TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses what might happen when you cut.
This post functions primarily to educate others on what goes through someone’s head before cutting. This is an issue that is not discussed nearly enough, and those who have cut or done another form of self-harm are often misunderstood and stereotyped. Please note that everyone’s situation is unique, and I can only use what I know. This post combines my experiences with those of others I know personally and with those whose stories I have read. Feel free to comment with any personal experiences that might benefit the conversation.
Suppose you want to cut.You probably have some reasons. Maybe you’re going through a situation that doesn’t seem like it will get better. Maybe the emotions are too strong that you don’t know how to handle it anymore. Maybe think you deserve pain. Maybe you want to punish yourself. Maybe you don’t really want to do it but don’t think you have another choice. You’ve probably thought about it a lot.
That first time, you probably won’t do a whole lot of damage. Maybe, you decided to just do it once and never do again.
So, let’s say you decide to scrape yourself the first time. It feels great. It feels so relieving and gives you a sort of rush. But these good feelings last only as long as you do it. When you’re done, you are flooded with guilt. You feel worse than before. But you can’t push the thoughts of the next time out of your head. You had vowed to do it just once, but you already want to do it again. But doing the same thing over and over again won’t give you the same rush, so you’ll do it a little worse. And the cycle will continue.
You do it for a period of time. Maybe you hear voices that tell you to do it. Maybe you do it for the rush or the self-punishment. Or maybe you’re doing it for another reason. There are an infinite number of reasons for cutting.
You are terrified of being alone because of the fear of repeating it. Maybe you’re scared that one day you’ll go a little too deep and end up in the ER. Maybe you’re scared you’ll hit an artery and no one will find you and you’ll accidentally kill yourself. Maybe you see bloody images of yourself in your head that are portrayed as good and encourage you to repeat the self-harm. Maybe you’re nervous around other people and don’t want people to touch you, partly because it hurts but also because you don’t want them to feel the band-aids, scabs, and scars through your clothes. Maybe some scars are accidentally seen and you find yourself lying to explain what happened. Strain is put on all your relationships, even your closest friendships. Your thoughts get darker. You wonder when your friends will stop caring. You might become grateful to past or current bullies for showing you that you are awful and needed punishment. You will hurt every day. You will live with the shame and regret every day.
Then, let’s say you decide you want to try to stop. This is when it gets hard. Cutting is an addiction. Stopping an addiction often involves withdrawal. Not only do you have the above symptoms but you also have withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal could be voices that increase with volume until you give in and cut again. Maybe you feel the pain of cutting without having to do it. Maybe you start writing on yourself to avoid cutting and find your arms and parts of your legs covered in writing. Maybe you find yourself replacing it with another form of self-harm. It feels like you are in a living nightmare. All you want to do is to escape from your brain. You know that if you cut again, it will get a little better – for the time being. But then it will be even harder to stop.
How it ends it up to you. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of fighting. Maybe you’ll keep giving in. Maybe you’ll end up at the ER and that will scare you so you’ll never do it again. Maybe you’ll go to the ER and like the attention from your family and do it badly again. Maybe you will gather the courage to never do it again.
Those who cut are humans in so much (emotional/psychological) pain they don’t know how to survive. They aren’t creeps or vampires or monsters. The chances of them wanting to hurt others is incredibly low. Even when that is present, it might not be linked to the self-harm but to something deeper, like the cause of the self-harm or another psychological issue. If someone tells you that they’re cutting, it took a lot of courage, so listen to them and ask if there is any way you can help them. Who knows? Maybe you’ll save a life.