Copyright Phylicia

I am thirty-one years old and I live in New York City. I cut myself on and off from the age of fourteen to about twenty-one. I am sharing my story in the hopes that maybe it will help you in some way. The first time I remember being depressed was when I was fourteen years old and a freshman in high school. In middle school I hung around with the ‘popular’ crowd but when I started high school I slowly became friends with a different crowd (mostly older). From that point on all my friends were anywhere from one to four years older than me. I had developed a real love for music and art. I was really into music mostly hardcore/alternative and dressed the part as well. I grew up in an extremely snobby town. Because my appearance had changed the people that used to be my friends began not to like me for the simple reason that I looked different. It really pissed me off that they were so superficial and looking back they were never real friends but at the time I didn’t see this for what it was. I had always felt different but being persecuted for simply having different interests really made me feel shitty. Looking back I know now that they were the ones who were insecure but when I was younger I didn’t quite get that. Anyway I know this added to the depression I already felt and it intensified the feelings I already had that I was different than others. I think that this also enhanced my mistrust for people and therefore didn’t open up to my friends or parents as much as I should have about how I was feeling inside. I started cutting my arms on a regular basis that year. It was a very private thing that I did alone. No one knew and I didn t want them to find out because when I did it I immediately felt better. At first I used steak knives and mostly made scratches not unlike the type you would get from a cat. Soon I progressed to using razor blades and that is when it got much more serious. Nobody figured it out for almost year. I would always wear long sleeves even in the summer and I would clean and dress my wounds so no blood would come through my shirtsleeves. As I mentioned earlier I start doing it more frequently (a few times a week) so it got to the point that I couldn’t change in front of my closest friends and wore long shirts all year round. I had to be careful coming out of the shower, reaching for things in cabinets for fear that my sleeve would slip and my parent would see. Eventually my best friend found out. She was mortified. I promised to stop and made her promise not to tell my parents. I feel bad today for the predicament I put her in. The hardest thing for me to try and explain to her was that I wasn t suicidal. It was not about killing myself. For me it was about being control my pain. I wanted to be the one to inflict it and then make it better. I didn’t want anyone else to be able to hurt me. It made me feel in control. I couldn’t figure out why I was becoming so fucked up. I have a loving family (mother, father, brother) and was not abused emotionally or physically but yet I felt so bad and sad. This made me feel even worse. I continued to cut myself because the only thing that made me feel better was bleeding. Looking back I wish I had asked for help and worked through my problems. I believe my life would have been drastically different and I might not have the twenty-three scars on my arms today from deep cutting. Unfortunately I didn’t do this and instead began experimenting with drugs. I started smoking pot, and dropping acid but didn’t like it. I soon found coke and heroin and that was the beginning of the end. I was in trouble with my parents all the time, I cut school, I had no respect for myself, my friends, or most importantly my family who loved me so very much. My parents along with having to come to terms with the fact that their daughter was a drug addict also discovered the cutting I had hidden so well. The more I hurt the ones around me the worse I felt and the more I self-destructed. I told them it was not their fault I was like this but they felt guilty. My mother cried all the time and even though I didn’t want to do what I was doing I didn’t stop. I blew off the friends who really cared about me and traded them in for a new set of friends who also happened to be three to four years older than me. They had friends that were older then them so I was hanging out with people who ranged in age from eighteen and into their twenties. As far as I am concerned there is nothing normal about a person in their twenties hanging out with sixteen-year-olds. Because of my cutting and drug abuse I had only developed unhealthy relationships. I regret this but have learned to accept all the things I can’t change and to finally let it all go. All of this landed me in rehab at age sixteen. It was 1990 and cutting wasn’t openly discussed anywhere. Admitting to once being a cutter is more difficult for me than admitting I am an addict. People unfortunately are much more forgiving to addicts than to cutters, at least in my experiences. There is still an unfair stigma attached to cutters but I am happy to see this is changing. There are many people who have this problem and have had the courage to speak out. My rehab treatment program was focused only on my drug abuse and not on my cutting. I believe it didn’t work because of this. To this day I have never met anyone personally who was a cutter or at least not to my knowledge. I wish I had had someone who knew what it was like that I could have talked to. I honestly believe that would have helped me greatly. This was an extremely painful subject along with my drug addiction for my family. My brother and I were always very close but he is six years older than me and at this point was out of the house living in New York City. We remained close and I would visit him in the city but I missed him at home. It was just another thing to add to my depression. At this point I was doing so many drugs but I wasn’t cutting nearly as much as I used to. Only once in a while when I would became really overwhelmed. I continued to struggle into my early twenties with cutting. I had to be brought to the hospital twice because I unintentionally cut too deep and the fat was protruding from my arm. I also had to convince them not to put me in the psych ward for mandatory observation as there were so many previous scars. This behavior continued for years and I only was able to stop this behavior with the help of my family and a counsellor that I could trust. Once I trusted people about these deep feelings I hid for so long was I able to stop this. I am so thankful that I broke the cycle when I did. I was looking for love in all the wrong places in all the wrong people. Please be careful in the choices you make and have the courage and wisdom to confront whatever you are going through. I would never want anyone to experience what I have been through. I have learned to love myself and today am able to look in the mirror at my reflection and smile. It’s been a long and painful road for both myself and my family and the friends who stuck by me although I did lose some very good ones along the way. Today I am fortunate to have the most loving relationship with my family and friends.


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