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Needle phobia, self-harm

Discussion in 'Medical' started by Buddy, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Buddy

    Buddy New Member

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    I'm severely terrified of needles. I've been avoiding them for 15 years now. The last time I got impaled with one I was in a juvenile mental hospital. I was not able to sleep normally because I knew a nurse would be coming to my room in the middle of the night to take blood from me. I had been sent there one year prior. I kept waking up every 5 minutes, dreading my fate. I couldn't even run away, hide or fight it. I really wanted to, but I knew if I did, they would just restrain me and sedate me. Which would be more traumatic and one more needle I didn't want. When the nurse did arrive I just froze in fear and couldn't speak, only cry.

    I have very recently started to self-harm again. It's been an on again off again thing since I was a teenager. I'm 31 now. I know I need to get help. But I'm also terrified that if a therapist realizes I'm self-harming they will throw me back into one of those hospitals. My needle phobia is serious. To the point that I don't ever go get check ups, flu shots or visit any dentists. I never go to the doctor, even when I don't feel well. It's easy avoiding needles as an adult. I've had this needle phobia since I was a child. It's only gotten worse since my last stay in the psych ward when I was a teen. I still have nightmares about it.

    I know I can't avoid needles forever. Eventually something is bound to happen, like appendicitis or minor accidental injury. My worst nightmare come true would be if I woke up in a hospital bed or ambulance while attached to an I.V. Essentially I can't fathom ever facing needles again.

    I know I have to find some alternative to self-harming. I'm struggling with depression. I don't know how to control my emotions. Sometimes I cry while riding the bus. I get panic attacks out of nowhere. I'm just messed up all over the place.
     
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  3. littleoc

    littleoc Making everywhere I go a better place Premium Member Donated

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    Hello :)

    First of all, you absolutely should tell your therapist all of this. Your therapist will be able to help you address the phobia.

    I used to be so phobic of needles that I couldn't even say of spell the word.

    Posted too soon. Here's the rest:

    I used to be so phobic of needles that I couldn't even say or spell the word. It was a combination of trauma (experience) and natural instinct.

    However, I've managed to get much better, enough that I'm caught up on vaccines and everything else (you need your tetnus shot...)

    It's taken some adjustments for me. I started with EMDR, focusing on a broader trauma that didn't seem directly related to needles. Lucky for me, it turned out to affect my phobia, which was fantastsic because I had become required to have my blood drawn and analyzed every six months. Not fun with a phobia.

    I also challenged my mindset, with help from my therapist. I saw you use the word "impale," and my mom when being unable to give herself insulin shots was using the word "shoot." She didn't like "stick" either, but when she changed it to "poke," she no longer had to ask me for her daily poke of insulin. (Thank goodness... that's part of why I left nursing training...)

    I reminded myself that the nurses are not malicious and are trying to help me. I pictured animals that I've saved who were utterly terrified of what I had to do to them, but weren't in mortal danger and weren't going to be injured any further.

    Remind yourself constantly that you're going to be okay, that this isn't as deadly as your brain says. (It's difficult...)

    I also had help from having to act like I wasn't afraid. I have a service dog who also hates needles, but has to get vaccines and blood drawn at least yearly. When she sees needles, she gets nervous, even if it's not for me. To teach her that it was okay, I had to act like it was okay. Do that for yourself (after loads of practice), and it'll help.

    I also "protect" myself. My trauma deals with eyes and sharp things... so I make sure my eyes are covered. I use regular glasses and cover with my hand if i have to. It hasn't bothered a nurse yet. :p

    I hope this helps you at least a little. This USB really one of the worst phobias...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2018
    Missycat, Still Standing and Esterio like this.
  4. Friday

    Friday Raise Hell Moderator

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    Do you also have PTSD in addition to depression, phobia(s), & panic attacks?
     
    littleoc likes this.
  5. Buddy

    Buddy New Member

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    First, I probably should've mentioned that I'm not actually in therapy. Mainly because of my needle phobia. Also I can't will myself into letting someone put a needle into me. Not anymore. I always say I'd rather die than let anyone invade my skin with a needle ever again. Which is for the most part true. I obviously don't want to actually die, but I also can't willingly accept being injected with a needle ever again.

