I know you're wondering why people cut themselves. I'm going to give you the answer to that.
My name is Krysten. I'm 16 years old, and I live in a small town in northern New Jersey. I'm a junior in high school, and until recently, I've gotten all A's and B's. I'm a member of National Honor Society, the oldest child in my family, a writer for the school paper, and a co-editor for the school literary magazine. Both my parents live in the same house with me, and I have one little brother named Matt. Pretty normal life, right?
Why Would You Cut Yourself?
The first question that comes to people's minds and mouths is "Why?" Why would someone purposely harm themselves? Why would you cut yourself? For me, it's one of the only forms of relief I have from living with depression. It's a way I can take charge of my emotions when I feel them. I hate confrontation, and I never feel I can fight back because my greatest fear is being abandoned by the people I care about. I tend to lose a lot of best friends, and my mother and I can barely stay in the same room for five minutes without exploding into argument... or she does, while I sit there quietly.
In ninth grade, when I was 13, I went through one of the periods of depression that I've experienced for several years now. A friend of mine had gotten hooked on the world of drinking and casual sex. I had discovered that another friend was on drugs. My parents haven't had a peaceful marriage for years, but that year was particularly volatile. I remember starting out small, just experimentally, wanting to "see how much I could take." It wasn't much... I scratched my arm a little with fingernails and paper clips and pricked myself with sewing needles a couple of times. It stopped after a few weeks. The depression didn't, though. That went on for years after, sometimes dormant, but eventually rearing it's ugly head again, and becoming increasingly more severe when it did. I didn't know what to do about it, so I did nothing.
At the beginning of school this year, I was thrown into the worst depression yet. My best friend and the guy I was in love with, Brandon, who I met over the Internet, came up to visit me and fell in love with my only close friend in my town, Heather. Their secret was carried out for a few weeks behind my back before I found out about it. Once I did, Brandon showed no remorse, and Heather broke down into pieces. Desperate to fix both of their lives, I tried to put up a front that I could deal with losing the only two people in my life that I had trusted. I put up a front that everything was okay. It wasn't.
People Cut Themselves Because It Makes Them Feel Better
One day I swung my shoulder bag over one shoulder, and the braid of wire that my house key dangles from caught the skin of my arm at the sharp end and left a long red scratch in my skin. As I looked at it, I realized that this didn't hurt. It intrigued me. My days were incredibly difficult to get through, especially trying not to let on how severe my depression had gotten. Now, here was something that distracted me. I went home that night and disassembled my little key chain, coming up with a thick piece of wire with two razor sharp ends (we use it in art class for sculptures). I dragged one end across my arm and red welts popped up. It didn't hurt, oddly. It felt good - right, somehow. I put the wire away and thought nothing of it.
Soon after that, I forced myself to get a therapist, something which was incredibly hard for me, because I've always counted on my ability to get through everything ON MY OWN, with no outside help. I was diagnosed with major depression. When my parents were told about this, they found it difficult to comprehend, and my mother eventually chose to either ignore it or not care about it. Nothing's changed between us since she learned about what I was going through.
"Scars and blood say more for me than words ever could."
Although my therapist has taken away my cutting implements a few times, I've managed to find more. I've gotten worse over the past few weeks, and rapidly. Now, whenever my parents yell at me, which I absolutely cannot take in my state of mind, even over something small, I start shaking. I go into my room and lock the door and frantically go about raising blood drops on my skin until I feel calm again. By now, if I don't bleed, I don't feel better. The sight of my own blood spilling forth sets me back in control. I like to think when I cut, "Okay, now all the pain in your head is in your skin." Once the scratches and cuts stop hurting, I do it again and feel calm again. I refuse to cry in front of people whenever I can help it, so I cut instead. I can count two dozen self-injury scars or cuts on my forearms, which is mainly where I injure myself. When there are absolutely no implements available and I am hurting emotionally beyond what I can take, I hit myself in my shoulders until they bruise. There are lots of ways to self-injure.
It's becoming hard to wear short-sleeved shirts, because there is no excuse for the battlefield people can see when I turn my arm over. The lines are straight, perfect, and parallel. They are obviously signs of self-injury. So I wear long-sleeved shirts constantly. Only one person beside my therapist knows I do this, and some of my friends online that do it as well. I panic when the scars fade, because, like Kris said in her article "I'm a Cutter. A Teenager Cutting Myself: "being a cutter, it is the scars that make me remember." Scars put it in front of me that I have a choice besides emotional pain, and that it is an easier choice. I used to think I had a low pain threshold. Part of me sees strength in what I do now, and I can't see myself wanting to stop anytime soon, even if I should. And there are words I can't or won't speak to people in my scars. Scars and blood say more for me then words ever could.
Emotions of People Cutting Themselves
How I Feel...
In speaking to other cutters, I believe the emotions I feel are similar to those of other people cutting themselves. Before I cut, I'm usually feeling a great deal of self-loathing. I can't ever remember liking myself, but over the past years, I've hated everything about me, from my looks to my attitude to my unstable personal relationships. Before I cut, something has usually happened to worsen this. I'm usually extremely depressed and feeling hopeless and worthless, as if I have no one to turn to. Sometimes I'm angry at myself for something I've done and see it as my punishment. Other times, I feel as if my entire body and mind has gone numb. Normally, when I have what most people call a "good day," I get this sweeping numbness in place of depression... and it scares me. Cutting brings me back down to earth, so to speak. Depression, rotten as it is, is what I'm used to.
While I'm cutting, I usually concentrate on raising blood, and my mind settles into a flat calm. I do not feel my emotional pain once marks begin to raise on my skin, but it's not the same as numbness. I do feel the calm and the feeling that my pain is draining from mind into body. Afterwards, sometimes I feel guilty, but that's usually a little while after. Most of the time, an hour or so after I cut, I'll start thinking thoughts like, "What the hell is wrong with you?" A lot of the time, I tell myself how crazy I am, which adds to the self-loathing. Eventually, someone will say or do something within the next day that triggers me, and this will combine with my self-hatred and make me lock myself in my room again.
Now, hopefully, you have a better idea of why people cut themselves. You might also find it interesting to read about the common personality traits of self-injurers.
More Cutting Stories, Self Harm Stories here.