If the body reflects the state of the soul and the soul is fucked up then some may take it upon themselves to make the state of the body correspond. If the body is property of the immutable personality, then as all flesh is transitory its ultimate state is unimportant and the property can be neglected or abused as seen fit by its owner. Pain, when self-inflicted, is no longer a sensation of helplessness but one of control.

Warning: the information contained from here on is to be viewed at your own risk. To some, it may contain disturbing and/or graphic material.

Disclaimer: I am not crazy. If you knew me, you would think I was the world's perfect example of a normal (if one can define normal) teenager. Until you got to know me too well, at least. I just have bad ways I use to cope with life. Almost anyone can relate to that; whether you yell at people, break things, hurt others, lock all your feelings inside until you explode... you get the picture I hope. It's just that my way of dealing with stuff has me ending up in the emergency room on occasion. Just as people can't handle a broken leg by themselves, others can't handle their feelings alone. I know I needed help. And maybe I still do sometimes. But that does not make someone who self injures any less than who he or she is without that distinction. And with that out of the way, I will continue.

The madness started in March of 1998; feelings of self-disgust mixed with the numbness of depression, both feeding on my mind. While my body slowly but surely wasted away, I turned to pain to distract myself. Seeing the blood and experiencing all too brief moments of something was what kept me sane for all those months I was locked in one hospital after another, being forced to sacrifice my dream. I went from having complete control over my life to having no say in anything, not even what to wear. I couldn't handle it.

As I sat staring at a plate of food which had been sitting in front of me for hours, I realized I deserved worse than this. Sitting and waiting for the doctors to ship me off to another hospital they hoped would deal with me more efficiently was too easy. That is when I made up my mind. I stopped taking my medication, and a week or so later, during one of the first few nights I spent in a room alone, I got the urge to punish myself. I sat straight up in the darkness, my thin blanket falling to the floor as I pushed it aside and climbed out of bed. Without turning on a light, I searched through the few things the nurses had alowed me to keep in my room. Most of it was clothes. But finally I found a packet of papers a therapist had given me. It was held together by a staple, which my hands were drawn to of their own accord. Before I knew what was happening, I had quickly taken the tiny piece of metal back to my bed, and got under the covers just as a nurse walked by on her hourly checks of the patients. As soon as all was clear, I slowly and deliberatly scratched the word "FAT" into the back of my left hand. It was just deep enough to bleed, but I still have the scar today.

After that first time, I didn't do it again for quite a while. Maybe three weeks. The funny thing was, no one noticed. I made feeble attempts to cover it up, but deep down I wanted someone to see. No one did.

When I started gaining weight, the cutting really took off. It got to the point I did it every day - I depended on doing it every day. I began to think that if I ever skipped a day and went without punishing myself, something horrible would happen. I wasn't sure what, but I just knew that it would.

In mid April, I think, I was allowed to visit home for a three day weekend. I ended up seeing my local doctor to get my cuts looked at, and then I was sent to the local medical hospital due to other complications. Something about dehydration. I hadn't eaten in days. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere by myself, and had to lay still as a nurse spent an hour trying to find a vein somewhere, anywhere, in my arm. I went back to the other hospital as soon as I was stable enough to travel, and was soon sent to yet another hospital. I was put on SH warning, the SH standing for Self Harm. I slept on a mattress in a hallway, the only place they could put me where I'd stay safe. And even then, I wasn't always.

After I was home for good, which happened in mid July, things cooled off for maybe a month. And I had been behaving myself remarkably well in the hospital, which is why they let me go. But towards the end of the year things got going again. I put myself in the emergency room with 36 stitches at one point. I stayed until three in the morning, and still got up to go to school the next day, covering the bandages so no one would know.

