"I can save you from all of this hurting, elevate you cloudless, make you immortal; this is you taking fate into your own hands. You control this. Keep breathing through this. Don't sever this tie. I'm the only one who's seen what the inside of you looks like, who's tasted your blood in my small teeth, who understands your suffering. I'm the only one who's always here for you" (Kaycee Filson, "Hush")
“It’s been four long years. I was told it’d fade away, heal with time, be gone once I refocused on God & positive things in life. But it’s still here, lingering, haunting, taunting my unstable mind. It sucks the life out of me. Opening my eyelids is like lifting a
hundred pounds; my body aches for no reason; there is no purpose strong enough to motivate me into motion. When wrist-cutting is too evident & embarrassing, I switch to slashing lines on the outsides of my thighs. When that doesn’t fit my mood, I switch to punching tile walls repeatedly until I can hear & feel my knuckles shattering” (autumn 2011; age 18).
Other than cutting & punching, I burned myself several times as well. Self-harm became a sweet addiction, a beautifully secret escape, an unhealthy yet effective coping mechanism. Beginning at age fourteen & continuing through college, self-harm became part of my identity, the lines in my skin a constant reminder of my struggles, present & past. I always wonder, Will these battles continue endlessly? Will they never end? Will I never be free? Is death the only answer after all?
“It digs into my skin as I exert all anger & self-hatred into my right hand’s pressure. I push down & pull; a new line appears as the knife gnaws away at my skin. Relief of
some kind floods me, & I crave another line with red dewdrops of blood staining the rims.
“When I slice into my skin to break the unbearable intensity of an episode, I feel no pain at all. Even as blood droplets form & grow, I am relaxed without pain” (autumn 2014).
Confused about my cutting problem, I confronted an adult when I was fifteen. She asked why I was doing it; I said, I don’t know; she said, Stop doing that. & that was the end of the conversation. She never again brought it up, & I continued the pattern of self-harm for seven continuous years. I journaled, “It is futile, trying to gain help from some people. It is futile; I feel defeated & alone” (August 2008; age 15).
At first, cutting was a nice distraction from the turmoil of life & the pain in my heart. Then it provided a satisfying sense of control. It also became an expression of anger & hatred, towards myself & others.
My journals expressed great inner turmoil, emptiness, terror, fear, & an increasingly intense hatred, particularly towards myself.
“I JUST FUCKING HATE MYSELF so much! It’s taking everything in me not to cut myself right now. King (the evil voice in my head) makes me feel like I’m dying inside, so intensely; it’s quite frightening. Everything in me just shrivels up, & that’s why I’m so indifferent to life. I just want to curl up in a ball & DIE. I don’t care about anything anymore. Nothing means anything, & it’s like I can’t even fake emotion anymore; I can fake a smile but that’s it” (February 2010; age 16).
“There’s just no other outlet where I can do something to feel better without hurting others. Cutting is hidden; no one knows, no one cares; it only affects me” (February 2010; age 16).
During eleventh grade, I was grounded for a full six months (a story for another time!). Half a year of only exiting the home to attend church under the vigilant, strict eyes of my parental prison guards. During that time, cutting myself became more of a hobby than anything. I specifically remember one time when I sat there counting, seeing how many slices I could reach before I could no longer strike myself with effort enough to cause damage; I reached one hundred.
One article tackles the topic of why people self-injure:
“…overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or emotional numbness as common emotional triggers. Self-injury, they report, provides a way to manage intolerable feelings or a way to experience some sense of feeling. It is also used as means of coping with anxiety or other negative feelings & to relieve stress or pressure. Those who self-injure also report doing so to feel in control of their bodies & minds, to express feelings, to distract themselves from other problems, to communicate needs, to create visible & noticeable wounds, to purify themselves, to reenact a trauma in an attempt to resolve it or to protect others from their emotional pain (Klonsky, 2007; DiLazzero, 2003). Regardless of the specific reason provided, self-injury may best be understood as a maladaptive coping mechanism, but one that works – at least for a while.”
It was a normal part of me, my scars; hiding them became a normal daily task. Despite its alluring, addictive personality, I attempted to quit cutting multiple times. Though successful for awhile, I always reunited my desperate self with it. Only at a few points in life did I regret the lines slashed into my body, growing self-conscious about the scars & ashamed of the weakness & indifference that always leads to them.
“I fear that just five minutes of uncontrollable weakness & an emotional breakdown will be all it takes to cave in. I need to have more self-control” (May 2010; age 17).
I was able to quit self-harming for a distraction & some sense of control, but then the voices returned, & cutting is the only thing that grounds me in reality & quiets the chaos brewing in my mind, both in the darkness of depression & the overwhelming energy of hypomania.
“I loath my scars from cutting. I lather them in lotion a multitude of times, followed by a light massage with a lotion specifically to fade scars. For the first time, I truly do not want to be defined by this struggle.”
The battle continues, but I think I finally have the upper hand.