In the second post on this blog, I wrote a little something called Cutting out psychosis the hard way. It was the story of how I started cutting myself as a way to relieve the pain I was feeling. I cringe a little as I reread it because of what I wrote towards the end:
“After I realized the magic of this coping mechanism, I cut myself every time I had an episode, up until about 5 years ago. I now have scars covering both of my upper arms, hands and legs. I only cut where it couldn’t be seen when I wore clothing.
I wear the scars like a badge of honor now, not caring who sees them. It was some very tough years I made it through, my way. It may not be the way anyone else would choose, but it worked for me and it worked well. Between cutting and the pills, I survived those troublesome years. It was a kind of self-medication. Some people drink. I cut.”
I have a hard time believing that I wrote those words. I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time of its writing, but I can now truthfully say that I don’t feel that way at all.
My scars are a constant source of embarrassment and shame to me. Every time I look at them, I am transported back to every instance that I tried to cope with what I was feeling by cutting myself. My memories of those times come back so vividly to me, and those are not memories I want to revisit anymore. I mean, I already had to go through that shit once, do I have to force myself to relive it every time I close my eyes?
The biggest reason I regret writing that passage is the glorified image of self-harm that was invoked by those words. Did I even think about the people who were struggling with their own self-harming urges when I wrote that? To me those words sound like I am advocating self-harm as a great coping mechanism. Do I really feel that way?
If I really sit and think about it and be completely honest with myself, I have to say I feel a little anger at the person who wrote those words. That person was not me, because if I am truthful, I hate that fact that I used to cut myself, and if I had it to do over, knowing what I know now, I would never had picked up that razorblade in the first place.
I think I did a real disservice to the mental health community and people who suffer with mental pain like me every day. But the great thing about writing all my feelings down is that I can go back and reflect on the words and correct my mistakes. I have to remember that I never know who might be reading what I write, and if I don’t take the time to think before I write, I might put something down I really don’t feel and cause damage to an innocent person.
Kids, there are many different, and much better ways to cope with the shit you are feeling. I am 45 years old and have the benefit of experience, so listen when I say that self-harm not only damages you physically, but mentally as well. Find some help to combat the urges you feel, because you don’t want to look back on your life when you are older with shame and regret. Self-harm is an easy fix to the problems you are having, and sometimes the easy way is not always the best way.
I wish each and every one of you to have the strength to resist the urges to harm yourself.