For the first time in months, I felt together. Sharp. In hurting myself, I had
at last found a way to release the pressure. But it
was more than that.
I was now different. I felt different. I’d discovered a way
to control my
feelings. Just because self-mutilation wasn’t deemed an acceptable
mechanism didn’t mean I was going to stop doing it.
–Victoria Leatham, Bloodletting: A Memoir of Secrets, Self-Harm, and Survival
I am a cutter.
Though I haven't truly cut in over a year, the unfortunate stigma of self-injury still surrounds me. In this day and age, people see my scars and recognize them for what they are. Some people say that it is a sign of the growing awareness of self-injury. It is, but it's not the right kind of awareness. It's awareness of the existence of self-injury, but it's not awareness of the truth of what it is and why people do it.
If someone has scars from a mechanical accident or burn marks from spilling boiling water, do we judge them as clumsy and absent-minded? No! Of course not! Yet, here I am, weak, immature, and making a mountain out of a molehill.
Once I had joined the ranks of the cutters, I found myself unable to leave. A disenchanted underground society, we understood each other's primal pain and a need for release. A criticism of self-injurers communicating with other self-injurers is that it doesn't promote recovery. In my case at least, that wasn't true at all: while we all felt the same exhilaration of bloodletting, we urged one another to stop, even as we went against our own advice. We formed pacts, daring each other to go the longest without self-injuring. And what was so amazing was that no one got preached at- we were all at the same level, and no one could judge another negatively.
I don't know if my experience was unusually positive, but it made me feel like a human being, not a weak, sub-par alien without coping mechanisms.
People find this blog searching for advice on how to self-harm. I cannot offer that. The need to hurt oneself comes from within, and there's not one way that eases the mind better or faster. I don't want to promote self-injury to those who may find another way to cope. While I don't like risk statistics being shoved under my nose, they still need to acknowledged. Self-injury is sometimes the only thing keeping people from committing suicide, though. And since cutting is A Very Bad Thing, but suicide is A Much Worse Thing, they should probably lay off on the self-injury a little. Also, in a lot of cases it's either self-injury or illegal drugs- which one is the Worse Thing?
Unless these scars smooth over, I will always be seen as a cutter. I can't say I'm proud, but it can't be farther from the truth. I will never preach about the danger and dire need of professional help to cutters and make them feel ashamed of something out of their control, because inside and out, I will always have the vision of one.