My name is Rachel and I have been cutting since I was eleven. Maybe younger. I started cutting myself because of the heavy emotional pain I was going through. I was sexually abused (molested and raped) off and on from the time I was two until I was about fifteen. Talk about having a messed up mind. I felt so dirty and ugly. And as I got older I was filled with anger and guilt. I hated myself! I hated myself with a passion! Oh, how I wanted to die. I wanted to try to get away from the pain. I wanted to feel like I was worth something again. Also I was a freak. A freak who didn’t have any friends.
I guess it was the feeling of worthlessness that made me start cutting myself. Whenever I would start getting that insecure feeling or when I would get embarrassed in front of a lot of people, as soon as I could find an escape I would claw my arms until I was bleeding. I loved the feeling of my fingernails ripping my skin away. I liked seeing my blood seep out of those open wounds. It made me feel in control. It made me feel in control of a life that was out of control.
Pretty soon I wasn’t just scratching myself with my fingernails. I started using a knife and then a razor blade. It cut deeper and it made me bleed more. I felt so alone and felt like if any one ever found out about my scars they would think I was crazy. Then my Uncle came to live with my family when I was fourteen and he started doing things with my sister and I.
Things started getting better. He took us fishing and hunting and I thought he was the nicest man I had ever known. My own dad who lived right there in my house didn’t really want to do anything like that with me. He wanted a boy instead of a girl. Well he didn’t get what he wanted so he decided not to have very much to do with me. So when my uncle came to live with us and started doing things with my sister and I, I felt like maybe things were going to be OK. I started talking to him about my “self mutilation” and he made me feel so good about myself. He made me feel like I was worth something. Well then just when I decided to trust in him he started touching me. My world came crashing down. I would go to my room and cut my arms until I saw and felt the blood trickling down my arm. It seemed like no matter how much pain I inflicted in myself I couldn’t forget the hurt that I felt inside.
Soon after that I tried to commit suicide. I slit my wrist two times. I ended up not cutting the right way so it didn’t hurt me very badly. My mother finally noticed my cuts and she decided to get me to a counsellor. I went to her for a little while but it didn’t work out. I just didn’t want to get better. So I went on cutting myself. Everything got worse. Finally a year ago I landed myself in the emergency room. I had cut myself really bad on my hips and I had to get sewn up. It was then that I realised that I needed help. So I talked to a counsellor that was at the hospital and she called different behaviour centres around and she finally found one that had a room for me. The next morning I was transported by ambulance to Brentwood in Jackson. I stayed there five days. Then I went back home.
My mother got me to another counsellor and he really sucked. I still hadn’t figured out that someone couldn’t fix my problems for me. I had to be the one to make an effort.
Well I quit going to him and I started keeping a journal. That helped me out a lot. And well I have to say that it wasn’t an earthly counsellor who helped me it was God. The only counsellor who can make things right! And after a year I am finally cut free. And most of my pain from my past is gone too. I’m still working on some things, but in the end it’ll all work out. I’m just so glad to know that I’m free!
My name is Rachel and I self-harm. I see a therapist about this but still cut. I have depression and borderline personal disorder. And meds help a lot too. But my cutting has gotten a lot worse over the years and it is a very lonely problem. I really want to stop, but I still keep doing it. When I had first started cutting it was not a big problem for me then and I didn’t care what anyone said about it. But now I have scars on my breasts that are so large and and on my arms too. I know some teens think it “in” to carve on themselves, but don’t! You can get hooked on cutting and it’s a lifetime of watching yourself when you feel down or sad, when your “triggers” come up. Do you want to know what my cutting lifestyle got me into? Really? Right, at twenty-three years old, I like in a half-way house for the mentally ill. I can’t get a job because I spent most of my teenage years in a psychiatric hospital. I have been over-drugged, tied down to a bed and fed through a tube in my nose, been on locked down in a psychiatric hospital on Christmas day. Trust me, cutting is not worth it and I’m working my hardest to stop this for good. That’s my story.
Picking & Pulling
Copyright, Rachel Studley
I want to tell you about my self harm. I want to make you understand and I want to make me understand too. I want to get to a point where I can be wound free — where my body only shows the scars of where I’ve been and not where I am right now. I can’t remember the last time I was completely wound-free. I was once, maybe when I was about 13. It’s hard to say.
