“I feel the knife going in
I’m feeling anxious
Not enough to kill me
I thought it’d happen fast
But I’m feeling it now and I feel anxious
Sleeping inches from me
I let it pass”
~Tegan and Sara
I am a huge Tegan and Sara fan. Their lyrics from the song Knife Going In really resonate with me. As someone who has struggled with self-injury, drugs, and anxiety, I know exactly how this feels. And to be honest, when I’m really anxious and struggling with urges to cut myself, this song is what plays through my head. Every. Single. Time.
Today was no exception. I don’t always get anxious when I’m in stores or public places, but when I walk in with high anxiety over something else, being in public pushes those high numbers to the max. After traveling with my toddler for 4 hours by myself today, sleep deprivation, a week full of flashbacks, and stressing over work starting back and not being able to go to yoga, my anxiety numbers were at an 8 this afternoon. For me, anything at a 7 or below is pretty manageable; once I hit an 8 or higher, the symptoms of my anxiety become very visible. When I’m in the 8-10 range, I struggle to control my breathing, I shake, I have difficulty focusing, I dissociate sometimes, and I get very withdrawn.
This afternoon, I walked into Target at an 8. I tried so hard to just focus on my grocery list (Yes, I grocery shop at Target – Super Target actually. It’s the best store ever. You can’t even argue with me on that because you know I’m right). On my list was body wash for my husband. If you regularly do all of your shopping at Super Target, you probably know that men’s body wash is down the same aisle as men’s shaving stuff. Now, this is an aisle that I make a conscious effort to avoid any time my numbers are higher than a 5. But today I didn’t really have a choice – my husband was out of body wash. I guess looking back, I could’ve just told him that it wasn’t safe for me to go down the shaving aisle today and he would have to go tomorrow….but I didn’t.
As I stood in the men’s shaving aisle, staring at the pack of Van Der Hagen Double-Edge Razorblades, I felt my eyes begin to sting with tears. In my head all I could hear was Tegan and Sara: “I feel the knife going in, I’m feeling anxious. Not enough to kill me.” In that moment, I wanted it so bad. I wanted more than anything in the world to cut; to drag the blade across my arm, making long, deep crimson lines.
I often wonder after these frantic instances of insanity occur in the middle of stores if the people walking by realize what is going through my mind. I wonder if they think I’m weird for crying in the middle of the shaving aisle. I wonder if it’s obvious that in those moments, I’m in this dissociated state where the whole world is a blur.
In case you’re wondering: No, I did not buy or use the razorblades.
I found my breath. Counted my inhales and exhales (in 5, out 7). Brought my awareness back to my list. Mindfully got the rest of the items on my list, and went home. I use my skills every day because I have to; without them, I am self-destructive. As much as I wanted and needed to cut in that moment in Target today, the reality is that self-injury will not have a lasting effect on my anxiety. In a few hours (at most), I would be back to having high numbers.
My therapist would ask me right now, “What do you need?” By this, she means: what the fuck is it going to take to get your numbers down?!?! I used to not know the answer to that question. However, thanks to a shit ton of yoga and mindfulness and practice, I know what I need when my numbers are high like this. I need yoga. I need to be weighed down with sandbags. I need an hour of meditation and breath awareness. I need positive words of encouragement. I need to be fully present in my body. I need to feel safe.