I wrote this letter to the Montel Williams show and it is the only record I have written of my story, so please bear with me.
My name is Dayna, I’m seventeen years old and I live in Felton California. I’m pretty much an everyday girl, with a few exceptions. One major one is that I am a self-injury addict.
The book ‘Secret Scars: Uncovering and Understanding the Addiction of Self-Injury’ by V.J Turner defines Self Injury, or SI, as ‘the deliberate mutilation of one’s own body, with the intent to cause injury or damage, but without intent to kill oneself’. I myself think this is a pretty accurate definition but there are others out there who self-injure who may not agree and I’ll admit, there are a few things I’d like to add to that definition.
I would like to start off by telling you my story of how I became an SI addict not only because I would like assistance in quitting, but because there are so many others out there who are ashamed to come forward and ask for help and some of them have crossed the line between addiction and suicidal intent. I have gone to that line and put my big toe over it, only to jump back into the ‘safer’ world of SI addiction, but before I get to that, I’d like to tell you how I got to the point I am at now.
I was born in San Jose to my mother, Veronica and was a happy, healthy baby. I grew up in the Bay Area with my brother Justin who is two years younger than me and my mother, who was then unemployed. My father had made the choice to not be involved in my childhood, but my mother tells me he had visited several times when I was a baby. I have a letter from him from 1988 that was written to my mother explaining how sorry he was for not being there when he should have been and how much he was thinking about me and my mom. He had even asked to see me, which I’m still not sure if he did. That was nearly eighteen years ago though, and I was raised by my younger brother’s father, Ron. Ron may not be my real father, but he treats me like I am his own flesh and blood and that’s what he is to me. He is my father, no matter what.
You can say my life was going well until my mother started baby-sitting for a woman named Carmen. Carmen had two kids, one who was my brother’s age named Nick and the other who was a few years older than me named Lacy. Lacy and I were pretty good friends, having a few things in common like the crushes on the Backstreet Boys and Brat Pitt. I don’t remember very much from back then, except for one set of memories that have been playing in my head since I was about eight. My mother was watching Nick and Lacy while Carmen was out either looking for a job or playing Bingo and Lacy had come up with the idea of playing in my room. We lived in an apartment back then and I had a room to myself with a door that could be locked from the inside to shut everyone else out while I read, drew or sang along to my favourite songs on the radio, but on this particular day, Lacy wanted to do something other than sing or draw. When we were in my room, she got up and shut the door. I didn’t really think anything of it, even when she started touching me inappropriately. Even then, I knew something was wrong with what she was doing, but I never said a word. I never protested, nor did I tell my mother. For seventeen and a half years I have carried that secret on my back, telling only one other person about it.
Years after the incident with Lacy, after my mom got married to a man named Mike, we moved to the Santa Cruz mountains. I had a hard time adjusting to my new surroundings and when I started school at San Lorenzo Valley Jr. High, I knew things were going to change, but I wasn’t sure whether or not it would be for the good. I liked my eight-grade teacher, Ms. Bing, and I had made friends with several of my classmates, but I still missed living in the city. People up here were racist and, in my eyes, ignorant. I remember getting into a fight with one of my best friends during school one afternoon and being called to the office. The assistant principal had assigned me my first Saturday school and suggested that I take anger management classes. From then on, I only got into trouble for a few minor things and even managed to graduate on time to pass on to High School.
The first few months at SLV High were somewhat of a blur until I set foot on the Freshman lawn for the first time. I found people there who were like me, who shared common interests like the ones Lacy and I had. Music, books, boys etc. One friend, Rose, stood out to me more than some of the others. When I had first met her, I noticed that she had scars on her arms that didn’t look like something a household pet could create. I asked her about it and that was when I became aware of self injury. Months went by and I discovered things about the world I didn’t even know existed like polyamory and the Wiccan religion. Rose and I started dating for a while even after I’d taken on another girlfriend named Nelly. Nelly had been with Rose for almost six months when I met her and after a few months of ditching class to hike into the woods behind the school and to smoke near the bus stop, we became a couple. It wasn’t until Rose dumped me that I had ever tried to use SI to escape the emotional pain. I started out using disposable razors that women use for shaving by breaking the safety with my teeth and just nicking myself a few times until I was satisfied. Another year went by and I started to feel alone, especially after Nelly moved away with her family. We kept in touch, but that didn’t seem like enough to keep us going, so we split up and remained friends. I had started to cut a little more when I was in my Sophomore year and managed to hide it from my mother and my little brother along with most of my friends.
