I use to cut myself. I started when I was 16 during my first manic episode. I had heard of cutting, seen girls in school who never wore short sleeves and we all knew why, heard about kids being pulled into guidance offices over it, saw tv episodes and lifetime movies dedicated to it. I remember being in the shower and looking at the disposable razor I used to shave my legs and wondering what kind of relief self harm actually brought. I remember waiting, taking that razor and breaking in until it was just the blade and carefully hiding the broken plastic bits in a tissue before tossing them in the garbage so my mom wouldn’t question it. I remember running the blade through the flame on my lighter because that’s supposed to sterilize it, right? I remember using an alcohol prep pad to prime my fleshy thigh like I had seen doctors do before breaking your skin. I remember the methodical, well thought out, honestly curious way I went about that very first cut. This was my extremely fucked up introduction to self care. I remember how well it worked. How it stung so loud that it drowned out the emotional pain, and how the blood took a full minute to arrive on my skin in dark red beads. I remember the instant calm that washed over me when I saw that blood.
I remember the first time I was admitted to an inpatient mental health facility a few months later. During intake, the nurse had to count my scars. I remember looking at my naked 16 year old body in a mirror when she carelessly said that was impossible; far too many to count. I remember thinking maybe I should have made them into neat tally marks. How inconsiderate of me to make this nurse’s job more difficult than it probably already was.
I don’t know exactly how or when I stopped. It was slow and gradual so it’s unclear. I didn’t find or develop any great coping mechanism. I just found other ways to hurt myself.
I’m not here to tell you to stop self harming or to warn you about future implications of it. I still self harm in ways. It’s healthier and safer than heroin and helps more than a jog. It’s not my go to anymore though; I’ve developed a few other unhealthy coping mechanisms over the years like drinking. My only suggestion is to try doing a little less harm every time. I guess, hypothetically, that could even turn into loving yourself a little more each time too.