cutting out the pain
I am - I always will be - a recovering cutter. I began my journey along the road of self-mutilation/self-injury (henceforth SI) at the tender age of 15. My first cuts were small and healed quickly, but they opened a door on a world of soothing calm I had not yet experienced. My second cuts were vicious and scarring - the very first of what would become dozens upon dozens of horrible welted scars covering both of my arms.
My name is Shanna, and I self-injure; my mission is to help others through the nightmare of self-mutilation and breaking the habit that all-too-quickly becomes a debilitating crutch.
Chronicles of a Self-Injurer: My Story
This story originally appears on my self-injury website, Bleeding Out The Pain; visit for more information and help for yourself or a loved one.
I have a problem. It is an addiction and it is serious. I cut myself. When I am angry, panicked, scared, depressed, or just sad it is my way of coping. I first cut myself when I was fifteen, and it has taken me seven years to admit that I had a problem. Like any other addiction, I thought I was in control, that I could stop at any time, and that it wasn't really a problem.
I cut myself the first time to try and prove a point. My father drank a lot and I was trying to think of a way to get a message across to him that he was hurting his family deeply. Talking to him, crying, writing to him..nothing seemed to make a difference. Somehow I thought that maybe if I did something drastic, like cut myself because of his drinking, he would realize what an impact his actions were having on us. I was nervous and couldn't seem to make myself do it at first. Then I tried just running the razor blade over my skin and was surprised when blood began to seep through my skin. It hadn't hurt at all. I cut my arm twice, and leg once. Then I felt very ashamed and cried. My Mom saw and became angry with me and my Dad said I was "stupid". I had always thought of hurting myself before, but this was the first time I'd ever done anything like this.
The next time was a few months later. I had gotten into a huge fight with my parents over something they were furious at me for that I did not feel I deserved punishment for. I felt guilty about what I'd done, but it had not been my fault. I was furious at them and at myself. I ran upstairs and into the bathroom after everyone left the house. Using my razor blade, I screamed and cried "It's not my fault!" as I literally hacked at my upper left arm with angry, vicious slashes. My arm was covered in small, bloody cuts and one large, deep gash that I still bear the markings of today. It was my first scar. I hid my cuts with long sleeves until they healed enough to not be so noticeable.
Over the years I have cut myself deeply and horribly with razor blades and knives for various reasons and heartaches. My arms and some of my legs are covered in terrible scars. I call them my "battle scars" for each one marks a time in my life where things became so unbearable I had no other way to cope. The cuts kept getting worse and the frequency with which I did so became more. There are times that I cut myself just to cut myself, because, in truth, I liked to do it. There was something healing about "bleeding out the pain". When I could not deal with the pain on the inside, I brought it forth on the outside. This pain was real, I could feel it and see it and I could deal with that. It calmed me, it soothed me.
As the number of scars on my arms grew to be impossible to hide and more than a little frightening looking to the uninitiated, I began to realize that I could not stop by myself. A good friend talked me into taking the first few steps: admitting to everyone I had a problem and taking the first steps towards recovery. Right now I am on that road to recovery, taking the first few steps with a positive outlook on the future and the feeling I'm doing the right thing.
I believe it changed for me when I realized that I'd been waiting for the "want" to cut myself to go away. But I realized, just like recovered alcoholics who never stop wanting the alcohol, I would always want to cut myself again. I had to learn to say no to my addiction and find other ways of coping. Even as I take the first few tentative steps toward stopping, there is a part of me that doesn't want to stop. It will take all of my willpower to never cut myself again, but I know that I can do it.
It's Hard To Explain
I found this quote, on The Simbian Line, that really described my life as a full-time cutter. Describing what it's like, why you do it, and when you do it, along with how you feel afterwards about the act and the scars is something I often having trouble with; this piece says it so perfectly - I could have written these words myself:
You might imagine that a person would resort to self-mutilation only under extremes of duress, but once I’d crossed that line the first time, taken that fateful step off the precipice, then almost any reason was a good enough reason, almost any provocation enough. Cutting was my all-purpose solution. My scars ought to be a charm bracelet of mnemonics, each a permanent reminder of its precipitating event, but maybe the most disturbing thing I can say about the history of my cutting is that for the most part I can’t even remember the whens and the whys behind those wounds. It didn’t take much to make me cut. Frustration, humiliation, insecurity, guilt, remorse, loneliness—I cut ’em all out. They were like a poison, caustic and destructive, as though lye had been siphoned into my veins. The only way I could survive them, I thought, was to keep draining them from my blood.
An Ongoing Battle
My healing began the day I realized the desire to cut would never go away - that waiting for such a thing to happen was only prolonging my own self-harm. Like any other addiction, I battle the want to cut every time life gets out of control or unbearable; it is my crutch, my coping mechanism, the solace that I first seek in times of trouble.
Though I fight the urge and continue the battle every day of my life, I have no shame in admitting my stumbles along the neverending path of healing. I have fallen back - I will probably always fall back at times. It is scary and humbling, yet a constant reminder to work ever harder at healing my bruised soul and broken body.
If you or someone you know has a self-inury problem and would like to talk - please do not hesitate to contact me skatoolaki AT gmail or instant message me as vamp_lynx on Yahoo! Messenger. My only goal is to help others avoid cutting and educate those who would like to know more about this horrible, yet escalating, problem.
You can also learn more on this informative page at the Cool Nurse site: Self-Injury - Why Do I Keep Cutting Myself? I also have a lot of information, personal advice, and helpful links on my self-injury website, Bleeding Out The Pain.
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real.
- by Johnny Cash, "Hurt".