Soon, I was using it as my means of escape whenever I was stressed out, upset or in need of some kind of rush. I graduated from Lady Bics to Exacto knife refill blades and other free-range razor blades in order to achieve a better sensation when cutting. I’d started to become overwhelmed by my depression that I missed more than three months of school, only going periodically so they wouldn’t boot me out. I erased phone calls from my teachers and disguised my own voice to excuse myself from school. This went unnoticed by my mother for several months until one day in my junior year I became so unbelievably stressed out over a friend not showing up to class that I excused myself to use the bathroom and cut myself rather deep. When I returned to my classroom I was holding a wad of paper towels to the cuts and caught my teacher’s attention. She pulled me aside and asked me to show her what I’d done and when I refused, she threatened to call the office and have me removed from the campus as well as call my mother. I got a little afraid about what my mother would think, so I showed her my arm and was given the rest of the week off to relax and get myself together, but she’d called my mother anyway, afraid that I might be suicidal. I was upset when my mother confronted me about my cutting and swore up and down that my teacher was just trying to get me kicked out of school. My mother began to call around, looking for a doctor for me to see and a therapist as well. I was soon prescribed an anti-depressant called Lexapro and had began seeing a woman named Deborah.
I spilled my guts to Deborah at every meeting we had, sometimes going a few minutes over my time limit. I did everything I could to avoid using SI to escape the pain of everyday life, from writing to listening to my favourite Linkin Park CD at top volume, to sleeping the day away so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I slowly began to stop cutting, believing that I was getting better and revelling in the praise I got for good behaviour, good attendance and for not cutting. But that ended on April 14, 2004. At the time, I had taken a liking to someone over the internet who had seemed like he was my perfect match, but when I stopped hearing from him, things got worse. I started cutting again, I was using other methods of SI to numb everything that gave me pain and I was writing down every bit of it in a journal that never left my side. In the very early hours of April 14, I was checking Nelly’s blog and at the time, we weren’t speaking to each other, when I read that she was now living in Santa Clara and had a boyfriend and that her life was going great. I started crying hysterically and reached for my razor, cutting my arms until I could not feel the pain anymore. That’s when decided that numbness wasn’t enough. I had previously taken some non-prescribed migraine pills from my mother’s room and kept them for headaches and such, but that night I used them for my first suicide attempt. I remember swallowing about twenty pills and suddenly sobering up from my pain induced high to realise that I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live. I forced myself to throw up the pills in my system and waited for about an hour before my mom got up to go to work. I was crying when I told her what I had done and planned to make an emergency meeting with Deborah.
Since then, I have not attempted suicide, but have thought about it constantly. Over the summer, I began to drown those thoughts with alcohol, coming home from Santa Cruz smelling like beer or boxed wine so often that my mother began to smell my breath every time I came home, even if I had just been with a friend and was sober. Just recently when I was kicked out of my school, I wanted to kill myself so bad that I had to confide in my best friend Whitney in order to keep myself from actually going through with it. I’ve explained to my mother that I want help, that I want to stop cutting, but the addiction has sunk itself deep into my being, so deep that I rely on it more than my morning cigarette to get me through the day. Now that I don’t go to school, I have been trying to study for my GED, which I cannot take the test for until I turn eighteen and I have been trying to find a job. Along this bumpy roller-coaster I call my life, I have discovered that I am not the only one who suffers from this addiction. A few of my friends tell me that it’s the new ‘fad’, when in reality, it’s an addiction that can control your life, much like a drug addiction. I’ve done research to try and find a way to cure myself without having to spend much money, but it seems impossible for me to actually want to quit.
I have lost friends because of my refusal to quit, some who seemed like lifelines to me that kept me from doing it. Recently, I was abandoned by a friend of mine after breaking an oath not to cut anymore and I haven’t heard from him since. I don’t want to go through life lost and scarred, I want to learn to be me again, before I started cutting. Nearly four years of my life have been wasted because of my depression and SI addiction, mostly because that was all I was focused on for a long time and I want that lost time back.
