Monday, 18 July 2011

Self Harm

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One of my readers has asked me about cutting. He wishes to know why I decided to cut, what was going through my mind, what did it feel like.

Some readers might find this blog upsetting to read so please, proceed with caution.



When I first cut myself, I was 13. I had been through some difficult times which I don't feel ready to share at the moment.

I remember feeling so many emotions all at the same time. Hate, hurt, anger, frustration, irritation. I was tired and I felt so alone. I needed to get away from everyone and everything. I took a walk. It was dark and quite cold. I walked to a nearby park and sat on the swings. I sat there for about an hour, trying to figure out why I felt the way I did, how to deal with the emotions, how to get rid of them. I started to cry. I slid from the swing onto the floor and started to beat my fists on the floor. It hurt but I didn't care. I began to get more angry. I could feel the rage rising up inside me, radiating from my toes up to my head. I felt I could have burst into flames.



Whilst beating my fists I cut my hand. It felt good. I felt like a little of the pent up frustration was seeping out. 

I found a shard of glass and I used it to cut one of my finger tips. It felt so good. Like something was being released. I cut another finger, watched the blood flow. It was so strange. More frustration was seeping out of the cut. Within 10 minutes I had cut all of my finger tips, the pain was so intense. It hurt a lot but it felt so good! Although this act was immediately conscious, within a few minutes I didn't realise what I was doing until suddenly my hands were covered with blood.



After that I went home. I washed my hands and carried on with the rest of my evening.

The next time I cut I was walking home from after school club. I had been beaten and I could feel the rage radiating again. I found some glass outside the pub and I cut myself again. The same feeling of release washed over me. I continued my journey home and went about my usual activities.

After that it became almost automatic. Every time I cut myself I didn't even realise. It was only afterwards when I put my hands into hot water that I realised because I could feel the sting.



My cutting was not a suicide attempt. Nor was it a cry for help. It was a way to release emotions that I had no idea how to deal with.

I stopped when I was 15 because my little sister walked in on me when I'd cut myself at home. She freaked out and started screaming at me. She kept saying over and over that she couldn't believe I could be so stupid. Seeing the look in her eyes, seeing that fear, I stopped immediately.

It started again when I was around 19. I would just scratch myself over and over in the same place. I didn't realise I was doing and it was only when I'd released whatever it was pent up inside me that I realised what I'd done. Soon that wasn't enough but every time that I thought about cutting myself I could see my little sister's face so I found an alternative solution. Tattoos. My first tattoo was a small one in an area that couldn't be seen. The pain from the tattoo felt so good. It was like a burning sensation. It was almost like the same pain as cutting and scratching only it wasn't me doing it. That seemed to make it somehow better. To date, I have 10 tattoos.





I started cutting again last year. I was again on auto-pilot when this happened and it was only afterwards that I would realise.

The past few years I had been under a lot of stress. My relationship was very turbulent and I'd had what I could only describe as a mental break down around New Year 2010. It started before Christmas 2009. Things were happening at home, things were going very badly. My relationship was also very strained. My boyfriend was unable to comprehend what I was going through and I felt extremely alone. 

After waking up in hospital on New Year's day 2010 I knew something had broken in my relationship. My partner was sat on a chair at the end of my bed and he looked angry at me. 



In February 2010 my partner and I split. It seemed to be the best idea. We were separated for a few months before deciding, in fact, it was not the best idea and that we wanted to be together but things needed to change. My partner started to learn about bipolar disorder and it's effects on a person and I decided I wanted to go to college.

In September 2010 I started college. I enjoyed it but I was still under a lot of stress. I could feel the pressure once again building up inside me. It was only afterwards that I realised I'd cut myself again. This time not on my fingertips but on my forearms. The cuts were ugly and very visible so I wore long sleeves until they faded.

After that, I moved onto my thigh. I would use my craft knives and I would cut deep. I didn't feel the pain. Only the release.

Again, these cuts were completely unconscious. I didn't realise I was doing it. Often I would sit with a knife blade pushed into my skin, not cutting but causing enough pain to feel some release and when that wasn't enough I would draw the blade across my skin and cut. When I'm done, when I'm watching the blood drip from the cut I can only describe myself in the way Pink Floyd does. I become comfortably numb.



So there you have it. Cutting was a way for me to release emotions from my body that I had no idea how to deal with. What started as a conscious act soon became unconscious and automatic. Something over which I have no control.

I would never condone cutting. It can be extremely dangerous. Some suggested alternatives are:

Holding ice on your wrist
Pinging an elastic band on your wrist
Punch a punchbag or your pillow
Write down your feelings
Touch something hot for a second
Go for a walk
Call a friend
Email me

If you do feel the need to cut however, cut safe! Don't cut deep. Don't cut in dangerous places and keep the wound clean.

Keep smiling :):

2 comments:

  1. I know someone who was once like you. She cut herself just to release her emotions… She said it felt good until she realized that all she needed was someone to talk to. Good thing her parents became aware of what she was doing and helped her get through it. Some people just have different ways to release their emotions. Have you tried doing those suggestions you mentioned above? I think those are better off than cutting yourself.

    Anthony Tompson

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  2. Dear Anthony

    Of course I have tried my own suggestions. I have been self harming to some degree since I was a small child. As I explained in my blog, my cutting has become an unconscious act. A lot of the time I am unaware of it.

    As you can see from my blog I am trying various methods, I have even accepted medication after years of research and knowing how dangerous they can be.

    I am glad the person you knew managed to stop cutting.

    TBK

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Thanks for your comment!!