Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cuts and Scratches Run Deeper Than the Surface

This entry is based on my journey with cutting or self-harm which is something I did on and off from the age of 17 to 19. While my case was minor compared to some I have heard of, I still have a scar on my wrist and a few discolorations on my arm since stopping over seven years ago. The discolorations are much more obvious during the summer when the sun lightly tans my pale skin. I mostly scratched myself and occasionally cut or scratched hard enough to make me bleed. Here is my self harm journey and how I got out of this life threatening habit.

I remember starting this practice my junior year of high school. I had went through a lot that year. I involuntarily lost my viginity that year and went through hell with trying to get this guy prosecuted for raping me. He ended up getting a year probation for this and that only happened because I was under 18. He also was given a restraining order to stay away from me for two years. I will remember that day forever and how so few believed that I really was raped. I was forced to take the morning after pill since I was told if I did not and ended up pregnant, they would make me get an abortion. Keep in mind this order came from my christian conservative parents who were pro life. While I was not against abortion, I did not want to abort any babies if it came to that. I hated having those decisions made for me as most of mine were at that time.

The lost of control of my life that resulted from the rape which I barely controlled at all to begin with caused me to seek a way to releave stress and tension. While I did other things at the time to make me feel better, this was one I could do at home in my bedroom. I could hide it in the winter on my arms and during the summer I did it less, but could do my upper legs if I absolutely needed to. I was not going to wear long sleeves all year. The safety pins would scratch the surface of my skin, making pink marks that would sting and hurt.

These safety pins were more than just an instrument to deface my skin with. Safety pins at the time became one of my fashion statements as a punk/metal/goth type of teenager. While I was not allowed to get much from stores like hot topic, I did put my own spin on regular clothes and wore a lot of darker colors. These safety pins that I fastened to clothes and even wore them as bracelets and earrings, were also my main instrument of choice. I could scratch and prick myself on purpose with this small tool and focus on that pain instead of the pain I was going through. Occasionally I would make a small cut if this was not enough for me that day. For the longest time I thought I had complete control of this practice. I had scratches and marks, but they were well hidden and very few left scars.

Then a few years later, I almost went too far. I was on an anti depressant and was feeling manic during my freshman year of college. I was experimenting with who I could be and was making poor choices. One day, this led me to want to die and I started to scratch and cut myself as I had done before. It was not enough this time, so I got a pair of scissors to use on my wrist. This was the only instrument I could find to do some bigger damage. I felt I had messed up my life so much, there was no reason to live. I had unstable relationships, very few real friends, and was using drinking, smoking, and other things to get through the day. I also was gaining weight and hated myself for it. Mentally I felt like my present and my past were pushing me to the edge. I got lucky this day, my friend knocked on my door as I was getting ready to make a cut that probably would have been fatal. I tried to hide everything and answered the door. He came in and saw my arms. There were scratches and cuts all over them and he figured out what I was doing. He was the first person to ever notice this. I felt so ashamed, that I brought this up during my next session with the psychiatrist and I got myself into recovery.

Ever since that day, I have stayed away from causing myself self harm. One of the things that keeps me from doing this is looking at my scar on my wrist and remembering how close I came to possibly ending my life. The curiousity of what is to come in my future keeps me going and away from the sharp objects. I also try to treat my body as a temple now instead of something I hate and don't care about. I now have been clean of this for over seven years and I feel confident that I will never do this again. While it was a stress relever in the short run, it also made me mutilate myself and feel dirty for what I did.

Somehow my mom and stepdad never found out that I ever did this. It was better for them not to know. Especially since I often received threats from them to be institutionalized if I didn't stop being so wierd. At times they would wonder why I was in my room all the time when I was home and did not tell them much. I think it was pretty obvious why, they did not accept me for what I was and always wanted me to be someone else. Now I just accept that I am who I am and I try to be positive about life each and every day.

If any of you have ever done this to yourselves or know someone who has, share that with us if you are comfortable doing that. If you know someone who does this now, I hope you can somehow get them the help they need to stop. This is a real issue, especially among teenagers and young adults.


Anonymous said...

learned a lot

dys·func·tion said...

You and I seem to share a lot of similarities in our life.

I was a cutter too. The scratches were easier to hide, and were just as effective for the smaller stuff.

One time, I was so stressed out and without a tool that I gouged a cut into my arm with my thumbnail.

Bravo for sharing such a difficult part of your life.

Remy said...

I'm three years without self-injuring. However the ugly scars on my right hip are a constant reminder of those dark periods in my life.

From time to time I still today get the urge, but it passes without actually following through.

My parents don't know about it, nor do they know about my ongoing struggle with body image and anorexia. -sigh- It's tough, but I'm managing.

Thank you so much for sharing.