At this point in time my harming is in the form of picking at my skin. I’ve managed to beat the cutting for now, although when things get bad the urge is (almost) unbearable. I also pull out my hairs. These two less known forms of self harm are more difficult for me than the more dramatic ones. I feel much more ashamed of my scars from this — the blotchy red patches on my legs — than I do of any others. Perhaps I accept my other scars because I have more of an understanding of why I’ve got them. Plus, as far as self injury goes, cutting and burning are more accepted in the world (and to me). Most people have at least heard of it, or read some well meaning article in a magazine. Picking and pulling are still taboo, which is weird ‘cause most of us have done it to some extent. Most people just don’t take it to the degree that I do. I still feel very alone with it though — and a bit of a ‘freak’.
The hair pulling started with me trying to get something bad out of myself. I’d feel the hairs on my head and, when one felt ‘wrong’ (had a different texture to the rest) I’d pull it out. I didn’t agonise for hours, or even seconds, over whether to or not — I just did it. It was somewhere below conscious thought. I just knew I had to get it out of me. Afterwards I’d examine the hair and, if there was something on the end of it, I felt satisfaction that I’d got it. I knew that I was one bit closer to getting the ‘alien’ out of me. Now I know that the pale, almost transparent things on these hairs were just part of its anatomy — but back then I just knew it was wrong. I sometimes thought of asking someone, telling them what it was that was inside me and asking if they had one too. As much as I wanted to know I was going to be alright, I felt sure that it was something I had to keep to myself. Maybe things would have worked out differently if I had told my secret — I’ll never know.
Now I’m (almost) positive that the ‘alien’ was part of my psychosis and not something that existed outside of my reality. It should follow that my hairs are now safely attached to my head and all is well with the world. Things as they are (possibly due to me not living in a fairytale dimension) this isn’t the case. I don’t pull out my hairs from my head — just the rest of my body (mainly my legs, actually). There’s still something about getting it out of me, although I’m not sure what ‘it’ is. Something bad, maybe. Something tainted? The process operates below my conscious thought so I can’t say for sure. It just happens. I’ve an inkling that It’s a residue of the effect of my sexual abuse and rape. Woah — I wasn’t sure that I’d dare type those words. I’m not sure how, but I think it’s related to my feeling that it’s my fault (basically that I am bad, evil etc). Perhaps, though, the two things are unrelated — if I can’t hear my own thoughts when it’s happening it’s really difficult to reason why.
The picking? I don’t even know how that one started, just that it began in earnest early last year. I’ve always hidden it and felt loaded with shame whenever the wounds catch my eye. When it was at its worse I couldn’t bare to look at my legs at all — I had to stop having baths for that reason. I’d just feel repulsed by my own skin, which is weird because if I saw it on someone else I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Again, picking wasn’t something I thought about — I’d just find myself doing it. I’d draw blood and, sometimes, feel the need to keep at it till I was disturbed or my mind caught up with itself and realised what was happening. I know I’m not explaining it very well — but I’m trying and that’s important right now.
Like I said earlier — I’m almost wound free right now. It has been a bit of a struggle, like fighting an unseen enemy that tends to strike before you’ve realised they’re near. I’ve tried putting a barrier between me and my skin to give myself a chance to realise what I’m doing before I’ve done the damage. This is in the form of dressings for my wounds, which I’m trying to take care of, and wearing long trousers. The latter is less successful (as my ankles are testament to) but it’s a start. I find the most difficult times are when I’m idly watching TV or just spending time thinking so I try to keep my hands busy with other things. The computer’s a godsend as are books, magazines, bottles of pop and such things. Spending time with other people also helps as I won’t harm in front of anyone (it’s just one of my rules). Of course I don’t want to attach myself to people 24/7, I’m way to independent for that, but I’m learning to be with others when it gets really bad. That’s tough for me too, asking for help, but at least it doesn’t leave bright red scars. Even talking on the phone, using the internet or going out for a walk can help.
I’ve not beat it yet, and it’s proving to be a very long struggle, I’m (almost) confident that I will. For the moment, though, I just want to get to the point that the only marks on my body aren’t current. Once I’ve managed that I’ll work on the rest.
I want to learn to love my scars too — but I guess that’s the next step.
