Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Confessional: Self Harm

In a previous post I talked about my struggle with an eating disorder, and as much I would like to say that this has been my only struggle, I also had a battle with self harm. And in my case, this was cutting.

Self harm can mean any number of things. It most commonly manifests itself in cutting the skin, however in some cases, burning the skin, punching or striking yourself or engaging in any behaviour that is intentionally harmful to yourself are also considered Self Harm. Some consider self harm as a cry for attention and don't take it very seriously, but it can be extremely dangerous!!

So, I want to share my experience with cutting, and I just want to say that this is solely based on my own experience and not all situations are the same.

As I began to receive treatment for my anorexia, I was having trouble dealing with stressful situations. I felt like my only coping mechanism was taken away, and I didn't know what to do. One night, after a bit of pacing and stressing, I picked up a blade for a box cutter and made a small cut on my upper arm. I almost instantly felt calmer and relaxed. I made another cut and then another. I now understand that what was happening was that my body was releasing endorphins and adrenaline to battle the pain. At the time though, it just felt good. The rush was an instant release, and not only was there a physical reaction, it also acted as a mental break. I had something else to focus on.

And that was the start of three years of cutting. I was lucky in that it was a somewhat infrequent part of my life and I never cut so deep that I am left with scars. I finally stopped when I began to grow up and learned a new skill set to deal with all of this stress. I learned to talk about things right away when things begin to pile up and the best tip for coping and working it out, is to write it down. Whenever I need to work out an issue, I write it down and work it through that way. I will admit that sometimes when life seems really overwhelming, I do think about cutting or restricting my food, but I know that it will only make everything worse!!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for being so candid. (´∀`)♡
    As a fellow self-harmer I am grateful for this post. It takes a lot of strength and courage to talk so openly about things like cutting and anorexia.

    I cut on and off for 7 years. When I was finally 2 years safe I decided to get my one and only tattoo. A symbolization of my strength and remembrance of all those people who helped me through (what I thought at the time was) the worst time of my life.

    I thought I'd respond more in detail to your post to provide another perspective on cutting. Your detailed analysis of the endorphine rush really makes sense of my sensations. I suffer from severe depression (I border on bipolar II) and before my medication there were days when it literally felt like I'd never feel anything but sadness ever again. Having grown up in a time where mental health was never talked about I was always told to just "be happy" or that "everyone goes through it, you're fine". After many years of hearing these things I began to believe that the pain I felt inside wasn't "real". I began cutting because I wanted to know if I could feel "real" pain anymore. Cutting made me feel "real". I, too, was lucky in the respect that I never cut deep enough to leave any permanent visible scars although I know the interior scars will continue to haunt me.