Why Do I Cut?
Why for the attention of course! Isn’t that what you think? It’s for the reaction – the disapproval, the joy of being a time waster, of knowing that you would rather be treating someone else, someone who deserves your care, such as someone who has been in a genuine accident and hasn’t done it to themselves.
One of the worst things about being a self-harmer is the reaction of those around me. The distress caused to my family and friends. The lack of understanding and condemning attitude that many in the medical profession show me. This isn’t always the case but it is more often than not. In fact I now avoid A & E like the plague. I am an expert and steri-stripping cut that many Doctors would suture and am furious with myself if I miss-judge a cut and can’t stick it together on my own.
There are many reasons why I might cut, but in general it is a way of coping. It is not a first resort but a last resort. I often wonder if clinicians consider what it must take to put a blade to your flesh and cut. I’m not talking scratches, but lacerations where you have sliced through the skin and muscle. I’m talking tendon damage and spurting blood vessels. And yes it does hurt. What would it take to make you cut? How bad would you have to be feeling? Would you cut to protect a family member from harm? Whatever the provocation I’m sure you wouldn’t cut if you could see another way out of the situation. What makes you think that it’s any different for me? What makes you think that I would do this to myself for some trivial reason or just to get a bit of attention?
So again, why do I cut?
One situation when I cut is when the emotional chaos is so overwhelming that I can’t stop it any other way. The thoughts and hurt charge through my mind. Often I can’t identify individual thoughts. It’s like a swirling, bubbling cauldron full of thoughts and pain that are spinning so fast that I can’t separate or identify any. I get to the point where I can’t think of anything else, I can’t distract myself, it grows and grows until I can no longer cope and I cut. How does cutting help? It changes the pain into a physical hurt, one that I know how to manage. The blood is important. In fact it is vital – it has to bleed! I sit there and watch the blood run down my arm and drip onto the floor. I can feel it’s warmth. I can watch the puddle grow and coagulate and it calms me. It’s as if the hurt inside is being let out with the blood. Afterwards there is the cleaning up process. Fixing the wound. This is a wound that I can fix. There is also the physiological response. The adrenalin and endorphins kicking in. I’ve heard self harm described as self medicating and I think that there is some truth in that. When I’ve been to A & E in the past I’ve been asked why I cut and on replying that I couldn’t cope, I’ve been told ‘You seem alright now.’ I say nothing but inside I’m thinking ‘Of course I’m alright now. I’ve cut. you needed to have seen me before I cut.’
Cutting is like taking a powerful tranquilliser. Except you don’t have to wait 45-60 minutes for it to kick in and it’s more effective. People sometimes ask why I didn’t take PRN meds. Sometimes I had but they were taking too long. Other times the situation simply escalated too fast. The trouble is when you are highly distressed you don’t tend to think the same way as when you are feeling calm. You just want it to stop and you want it to stop now.
Not all of my experiences with medical professionals have been negative. There have been those who simply accepted my actions and treated me with compassion and warmth. Who tended my injuries and were sorry that I felt so bad that I had to cut. When I have been consumed with guilt and self-loathing there have been a few who told me that I had no need to feel ashamed and reassured me that I was an OK person. There people have my heart felt thanks. They have no idea how much their treatment of me mattered, how precious it was.
Why do I cut? – Author Unknown