    So much so, that 6 years ago, I attempted suicide, by overdosing on pills. (NOTE: I am no longer suicidal) I called the suicide hotline after I took the pills. The lady on the other end wanted to know my address but I wouldn't give it to her. I told her I had thrown up a little before calling her. Which was true, but she insisted I should still get help. I knew that would mean a trip to the ER in an ambulance and another stay at a psych ward. I just couldn't do that ever again. I did not know wether or not I would be ok. I took the risk anyway and hung up on her. That's how serious my needle phobia is, that I'm willing risk my life just so I won't have to face needles. It is a miracle I survived that. Before I threw up some of the pills, I was laying down in bed feeling extremely sleepy and very cold. When suddenly I felt the urge to vomit. After I did that I didn't feel sleepy or cold anymore. After I hung up on the suicide hotline lady I was freaking out. I was paranoid that the cops would bust open the front door any minute and the paramedics would then sedate me and strap me down to a gurney. Of course that didn't actually happen. But since I hadn't thrown up ALL of the pills, I started to hallucinate. I kept looking out the peephole through the front door, checking to see if they'd come for me. Later I heard knocking, I checked the peephole and saw cops, paramedics and firefighters all outside my door. (At the time I thought they were really there. I hadn't yet realized they were hallucinations) So I hid in my room, thinking that any minute, they would break down the door. And my nightmare would begin again. I am glad I survived and that I wasn't taken away again.

    I've tried desensitizing myself by looking at pictures and videos of needles. But I still can't watch someone else get injected in front of me. Let alone actually have someone do that to me.
     
  6. Buddy

    Buddy New Member

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    I'm pretty sure I do have PTSD when it comes to needles. Everytime I think about them my mind goes back to my stay in the hospital.
     
  7. Friday

    Friday Raise Hell Moderator

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    PTSD isn’t a symptom, but a completely seperate disorder with a constellation of symptoms of its own... so you wouldn’t have PTSD when it comes to needles, although it sounds very much like you have a phobia of needles / a specific Phobic Disorder.

    PTSD also isn’t the “next step”, like if your phobia is bad enough then it becomes PTSD. In point of fact, phobias can be a great deal more severe than PTSD. Again, 2 totally different disorders, each with their own mild to severe spectrum. All of the symptoms you mention are very easily explained by the phobia itself, and attempts to manage it, including the panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, ruminations, self harm, suicidal ideation... ditto the increase in your phobic symptoms in response to life events surrounding them. Like when you were hospitalized. Or they could be part of a comorbid disorder. Or both.

    I’m not saying you don’t have PTSD, but if you did, it won’t have been caused by your fear of needles.

    It would have to have been caused by >>> exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. <<< not a fear of death (like with a phobia), nor a willingness to die to either avoid the fear or in a depression, but things like: abuse, assault, rape, kidnapping, car accidents, combat, torture, terrorism, domestic violence, natural disasters, etc.

    If you have any of those things in your history, it would make PTSD possible, but hardly guaranteed. CritA traumas only cause PTSD in maybe 1/5th of the population who experiences them (conservatively). 10 people can experience the exact same life threatening trauma and have 10 completely different reactions. PTSD is just one of many possibilities (so are phobias, a type of anxiety disorder, other anxiety disorders, mood disorders, etc.) when CritA trauma is present, but it has to be present in order for PTSD to develop.

    Do you have anything like that in your history?



     
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  8. Buddy

    Buddy New Member

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    I see. Well I guess I don't have PTSD. As I have not experienced those things you mentioned. Except for serious injury. Which probably doesn't count as it was self-inflicted.

    My first suicide attempt was a serious injury. I lost a lot of blood from shooting myself in the wrist with a gun. That attempt landed me in the hospital for the first time. Then one year later I was back at the same exact hospital for threatening to kill myself and I was self-harming a lot.
     
  9. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

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    I have a similar needle phobia. (I'd have said "stab" instead of "impale" but I get how you feel.)

    You can safely see a therapist about all this. As an adult, they REALLY aren't likely to lock you up, against your will, for anything. Start right off stating how you feel about it and see what kind of reaction you get. Keep trying to you find someone who gives you a response you can live with. The cool thing about being an adult is you can pretty much say FU and walk out the door when ever you want. Very few exceptions to that. Doesn't matter what the cause is, it seems like it would be worth exploring this.
     
  10. littleoc

    littleoc Making everywhere I go a better place Premium Member Donated

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    You absolutely need a therapist... I'm not sure anyone here's can give you what you really need here -- although we can try to help and give advice, but it'll take a lot of work on your end and probably a bit of therapy. I agree with @scout86 that a therapist is unlikely to get you hospitalized, especially if you're doing as well as you say without suicidal actions :)

    Phobias are very serious and in your case, certainly can improve with treatment.

    I wish you all the luck in the world with this
     
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  11. Buddy

    Buddy New Member

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    Thank you everyone. I am going to start looking for a therapist. I now have to find some courage to tell the therapist about my self-harm and needle phobia.
     
  12. littleoc

    littleoc Making everywhere I go a better place Premium Member Donated

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    Good luck! It will pay off.
     
    scout86 likes this.
  13. Buddy

    Buddy New Member

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    I have found a therapist finally. I start soon. But their policy is that they have to report self-harm. I will be unable to talk about my self-harm to the therapist. What do I do now though?
     
    littleoc and Missycat like this.
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