Please know that I really do want to quit, but I’m just not sure exactly how to go about it. Even attempting to quit without help doesn’t seem to do any good and I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Some SI addicts do recover and live their lives the way they want to and I want to be one of them. I want to overcome this addiction, I want to be a survivor. I do continue to listen to music to try and calm myself instead of using SI and it seems like the band who is in my CD player most of the time is Linkin Park. The first song I ever heard by them was ‘Crawling’ and immediately after hearing it, I fell in love with their music. It’s not only their songs that make me a fan, but the voice and strength of Chester Bennington. If I were to pick someone to be my hero, it would be him. He has gone through so much in the past and has come out strong to prove that addictions can be conquered and dreams can become reality. I’ve heard that he does radio shows on the side to make people aware of child abuse and child molestation and that makes me proud to be a fan, knowing that he’s not only here to entertain, but to do whatever he can to help out and prevent these things from happening to others, like it did to him.
I myself want to make the world a little more aware of the addiction that is slowly becoming popular among adolescents and even adults. I want to defeat this and let everyone else who is struggling know that it isn’t impossible to quit and that asking for help is the first step to recovery.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it’s dreadfully long, but I wanted to make sure that my message is clear, not only to you, but to other SI addicts as well that you must ask for help when you need it, and that’s what I’m asking you. I am asking you to help me spread the word of self-injury awareness to those who don’t yet know of it’s dangers and growing popularity. To me, this is a big question to ask someone, especially since I’m fighting my own battle and I am just one person in the millions of others out there with this addiction. Again, thank you for reading this and if there is any information you or anyone else can give me about programs for quitting, feel free to use the address below or contact me via e-mail.
My name is Dayna, I’m almost 15 and live in Michigan. I’ve been cutting for about 5 months or so. I started out very innocent, a few scratches with a safety pin. After me and my boyfriend of 10 months broke up, I started to explore it more, driven by hopelessness and depression. I moved on to other things, before I found razors. They started small, few, but now have gotten deep and lined. I have a pretty star scar as well. I’ve turned into the girl that I thought I would never ever be. I look back on the past few months and I just can’t believe what has happened to me.
So, many people ask, why? Why do you cut? So one day after a very heartfelt conversation I had with one of my close friends, and first few people that I told about me cutting, I came home and wrote up why I cut. So here it is, I’m sure many of you can relate:
I hurt, I cut, I hurt, I release, I feel Relief.
Let me explain each section a little more:
- I hurt inside. Nothing is worse then having pain on the inside that won’t come out. Or that comes though tears and that you can outlet somewhere. Feeling of hopelessness.
- A way for me to put the pain outside, where I can actually deal with it.
- Now I hurt physically, instead of emotionally. A hurt I can understand a whole lot more and deal with better. A hurt what I can see and feel.
- Cutting is a release of emotions. A way to deal with the emotions I can’t find a way to let out any way else, If I can let some emotions out, it’s not enough, or it doesn’t satisfy this burning need I have. Cutting satisfies me. It’s my way to cope and deal.
Self-Hatred, Self-Harm, Self-Mutilation, Self-Pain.
I dislike myself, which leads to self harm and mutilation and pain. I wear the scars to remind myself of all the bad things I’ve done. I wear the scars to remind myself of how stupid I am I cut. I wear the scars to prove to me that I am ugly and horrible.
And last but definitely not least: Addiction, and control.
- I can easily admit that I am addicted to cutting myself. It’s a way for me to release. I have an odd enjoyment of watching the blood run down my arm. It tastes OK as well. It’s kind of cool and almost beautiful how it pools into a drip and contrasts against your skin.
- Since my life is already spinning way out of control. This is one thing that centres me. One thing that I control. Since I can’t do anything about the rest of my life, it gives me comfort in knowing that I can control this. I choose where, when, why, how hard, how many. When you start getting into dark moods you can’t get out of, anything that puts you on stable ground is comforting.
I have pictures up here if you’d like to see, under Dayna. You can always e-mail me if you have a question, need advice, or just want to say hi.
Here I am, arms bleeding, scars showing, alone in my room. Wondering what happened to me. How can I be this person. Will it ever stop? Do I want it to stop?