Today I Feel Raw
Copyright, Rachel Studley
Today I feel raw
everything touches me
burrows deep inside, penetrates my core
then, expanding, it consumes me
their pain cuts mine into shreds
their anger leaves me burnt and reeling
like an infant on a piano, banging away
unaware of the doors
I don’t want to feel this
I don’t want to feel anything
I want to run, hide from it all
lock myself away inside a padded cell
draw isolation around myself
like a comforting lover
sink deep inside its embrace
still though, I stay
though it all bears down on me
steals my breath
and fills my mind with panic
a tiny part remembers how it used to be
I want my skin back
I’m nineteen now, almost twenty. I started cutting myself when I was thirteen and for a while I stopped completely. A few nights ago my life took some sudden turns in the wrong direction, and the only way I could deal with it was to bleed. But right now, even after all the research I’ve done over the years and all the effort I’ve expended hiding this secret, I don’t feel like there is anything wrong with it. For once in my life I don’t want to get better.
I want to clear up some of the things people are saying about my cutting. Even if these things aren’t written directly to those people, it helps me to get some things off my chest. First of all, I’d like to say that I don’t cut to try to kill myself. I do it as a type of release. I have been cutting for a couple of years now and it all started with school. I went to a school where every single day I would come home from school crying. It was horrible. I had a racist teacher and was over weight. Now being part African-American and overweight, I was a very easy target. I still cut to basically punish myself for all of my flaws. I am only twelve years old (almost thirteen) and everyone says that I am to young to be in all of this shit. But they have no idea. If anyone wants to e-mail me, please do so as soon as you can. I’d really appreciate it.
20 Red Crayons
She laid on her stomach letting the linoleum chill her skin through her thin white nightgown, her fingers were as cold and thin as the vibrant crayons scattered before her. Her skin was as white as paper.
Her crayons were a limited crimson rainbow. Red. She liked red. She picked up her crayon.
She drew squares, triangles, and octagons. She never drew circles, they confused her.
The red crayon scribbled over the barren field of white. She drew hearts, flowers, and bloody smiles. She hummed softly to herself as she lay down the bright crayon, and carefully chose another.
The new crayon was red as well, but an orangey-red. She drew the moon. It was a harvest moon, the sky grinned like an orange-red pumpkin as red raindrops fell from the sky, sliding off the paper to splash on the cold white floor.
She hummed some more, it was her birthday. Her song was hollow, echoing from the red splashed, crayon coloured walls of her room. As the door was thrown open, she blew out the candles on her scarlet birthday cake…
It’s hard to say when my self harm began. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this incredible rage inside me. Whenever something annoyed me, or upset me, I felt like I was going to explode. For a while I thought I was insane, quite literally. My parents just thought I was a ‘difficult child’. I tried to explain the rage I felt, and they would brush it off as a ‘phase’. So I guess I just thought it was part of who I was.
Then, one day, something irritated me to the point of despair, and I remember slamming my hand against the wall in anger. And, just for a second, everything else faded. All I could concentrate on was the pain.
Afterwards, I felt strangely calm.
However, I guess I didn’t really make a connection, as events like that didn’t occur again for several years, until I was in high school, when I was bullied badly. At break times I used to go the the toilets and cry. I became so frustrated with my weakness, I’d slap myself on my face, almost as if to punish myself for, as I thought, being pathetic.
However, the bullying ended as I left school. So I stopped the slapping.
For a while, I was truly happy, until, out of nowhere, I was hit with depression. I started to have panic attacks which left me dissociated from reality, and myself. I felt as if I was two separate people. I was away from college for a long time, and my friends drifted away from me. My parents, I’m sure, grew tired of me, and very much had a ‘pull yourself together’ attitude. I felt so numb. Until, that is, I one day drew blood from a thorn in the garden. I felt strangely ‘real’ again. And from that moment on, whenever I felt ‘strange’, and separated from reality, I would find a way to draw blood. Almost as if to make sure I was real, alive. They were only little scratches, done usually by running the point of nail scissors over my skin.
And, as with the bullying, the depression eventually subsided. However, I was left with much greater pain. Knowing I couldn’t rely on who I had thought to be ‘friends’, and, perhaps what hurt me most of all, my parents. I felt worthless. ‘True friendship’ was an alien concept to me, and my parents were there only when I had gotten a good grade in college, or had some achievement to ‘make them proud’. To add to this, I had entered into a relationship with a guy who was also depressed. Perhaps I’m just weak, but I couldn’t handle it. He told me that if I ever left him, he’d kill himself, and I knew he would. My life was a void of emptiness. I had nobody to turn to, talk to, confide in. That’s when the cutting started. I don’t enjoy it and it hurts like hell. I don’t do it for attention and I don’t like the sight of blood. So why do I do it? I suppose I just want some kind of real manifestation of the pain I’m suffering inside. Yet, I’ll never show the scars to anyone. I guess that cutting is the only thing that has ever been there for me.