I want to share something that I think is important to share. However, before I delve in, I would like to forewarn any readers: this particular blog post may contain subject matter that is difficult for some. It is concerning self-mutilation. I have attached pictures. My reasoning being that there is a deep misunderstanding of self-mutliation within our culture/society. With this addiction comes shame, guilt, judgement and prejudice. For this reason, many do not seek to get help. It is that reason that I’m going to share my story in this blog. I will also post pictures. So, if you find this to be something you cannot handle, please do not read any further
I have been self-mutilating since I was thirteen years old. At first, it was simply poking myself with various objects: pushpins, pens, and paperclips. I found the practice to be relieving. It allowed me to focus my attention on a physical source of pain, rather than all the emotional pain I felt.
As time progressed, I began to hit myself on the thighs. I also began to obsessively pick at scabs, and digging into existing sores. My legs are littered with scars because of this.
I also began to practice a form of Trichotillomania. I would take tweezers and pull my leg hairs and armpit hairs out. I would also pull pubic hair out.
Unfortunately, it was never enough. No amount of physical pain could quiet the monsters of depression, post traumatic stress disorder, the racing thoughts, the anxiety, or the extremely low self-esteem for myself.
When I was 20, I was raped. Shortly thereafter, I began to cut myself with any and everything I could find. Scissors became a favorite of mine. But, I didn’t really discriminate.
I also began to carve words into my my legs, my stomach, and my arms. I was able to hide it because I would wear long sleaves, and once my scars healed, they would quickly fade to white and become practically invisible.
A few years ago, I was placed in an inpatient psychiatric facility for attempted suicide. It was this stay that I finally admitted to my healthcare providers that I cut. I really couldn’t deny it. The cuts were completely visible when wearing the hospital gown they provided.
During my stay I was evaluated and the doctor diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder. Personally, I find the name of the disorder to be confusing. The name seemingly suggests that one might have a fractured personality or multiple personalties. I would say fractured, broken, is probably closer. Many with BPD are self-mutilators.
But simply receiving a diagnosis doesn’t really change much. And just like with any other illness, it takes a team of people to bring the patient to wellness and healing, with the most important team player being the patient.
Those with BPD tend to struggle with their emotions. Emotions are felt intensely. What others say and do, becomes all consuming. At least, this has been my experience. And I think some of this mostly has to do with the trauma I experienced growing up. Its as if my brain got stuck in the flight or fight response, and being me, I’m pretty good at both primal coping mechanisms.
Thankfully, BPD has been proven to be very treatable. Almost curable.
However, the practice of self-mutilation is itself its own beast. It becomes consuming, devouring all my self worth. After each cutting episode, I feel ashamed, and quite foolish.
This past Saturday night, I cut. This time, I cut the words “whore slut” into the underside of my left forearm; a spot that receives far too much attention from this addiction, like a heroine addicts favorite spot to shoot up.
Now, let me get a few pieces of information out there. Most people who self-mutilate are not attempting to commit suicide. And its not about getting attention. If it were, we’d go around uncovered.
As someone who has intense emotions, it becomes overwhelming when I believe that someone is judging me, having no compassion on me, or mercy. I internalize whatever I perceive their opinion of me to be. In this case, it had to do with my recent separation from my husband. I was being made to look like a whore and a slut. I wasn’t given any opportunity to explain anything, and my and our private matters were being made public.
I was so emotionally distraught, overwhelmed and absolutely incapable of dealing with the amount of shame and guilt. To deal with this I cut. Did I feel better afterward? Yes, I did. Endorphins and other feel-good hormones are released anytime we are injured. Which makes this addiction even more addicting.
And this is why I’m sharing. I’m sharing because I’m tired of the shroud of guilt and shame about self-mutilation or self-harm. I’m tired of hiding it. I’m tired of being addicted to it. I want to find freedom from it. But I know that to do so, I must put it out there. I must share my struggle with the world and maybe, just maybe, find healing from the compassion of others. Maybe even from the solidarity of others who also struggle with self-harm/mutilation.
Its time, world, to see self-harm/mutilation for what it is: an addiction and a very poor coping mechanism. Its time to stop passing judgement and actually help those around you. Be open to your friends. Let them know that there is nothing they can’t tell you. Be willing to listen. Be willing to learn.
Today has been day number three of no cutting. I hope this was my last time. All I can do isone day at a time. So, that’s what I’m going to do.
BELOW ARE PICTURES OF MY LAST CUTTING EPISODE. PLEASE BE MINDFUL OF YOUR OWN HEALTH AND REFRAIN FROM VIEWING IF YOU FEEL THAT IT WILL UPSET YOU OR CAUSE YOU TO WANT TO CUT IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH SELF-HARM/MUTILATION.