness. I donate my time, even money to others who need it. I let myself get used. The truth is I am really pissed off right now. When someone asks a favor of me or advice, I go out of my way to make sure I am giving the best of me to them. I am pissed because I feel betrayed. I feel raped. I feel lost. I feel beaten. Turns out I do have feelings. Saying I don’t care is all a lie. I like to make people happy. No, I need to make people happy or better or sane or relaxed. My world revolves around everyone around me.


I’m going to be honest here. Only a few of my friends have ever done anything to actually help me. Two friends/family members knew I was hurting, wrote beautiful poems for me. Another friend texts me daily to make sure I am ok, even calls my husband if I don’t answer her right away. My oldest friend texts me “Wood” at least four times a day as an inside joke we’ve shared for over 15 years. I do feel used. I feel taken advantage of. I give so much of me so freely I forget I am disabling myself. One friend came to the hospital, even went to court with me when a friend I had to quit thought everything I wrote was about her. It wasn’t. It was creative nonfiction. I had to request a Protection From Stalking Order against her.


I care so much about not hurting others that on the day we went to court, despite all the “unfortunate incidents,” damage of my property, and harassing calls that had been going on for weeks, I asked the judge to dismiss my request for the PFS so that friend I quit could get well in order to have her children back in her life. She agreed to leave me alone, to not harass me only to have one of her friends later send me message on Facebook trying to extort and threaten me.


Let me come clean on a few things here: No one can hurt me if I tell the truth. The threats she levied against me don’t bother me because they are lies. Easily disproven by professionals and witnesses. Not even friends of mine. A random poll of people around me would disprove everything she thought she “had” on me. Why am I feeling so hurt? So lost?


Right now, I am not lost. I know exactly what is happening and why. I let myself be used. People I trusted never offered to donate their time to help me. Never did anything because it was the right thing to do. Never did it without tallying up what I owed if they did it. I wasn’t keeping tabs. The hours I spent, the energy, the research, even the inspiration I provided helped them while killing me.


What have I learned from this? I’ve learned that I stopped eating because my mouth is part of the communication process. I did not want to open or use my mouth at all. I felt I had to gag myself, even stop eating because if I don’t communicate in any way no one can use me anymore.


The deepest betrayal comes from those you trust the most. That’s what happened to me. I did not know how to ask for help. I reached out to another blogger/friend, a person so articulate, so brilliant, so compassionate. I reached out to say I need help. I don’t know how to ask. I don’t know what I need. I’m not eating. I am dying slowly. Within seconds she was shooting it straight. Take care of you. Whatever you need, I will help. Fuck writing, she said. Take care of you. Let’s see if we can work together to get you what you need.


I felt I had to ask permission to ask for help. To ask for a break. Permission to shut down, deal with my health. My fears, my pain, my real tragedies happening around me. My severe anxiety disorder off the charts as I was texting her, my heart raced to 155 BPM. I was still wearing my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor and Forerunner. I was pacing. I wasn’t chewing my nails. Chewing my nails would mean using my mouth. Instead I used nippers, shredding my fingers till they bled. Fingers like raw meat, blood on my nightgown, blood on my phone.


I had thrown my phone outside earlier in the evening. Placed my MacBook Pro in the composite bin shortly after that. I wasn’t going to write or communicate. I felt someone had raped me again; this time the rape was of my mind, my advice. I knew I was giving more than I was getting.
Luckily, my husband saw me sobbing in the corner of our bedroom. Watched as my dog whimpered, pawing at me, licking my tears as they gurgled and sputtered out of me. Luckily, I trusted my friend, I reached out to others who knew me, really knew me. I asked for help for the first time in my life. That’s it. I reached out to find several hands ready to pull me out of the fire I was burning in.


Today, today is an okay day. I know I am not “well.” I know I have to set alarms to eat, drink, sleep, rest, cook, thrive. I added “thrive” there at the end. In order for me to thrive I have to stop giving so much of me away. . . I’m an all or nothing person. I am working on the middle now. I want to thrive, see my children, feel them, connect with those that matter to me.


