Today, I’m going to talk about something that isn’t easy but important to talk about. I’m going to talk about self harm. It is a very misunderstood topic, and I can only truly speak as to my own experience. However, I think that it is important to talk about so that others can understand. I think part of the reason why it is so misunderstood is because people don’t talk about it. I can’t blame them, it is kind of a weird concept. Why would someday intentionally hurt themselves? It doesn’t make any sense. I’ve suffered from this, and I know it.
I think that the first thing people need to understand is that people who do this are mentally ill. They aren’t thinking logically or with their right mind. I know I’m not as terrible as a person as my depression makes me think or that the worst outcome that my anxiety put in my head won’t happen, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times I don’t believe it. At the moment you’re going to cut, you think that is your only option. Whenever I have, it was because I couldn’t feel anything or I felt so much that it is overbearing. I’m a writer, but I don’t think that the feeling can be adequately explained. It is a feeling of utter despair; as if you are drowning in a black hole that keeps closing in. The despair emerges straight from your heart and just encompasses you. And in that moment, you’d do anything to feel something or to break the bubble of conflicting emotions. There’s no winning.
I don’t want to cut. I still struggle with it. There’s times I just have to sit there, basically grit my teeth and close my eyes, and wait it out until the urge passes. I use a fidget cube, I have a stress ball, and I use basic breathing exercises but sometimes I have to just try and wait it out. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Recently, I read an article about it where the author compared to addiction and said that she struggles with it still 15 years later. That’s an awful long time. I hope that maybe there is a day where I don’t struggle with it.
I hate having to look at my scars. I don’t know why I do it where I do. I’m not exactly thinking about the best place to hide it when I do it. I can barely think straight, I’m not thinking about the consequences of those actions. And I have to live with them. I see them everyday. I would like to get one in particular covered with a tattoo at some point. I hope that will deter me from cutting as well.
The one thing that is really important to understand about mental illness in general is that it’s not a problem that can just be solved thinking a certain way. When someone says, “you just have to do it,” that isn’t always possible. That’s why there are things like cognitive behavior therapy so we can learn how to do it. Mental illness isn’t a light switch. If it were, I would’ve found a way to glue mine on “off.” Similarly, people may not b able to explain why they cut. It took me a long time to realize that it was a set of extremes – absence of emotion versus an overabundance of it – that led me to. The why makes me uncomfortable. It being assumed that I cut “for attention” is similar to being stabbed. Not in the back, but right where you can see it. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Does it mean they don’t possibly need your help? No, but please understand that the reason isn’t to do it to get attention. Everyone deals with their demons differently; some can do it in healthy ways like working out or playing an instrument. Others turn to drugs, alcohol, or gambling for theirs. And others still end up at self-harm. I only ask that you do not judge. The person doesn’t want to do it. Most likely, they hate at least part of themselves for it. My interpretation of it being “for attention” is that it undermines the person’s struggle. There are different ways to ask; you can ask if they need to talk or if there is anything on their mind. You can offer them a hug. Being there for someone can make all the difference in something like this. Please don’t judge. Please keep an open mind and open heart. You can positively impact someone because of it.
Peace and Love.