On Self Harm

Trigger warning:

My journey with self harm is a complicated one. The first time I cut, I was about 13. My mom and I had a fight over a now long-forgotten issue. I stormed off to my bedroom, pacing, feeling the closest I had ever (at that point) felt to the emotions I saw in people who got angry and punched or broke things. I had no idea how to express that. I had never heard of cutting or self injury. But something possessed me (metaphorically speaking), to grab a pair of scissors off my desk and start using them like a I ice on my outer forearm. And a calm I had never experienced came over me. I was hooked.

My cutting had reached multiple instances a day before I was found out by my parents and 14 or early 15. By then I was unstoppable ( I laugh in the face of sharp-proofing), but I was also terrified, both of my mental state and by how deeply engrained this urge to harm myself was, how fervently I believed I deserved it.

I could spend 20 blog posts detailing the year I was 15. The summation in this area would be that I spent two brief stays in a psych ward (both voluntary admissions), attended 2 cutting support groups, and played therapist for my parents who were going through a nasty divorce. My arms were covered in scars, now, interspersed with wounds in various stages of healing.

The month after I turned 16, I decided I was quitting. I had attempted it before, but rarely lasted more than a few days. This was going to be different. I finally wanted out for me. Not just to appease everyone in my life who said it was bad.

In my support groups I had learned about many different methods of quitting, much like you would in any other addiction group. I didn’t like the idea of just chatting how long I’d been “clean”, like 90 days sober trinkets. I knew that for me that approach would mean a single slip up would feel like all progress was lost. So I tried my own approach.

I decided. I decided that as of that day I would be a recovering cutter, not a cutter. I acknowledged that the road to recovery was covered in potholes and that I might sometimes fall off the wagon and slip up. But that slip up would not cancel out every intervening day where I fought the urges and won.

It’s been over a decade since I made that choice. My slip ups average from 2 to 3 times a year. But I gave myself no excuse for not getting up and continuing to fight, regardless of the guilt I felt for messing up.

I still fight those urges. Every day. They are a constant companion. Nights like tonight are the hardest. When my depression made me sleep randomly and lose time with my kiddo, and I’m alone for the night. I haven’t eaten in over a day, not because of an eating disorder, but because I literally can’t get out of bed to make myself something.

I would already be dead if it wasn’t for the friends and family who have taken care of me, or the kiddo who I can’t ever abandon no matter how painful this life gets.

On nights like tonight, I question my resiliency against suicide (a topic for another post). I wonder how I can bear another minute, hour, or day in this kind of excruciating psychological pain. And despite my amazing support network… I feel like no one even theoretically can understand and relate to this kind of pain. The only person I ever knew who understood this kind of mental anguish was my father. With him gone… It’s just me. Even with my friends and loved ones trying to help; I’m alone in a way they can’t possibly understand.

All I can think of to end this entry is a morbid/uplifting quote:

“It’s just life. We all get through it.”

An Anonymous Outsider

4 thoughts on “On Self Harm

  1. Sounds like we may have something in common in this front (is that the right word? I don’t think it is but I can’t think of anything else…). Usually when I’m having the really bad thoughts, it’s after a big fight. I find myself consumed with rage and hate and hurt and sadness, and the bad thoughts feel like the only way away from these awful emotions and the horrible situation I’m in. I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff in that state of mind…some really, really stupid stuff…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Milestones: Looking for something radically honest to read? Voila! | ananonymousoutsider

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