Starting today I end my fear of asking. I end my fear of saying “No.” I start fresh, expressing myself as I always have, with honesty and humor. I don’t have to throw myself away to be me. I just need to recognize that I am more than “useful.”


I am allowed to feel overwhelmed.


I am allowed to break.


I am resilient.
Shareen Mansfield is the founder and publisher of Open Thought Vortex Magazine. When she isn’t pounding the pavement into submission with her excessively lovely feet, she spends her days redefining what it means to be an ally, survivor, mother and friend. Basically, she’s all-around awesome. Her work has recently appeared in Role Reboot, Raising Mothers and The Honeyed Quill. You can find her every Friday on Facebook and Twitter co-hosting #LinkYourLife with the verve of a social media dominatrix.

You Don’t Know Me – Dianne Hoffmeyer



You think you know me?

You don’t.

You think I’m the same woman from a few years back?

Not even close.

You think I’m still quiet, subservient, timid and fragile?

Afraid Not.

You think I’m just going to let you do and say what you want to me?

Think again…


I can see through your lies and bullshit.

I was taught by the very best.

I know your game of manipulation, you’re a player, but now I am a coach.

I know how to be strong, because that’s all I’ve ever been since I put myself back together- alone.

I am neither quiet, nor am I timid.


I say it like it is, I am proud of who I am,

I do not like to fight, but I am not afraid to bleed.


I use my voice to rise above the lies and rumors and gossip that is said about me.


No, I know exactly who I am.


I am not scared to be myself, I am not scared to be alone, I am not scared for my future even though I don’t know what’s in store for me.


I stitched my pain, my tears, my blood,

my anger, my sadness and my loneliness together with such a durable string, that no matter how hard I am tugged on,

pulled on, stretched, dropped,

ignored, abandoned, and no longer loved

so well, that I have MADE the woman you see today.


I am everything you hate, I am all kinds of hurt, I draw strength from solitude, my ideas are formed from isolation. I am loved by myself, for myself, with no motives, with no deceptions, with no lies.


So before you think you know me,

Think again.

© Dianne Hoffmeyer 2016


Dianne is an amazing woman; to call her “strong” or “brave” doesn’t cover the half of it. Dianne is a fighter. Blessed with nine beautiful children, she has lived through every mother’s worst nightmare, the death of her child, and she has done it twice.

As a survivor of domestic violence, Dianne found the courage to put her ex husband behind bars, after he shot and stabbed her.

Clean for seven years, Dianne is a recovering addict who in her words, “kept breaking out of handcuffs” until she realized it was time to stop.

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and PTSD, Dianne is also in advanced stages congestive heart failure. To say she is brave and strong doesn’t do her justice.

Dianne found happiness with her soul mate and was recently married. Her kids are her life, and every decision she makes is made in hope that it is the right one and guides them down the right path in their lives.

The life of love she tries to live each day is a legacy she hopes her kids will live, learn, and never forget.

3am Thoughts – Matthew D. Eayre

There comes a time to say goodbye to who somebody is, and let go of who you wanted them to be.

My grandmother told me this when I was too young to understand, but I have remembered. I was heartbroken (I thought) over a girl who meant everything to me (I thought) and I asked,

“why won’t she let me love her?”


My grandmother patted me on my hands and looked into my eyes as she told me. I did not want to be alone, and that was the whole story for me. What I wanted, what I felt. It took me over twenty years to really understand, to see what she meant.


I have my feelings, my thoughts, my inescapable wants. I have my rules for life, my desires and my insane needs, I have only my own learned lessons to use, and what I needed to know then, as a teenage romantic, is the same thing I need to know now.


