What the fuck do you know about cutting? It’s not a disease, it’s not a crime, it’s a release, that’s it, a way out, a temporary resolution to problems bigger than I can deal with right now. Is that bad? Then so is yoga, and so is alcohol, and cigarettes, and any other form of a stress reliever. But when someone smokes, do they get put in psychiatric help? No, although what they’re doing to themselves is a thousand times fucking worse than cutting. And contrary to your belief, I have the ability to control how much I cut, where I cut and to what degree. If I want gushing blood, I can do it, and if I want just a scratch I can do that too. I personally have gotten to the point that I don’t need a river of blood to appease me. All I need is the feeling of a cold dull scissor across my arm. Leaving a scratch, with no blood and I’m fine. Problem fucking solved! Get over your fucking selves and lets help the world shit and let us do what we want to do. If we hurt ourselves so be it, but who’s to say a little pain isn’t good for the soul?
I’ve always been a perfectionist. It has been part of my personality all my life. When I was eleven or twelve, I learnt that my Social Studies teacher was going to look over and grade our books. Terrified that my book was too messy, I told mum I needed a new one because I’d filled up the old one. Then I copied every page into my new book. I filled in the gaps I had from when I was sick, and made my pictures more colourful. Even then I wasn’t satisfied. I was sure it wasn’t good enough and I was sure someone would notice the brand new book. Nobody did and I got a great mark, but that experience was probably at the start of my struggle with depression.
That spring we went on holiday. I have a large family (there are 4 kids) and we were friends with another large family (they had 6 kids, and a few grandkids too) who lived in our old town. We stayed with them for about a week. That week I only allowed myself to eat a piece of fruit and a small dinner. I continued this when we got home, but my family caught on. My eldest sister, who had gone through a similar experience forced me to eat. Gradually I went back to eating normally.
My mental health however continued to decline. By the time I was 14 I had attempted suicide once and basically dropped out of school. I had always been the top of my class and now I couldn’t even go to school. This made me feel extremely worthless. I had panic attacks and couldn’t even handle being around close friends. I felt like no one in my family understood how miserable I was, how alone I felt and how tired I was. I spent most of my time in bed asleep. I was sure I was going crazy.
One day, I had had enough. I had to do something about this feeling in my gut. I knew I couldn’t stop eating again, my mum kept an eagle eye over that, and I did not want to kill myself. A parent of one of my friends had done that the year before and I knew what damage it caused.
I remembered a movie I had seen, where a girl in a rehab centre had cut herself with shards of glass and claimed that it made her feel better. I became obsessed with the idea. I couldn’t wait until I was alone. I found a razor and frantically tore it to pieces, then I began to cut my arm. I made small parallel lines between my wrist and my elbow. From the first cut I began to calm down. The blood fascinated me, and I made more and more lines just to see the first bubble that the blood made.
Then my sister came out of the shower and found me in the kitchen. I couldn’t understand why she was so concerned. I felt perfectly calm. In fact I was numb. She called my parents and they both came home from work straight away. In the meantime my sister wrapped my arm in a towel and sat me down. By now I was shaking and I started to cry. I was crying because I didn’t realise that everyone would be so upset. At the time I had wanted them to know that I didn’t feel good, but it broke my heart to see them so shaken up. Even my eldest sister’s new boyfriend was really concerned. I cried and cried. Mum and dad took me to the doctor’s and I got my arm bandaged up. We were then referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) which was about half an hour away. I cried half the way there, then all of a sudden I stopped. I remember saying, I’m OK now, let’s just go home, I want to go home, over and over again.
After that the dose of anti-depressants I was on for anxiety was increased, and things seemed to be going well. Or better at least. We worked out ‘safe’ places for me to be and I started talking to mum and dad a bit more. However whenever things got too stressful I would either plan to or actually cut myself again. This time I would do it where no one could see. I learnt to open up more to my parents though and every time I cut or wanted to, I would tell them. Then we would talk about why I wanted to and then I would do something like go for a walk.
It was really hard for me as I have never been good at talking to others. Sometimes I couldn’t explain why I felt bad, but we left it at that. Sometimes I slept in my parents bedroom, or in the lounge because I felt safer there.
My medication was increased again when my depressed moods wouldn’t lift. However this caused problems. It sent me into a cycle of over-elevated moods and depressed moods. These ‘high’ moods could last any length between half an hour and two days. When they went I wanted to cut very badly, although most of the time I didn’t get as far as getting the stuff together to do it. But I thought about it a lot. So my medication was changed and the high moods have gone, my overall mood is averaging out and I feel a lot better.
A few months ago I was under considerable stress. My eldest and closest sister had moved to Australia and we were there for her wedding. I also had my period. I panicked and thought about cutting. Surprised I realised that this was the first time I had thought about doing that in a few months. And even better I dismissed the idea straight away. I knew that it wouldn’t make me feel better and it would ruin both my holiday, and my family’s holiday.
It has taken a long time, but gradually I have stopped obsessing about cutting. I’ve learnt other ways to deal with my stress, like getting active, and communicating with my family properly. Also I’ve learnt to take time for myself sometimes (not too much) and I don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes, when I’m very stressed the thought of self injuring comes into my head, but I’m proud to say that it’s never got further then that for a whole year. I start a hospitality course in one week, something that I would never have been able to do a year ago and I am feeling stronger than I have in literally years. I’ve been to the hard rocky bottom, and although the going is not easy, I’m making my way out.