Self-Injury Awareness Day 2013

***This post could contain triggers.***

Self-Injury Awareness Day

It’s been nearly 20 years since the first time I cut myself. I can remember the events of that night easily, but I don’t recall the thought process. I doubt there was much of one at all.

Thinking back on that night is like an out-of-body experience now. I see myself from behind . . . reaching on top of the refrigerator (I don’t know what I was looking for) and finding the box of industrial razor blades. I pulled a few out of the box and carried them with me into the living room. I sat on the reclining chair and looked at the notebook that sat on the end table, the one with the words, “I’m fucked up” written in dark pencil, the same words traced over and over again with a heavy hand.

I pulled a razor out of its paper covering and felt the cool metal between my fingers. I lightly dragged it across the back of my hand for several minutes before actually breaking the skin. I watched the drops of blood form as I pressed a little deeper. I don’t remember pain. It was more of a trance. I kept dragging, kept digging, kept pressing until the back of my hand contained nearly a dozen lines of blood . . . there was no pattern, no rhythm.

It didn’t occur to me until well afterwards that people might ask where the scratches came from . . . they weren’t really cuts . . . not yet . . . that would take a couple more weeks. I explained away the marks as cat scratches. Nobody questioned it, not even those who knew my cat only had claws in the back. I was smarter the next time. I moved my cuts to my upper thighs . . . far away from anyone’s curious eyes.

I only cut for 2 years because at 16 I discovered burning. The burning was more spiritual than the cutting, it was also more painful and the scars lasted longer . . . and there was no mess to clean up. I’d flick the flame on my lighter and hold it upside down. I was mesmerized as I watched the flame heat the metal. When the metal was hot enough, I’d press it into my thigh . . . hold it there until it throbbed, until the heat from the metal dissipated. I’d take a deep breath and my entire body would relax. The warmest calm would wash over me. It was my escape from . . . . everything.

I burned to distract myself from the emotional pain. I burned to feel when there was only numb. I burned to relax when I was stressed. I burned when I was happy because happy was so foreign. Any conflict, any issue could be solved with my lighter.

I stopped self-injuring on a regular basis shortly before I turned 18, but the struggle has never ended. I slip up every few years . . . there’s always that longing . . . always that desire for the calm. I don’t think I ever make it through a day without thinking about it. I’ve even glorified the cutting in my mind and that was definitely not my method of choice. Cutting never made me feel the way burning did.

Tomorrow is Self-Injury Awareness Day. I didn’t know that until last week . . . . I didn’t even know we had a day. I don’t know if that really means anything, but I thought I should take the time to write a little bit about my experiences. I’ve written about them before . . . and I’ll write about them again . . . because the more I write about it, the easier it is for me to accept it as part of myself . . . and the more I write about it, the more I am able to connect with others who understand, others who have been there, others who are there . . . and the more I write about it, just maybe, the more people who don’t understand will start to try to understand.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Self-Injury is something you can never really get away from. The thoughts and feelings come back, you just have to try and find another healthy way of coping. I’ve made nearly 10 years injury free. It is possible, and well worth it!

    Reply

    • I’ve definitely found healthier ways of coping . . . and most of the time, I can focus on those. And I absolutely agree that it is well worth it!

      Thank you for reading and sharing!

      Reply

  2. Sometimes the emotional pain is so intense we want someone to see our hurt! I understand this. If you feel like talking I would love to talk to you. I found it helps to tell the story… of the real pain! Love you!

    Reply

  3. You are brave. YOu are amazing. I’ve never burned, only cut. I wish I could say it’s been a long time since I last did it, but it hasn’t. Less than a year for me. I have gone long stretches before when I thought I was done, and then returned to it. It follows me. I’m just glad you can understand it. So many people liken it to suicide and that’s not what it’s about at all….

    xoxoxo

    Reply

    • Thank you, Erin ❤

      The longest I've ever gone was almost 5 years. I remember telling my therapist that I felt like a failure because I to start all over again. She said, "Why wouldn't the last 5 years still count?" So simple but so true. Regardless of how long I go in between burning, every time I resist is a success worth counting . . . and the same is true for you and cutting.

      I do truly believe it's an addiction and it's not something we will ever "get over," but we can always be there to support each other. And I'm here any time you ever feel the need or desire to reach out!

      {Hugs}

      Reply

  4. What a brave post, Dayle. Thank you for sharing x

    Reply

  5. Posted by bnatividad on March 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I can totally relate to this. I stopped years ago, but then there was an incident recently, and the last one before that was about a year ago. At least now I can recognize when I might do it, and distract myself or better yet, deal with my emotional triggers. It’s really hard, though. I had no idea there was a Self-Injury Awareness Day. Thanks for writing this post.

    Reply

    • Thank you for sharing, Bee! . . . It *is* really hard. There are so many times I *know* what I should do but once I hit a certain point, I don’t *want* to do them. But, like you, I’m learning to recognize my triggers and deal with them . . . progress not perfection! ❤

      Reply

  6. I didn’t know this was today either…..this shares a day with the Read Across America Day. 😦 I have never self cut myself or burned myself, the closest I have come is dragging my nails across my skin and scratching myself. Anything more and honestly, I’m too chicken, which I guess in this case is a good thing. So I can’t relate to the cutting and burning, but I understand intense emotional pain and depression that lead to them and I feel sad for you and anyone else that end up doing this. 😦
    It’s very brave of you to talk about this and I hope it helps. I know talking about things that have hurt me always helps a little for me so I hope it helps you as well.

    Reply

    • Thank you, Sharon! . . . And yes, talking about it and writing about it help a great deal. I first wrote openly about self-injury almost 2 years ago, not that long after starting this blog. It was an extremely difficult thing to do then and it’s still difficult to do now, BUT I always feel better after I do . . . and when I see other people sharing, whether it’s about SI or depression or anxiety or mental illness in general, it gives me hope . . . because the more we all open up, the more we all talk about it, the less foreign it will be to everyone else and the fewer stereotypes will be attached!

      Reply

  7. […] The motivation behind fat shaming Thoughts on being poor, working hard, getting help, and passing judgment Self-Injury Awareness Day 2013 […]

    Reply

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