Other people have their own selves…they want. They need. They see from where they have hurt, they cry over their own unfulfilled urges, they choose their own rules and sometimes (all the time) they will choose not to give me what I want. I can give my real heart to whomever I choose but the choice to take that love and give love back is not mine to make


My sister just died, crossing the street late at night, hit by someone with no idea how that moment would change things for her, for her daughters and grandchildren, for her brothers and sisters. She did not want to die that night, of that I’m sure. She died almost immediately after being struck, on the blacktop of a city street, she never got to say goodbye to all of the people that loved her. When I was a child Ruane was my favorite, I know it’s not considered nice to have favorites but I did and she was. She was shiny, she was outspoken and fierce, she was loyal and loving. She looked out for me, almost eleven years older than me, she made me feel so special, to her, to her. I realized recently that was just her way, through her whole twisted life, she tried to make other people feel special, to feel loved, but when I was young I felt isolated and strange…I was not like anyone I knew and they knew it, I was too quiet or too different, she tried so hard to show me that I was good enough, better, she wanted me to feel secure in myself. As a teenager I lived with her and her husband, I cared for my nieces during the day and we had adventures together. She was the first person I looked up to, I wanted her fire. She had a way of immediately making friends with people that I was so envious of… She could read people and know how to approach them, like a heart-whisperer she could make anyone love her as soon as they talked to her. I wanted that.



When I came of legal age, I tried to figure out how to pretend to be a normal person, working and paying bills and going out with people to have fun, asking girls (women) to date me, trying to make friends with whoever I met and…I was terrible at it. I was once again too different from other people, I said things in a strange way, I couldn’t speak the language like everyone else, my accent wasn’t right so people could tell I wasn’t like them.




Ruane tried to help me, she spent time with me and we talked about me…she tried to understand who I was so she could explain to me what I couldn’t see. She taught me so much about myself that I had never known, just by seeing me. As she went through her own problems she always reached back to me when I called, she always listened. I decided so many times to kill myself and I could never do it without saying goodbye to her, and she talked me down over and over. Once she introduced me to her friend’s kids and showed me how quickly they loved me… They were calling me Uncle Matt after about five minutes. She told me how that had always been me, younger kids had always liked me and accepted me, even when kids my age (and adults my age) could not. She saved my life that night by showing me my value. Another time she got angry at me and called me out, showing me how my own bullshit was holding me back. She always knew the right way to get through to me.


When she became an addict and started fucking her own life up, she tried to shut me out because she said she couldn’t deal with the disappointment I must have felt for her. I turned the tables that day and showed her what she had done for me…she showed me how to love, to support someone that is going through hard times. I tried to, anyway…


For years she was my lost angel, and she stayed away because she wanted to, and every time I thought of her I would think…maybe, maybe, she can feel me thinking of her and she’ll try to reach back…she never did. I never did. She couldn’t be what I wanted her to be, and I had to let go of that…I wonder now, two weeks after it’s too late to ask, did she want to come back to me? Was she waiting for me to call her or apologize or something else?


I wish I would have tried harder. I wish she would have. The day is gone now, the words are unsaid and that’s something I need to learn how to deal with…

There comes a time to say goodbye to who somebody is, and let go of who you wanted them to be.

Some day…

© Matthew D. Eayre


Matthew D. Eayre is a writer living in Denver with his wife and children. Refusing to exist as only one thing, he works as a supervisor in a delivery company while pursuing his BA in Accounting and chasing his dreams of making his voice heard in the world.

You can connect find more of Matthew’s stunning words at Matthew D. Eayre, Poetry of Monsters and on Instagram.

Purchase a copy of his extraordinary book here.


Crazy, Cancer & Chuckles

Last month Stephanie Bennett-Henry and I wrote something together that touches on Stigma. I was reluctant to post it for (get this) fear of offending people. How ridiculous is that? Pretty ridiculous considering the disgusting comments and jokes that people are making today, in regard to Sinead O’Connor.

I swear to God, some of you need to pass a test before using the Internet.

It’s May, which means it’s Mental Health Awareness month, and I tell you world, you fucking need it.

How funny would it be if I laughed as your daughter lay dying from cancer? What about your mother as she pukes up any strength she has left after dialysis? Maybe we could make a video that pokes fun at everyone who struggles to breathe in the middle of an asthma attack, bet we’d have a viral sensation on our hands there.

Your ignorance is showing, cover that shit up.



S&N illness