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How much pain can you stand?

Photo by Lua Valentia on Unsplash

My pain tolerance is almost non-existent.

I have a very low pain threshold. My dentist, who has been in charge of my dental health since I was a child, knows this well. In all the procedures he has done to me--tooth extraction, root canal therapy, even the routine cleaning and replacing of fillings--I have always winced and flinched (or even cried!) in pain.

When I have a fresh wound, even if it's just a cut, I take a deep breath before I douse it with soap and water. And I never clean my wounds with alcohol. I use either povidone iodine or hydrogen peroxide for that.

And yet, whenever I have the urge to hurt myself, I grab the nearest sharp object that I can find and make cuts on my skin. And for some reason, I can stand the pain. I even welcome it.

My self-harming tendencies surface whenever I'm having a depressive episode, or when something overwhelms me with anger, frustration, or guilt. The last time I did this was a month ago, and my fiance got worried and sad because he doesn't want me to hurt myself (well, who wants their loved ones to hurt themselves, right?). I also promised him that I would never self-harm, and I broke that promise. Twice. Both incidents happened this year.

My cuts are superficial, but my former psychiatrist Dr. B warned me that there is always a risk of infection whenever I do that. He suggested that whenever I get the urge to self-harm, I light a candle and drop the hot wax on my skin. It would hurt as if I stayed under the hot sun for a few hours, but there wouldn't be cuts or wounds that can be infected. I took note of it, but I never followed his advice. The blade would still be my weapon of choice whenever Ms. Self-Harm would whisper in my ear.

Now, the wounds I am treating are those from my surgery last week. I must say that the stitches were nicely done and perhaps, those wounds will not leave noticeable marks. In two days, there will be no need for me to bandage them, and they'll be fine.

Meanwhile, I compare them with the five "lines" on my left arm, which I attacked with my office scissors a year and a half ago. Maybe my scars from surgery would look like those, too. They may end up looking similar, even if the stories those scars will tell are two completely different ones. And one of them is definitely more painful than the other.

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