TRIGGER WARNING: There is a lot of talk about cutting and how much I used to like it. If this might trigger you to go back to old habits, skip this blog.
I watched a video today made by a woman named Asha Iqbal about why the Muslim community doesn’t really talk about self-harm. (Here’s the video) She basically says that they don’t really talk about it because of the misconception that self-harm means suicide which is against Islam. And like many religious groups, they are very strict about their sins and what is okay to talk about.
(I absolutely recommend following her on twitter as someone who is fighting the stigma. She has great insight and is doing wonderful things. But anyways…)
That really resonated with me because I used to cut myself from ages 12 to… well I haven’t in almost a year so I guess 26. It started out as a way to get my anger out and hurt my mother, and it eventually became the only thing that could calm me down.
Before I even made the first cut I was sent to the hospital for evaluation. At 12 years old I had a butcher knife in my drawer and I just played with the possibilities. My mother found it and hours later I was in the asylum for kids. Feeling alone, scared, and isolated. That was the first lesson of keeping my mouth shut. But like most people with BPD, I don’t learn lessons very well.
When I got back, I was so angry so I used it. And it felt so good. I fell in love with the way the blood trickled down my skin. It was therapeutic to watch something ooze out of me. And the pain made the pain go away if that makes any sense.
It got bad middle school and I barely even hid it. I would wear ace bandages around my arms of course, but I didn’t do it in inconspicuous places. Not until my best friend showed me hers on her stomach and I was like oh, that’s perfect.
I started doing it on my thighs because a pale 14-year-old in Florida can’t wear shorts without being made fun of, so I never wore them. No matter how hot it would get, I had jeans on. That was miserable, but it gave me a place to cut.
For years I would go down my thighs and after a while, I couldn’t talk about it to anyone anymore. My new friends in high-school didn’t understand. They would tell me don’t do that it hurts me. Please stop for me. It became a battle of trying to not break my friend’s hearts while dealing with whatever was going on in my head.
As high-school went on I made a best friend who did understand me. And she hated that I did it but she understood. She was also reckless but in different ways, our connection was from another universe. She would instead of pressuring me into stop cutting walk around with me. Anytime I felt overwhelmed with emotions she was there. That helped a lot, but I still wasn’t getting over my addiction to cutting just yet. But this relationship was probably one of the most unhealthy healthy relationships in my life. Yeah, we made mistakes, but I never felt so loved and accepted by anyone than her. (She’s the maid of honor at my wedding now, actually)
I tried to kill myself when I was 18 because my boyfriend broke up with me. Pretty dramatic, but that’s how we do. I tried to overdose on my anti-depressants but as soon as I did it I realized that I didn’t want to die and told my mom. Which sent me to the hospital and this time I went with the adults. What I learned in there was how to pretend to be healthy, and that’s about it.
When I went to jail at 20(? I don’t remember how old I was but around there) I had thoughts of suicide. I tried to make them go away by pressing my nails into my skin but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to die so I told the guard watching over the pod. On my way there the officers made fun of me, telling me it wasn’t that bad and I shouldn’t have gotten in trouble in the first place. I was put in a room with one other person and I was only allowed outside of my cell an hour a day to shower and make a phone call. We couldn’t have books, or a paper and pen, or even regular clothes because they could all be used to kill ourselves with it. For 11 days I was left in a cell with another anxiety-ridden person just bored out of our minds playing the “what if” game on what is going on outside of jail and who is betraying us and who is sleeping with who and where our money is and just stuff I really didn’t want to think about in the first place. I used my pretending to be healthy skills and got back into the general population after 11 days of solitary, but there I learned that I need to just deal with everything on my own.
The whole theme of this is I never cut myself to kill myself. Yeah, to this day I feel suicidal all of the time. Almost every day I think about putting a gun to my head and just making everything stop. But I don’t want to die. These thoughts aren’t something I am proud of, nor do I want them. But one thing that used to keep them at bay was cutting.
Obviously, better coping mechanisms are needed. I don’t want to cut anymore (I wear shorts now, so that’s just annoying to have those scars) it just becomes a last resort when nothing else is working. It’s been almost a year since the last time I did it, and I’m hoping that was the last time at all. But I know for a fact it wouldn’t have gone on so long if it wasn’t for people assuming that because I cut that means I want to die.
THIS IS WHERE I NEED YOU!
Right now, I do have healthier coping mechanisms. I’m a writer for crying out loud. I also have avoided cutting by beating our couch with a baseball bat. I look ridiculous but it doesn’t leave scars. It also helps I am in an extremely healthy relationship with a man who knows how to talk to me.
What are ways that YOU cope with overwhelming feelings?