Posted on Monday, May 2, 2011 in Uncategorized
“My friend cuts.” “Our daughter cuts.” “My son cuts.” “I cannot understand why. It’s so disgusting!”
There are many methods to self-injure. I’ll not list them all. I’ll use “cutting” as a synonym for all forms of self-injury.
There are reasons people self-injure, I’ll mention one. Most people that I know would say that they began cutting as way to “relieve the pain”.
While I remember glorying in my wounds and trying to get attention for damage that I caused myself, most “cutters” do not cut to get attention. Contrary to any preconceived notions you may have cutting is seldom a reflecting of suicidal thoughts. Instead, the cuts reflect intense emotional pain. Pain that seems uncontrollable.
Cutting for many cutters becomes an addictive method to control pain. Many teens have told me that “it’s the only way I know how to deal with the pain.”
Cutters typically feel inadequate, guilty, lonely and insignificant, and afraid. Many live in constant fear.
They feel inadequate to cope with life’s challenges.
They feel guilty knowing that in some way somehow they are letting someone down.
They feel lonely because feelings they battle, lies that they believe, and choices they make convince them to hide their real identity.
Cutters feel afraid that the feelings, lies, and choices they make will lead to harmful consequences. The cuts are not the harm they fear. The harm they fear is much deeper than the pain their inflict on their body.
Common [Mis] Beliefs
Cutters fear emotional pain and consequences that they believe have great power in their lives.
“If you knew what I was feeling you would not understand me. Worse yet, you would despise me.”
“If you knew what I believe you would think I’m stupid. Worse yet, you wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore.”
“If you knew what I’ve done you would know that I’m right and you would hate me too.”
Fortunately, most “cutters” I’ve met find cutting helps them cope. They are typically neither suicidal nor intentionally “self-destructive” they seek hopeful solutions to their pain.
Though they may have suicidal thoughts, they want to live.
My concern is not that their lives are threatened. I am concerned how that they will view themselves as they age and mature.
The irony as my friend Tim has pointed out is that he saw cutting himself as way to temporarily watch your problems bleed out. They “run out and you can just like wash them or wipe them away.”
It’s like all pain-reducing behaviors there is sometimes a short-term benefit with a long-term consequence. While in the short-term they are turning emotional pain into physical pain, for those who self-injure enough to leave scars there is a lasting reminder of the pain they’ve experience long after they might normally have forgotten it.
The blood might have been wiped away but the scars may remain.
Will they be able to use their scars to help others heal like my friend Heather does, “while I am not proud of them I know that I can understand where other cutters come from and how they feel. I have learned that talking about that period of my life helps others understand that they are not alone.“
Or will their scars cause them shame that defeats them?
My concern, mysilentscream.