That was the time I noticed my reasons for hurting myself had changed slightly. It was no longer really a punishment, because I enjoyed doing it. It was more like a way to avoid the hurt, to make myself numb to my emotions by concentrating on something else. And even later still, I cut to actually feel something. Over the period of years, I have cut for too many reasons to count. But deep down, they all point to the same fear and belief. I do not like who I am, and until that changes, I will continue to find ways of expressing my hate.

I have not cut myself in over eight months now, and I don't ever plan on doing it again. If I can recover, anyone can.

Warning: May be Triggering

Self Injury refers to the practice of inflicting physical harm one onself as a coping mechanism for severe distress or depression. It may range from cutting (with knives, razors, glass etc ) to burning ( with matches, candles, cigarettes etc) to hitting or even biting yourself.

If the primary purpose is sexual pleasure or body decaration then it isnt SI.

SI is also known as Self-Mutilation however self-injurers dislike this term as it has negative connotations and implies that the intent is to maim the body and in most cases this is not so

SI is a coping mechanism, and as such is no different to other coping mechanisms like alchohol, drugs, eating disorders and workaholism. It does not indicate any form of psychosis or personality disorder. It carries a stigma however and most self injurers are very secretive about it an may go to great lengths to conceal or explain away marks or scars.

The reasons that people self injure are varied and are probably unique for each individual however common ones appear to be
I first came across SI when I was perusing the personal website of a girl called nay, and came across a 'hidden' section where she described her prediliction to SI and the ways in which she injured herself.

My first reaction was 'Wow this girls fucked up'......... and then I realised that I do it too. For some reason I had never made the connection.

I have a small neat scar on my leg in the shape of a W ( or perhaps an M ) where I have cut myself in the past. I don't do it often - only at the times when I have been extremely depressed. When I have been falling, sinking, spinning with no way to stop - once this year and twice in the 10 years before that.

I only have the one scar because I have always gone over the same spot.
I wanted it to hurt: Physical pain I could deal with. Physical pain I could control - and it took my attention from everything else.
I wanted it to scar: I guess I wanted something to match the hurt I felt inside. Something I bear with me.

If you self injure you are not alone. Be careful.
I cant believe I noded this.
There is something perversely comforting about recognizing a fellow Self Injurer's scars. Those thin white lines on an inner forearm or a couple of purple slashes across a bicep are as immediately identifiable, and bring a similar sense of kinship, as an esoteric movie reference or an obscure band t-shirt. And, like those things, many times you find you have nothing in common with the person except that at some time you both cut or burned yourselves, but the feeling of knowing something intimate and not necessarily obvious that you share, remains. Self Injurers are more observant of the flaws on other people's skin, possibly from the self-scrutiny that comes from trying to be so careful about hiding fresh wounds.

People who have never engaged in self injury would be amazed how many do. Self Injurers often feel very defensive about their chosen form of self-destruction, because they feel it doesn't really hurt anyone, the wounds heal, and it helps them cope. It is often hard for them to understand people's horror at their actions, but for a non-Self Injurer it is impossible to understand how maiming yourself could be theraputic. The three most harmful aspects of Self Injury are that it causes the people who care about Self Injurers a great deal of worry and upset, an injury may be made more severe than intended, and it can be a gateway to suicide attempts. One reason for Self Injury not mentioned above is that often with deep depresion comes an overwhelming numbness that permeates both your body and your emotions. Many times the pain and then subsequent endorphins realeased after injuring yourself are the only things you can really feel, and feeling anything seems better than nothing.
Often, in that state, you feel that the misery you bear isn't enough, that you deserve more pain.

Well, actually, you're not alone. I used to do that a lot, until people around me noticed the wounds and started to get concerned.

I don't know about you, or anyone else, but I did it to get even with myself for the horrible things I've done. There are two of me a lot of the time, it seems (there must needs be opposition in all things, right?) -- one wants us to survive and the other wants to destroy. Not just the body, but everything we've ever worked for. Drives me to do things I know are dumb, things I know I'll regret, just for the sheer pleasure of destruction.

Destruction gives euphoria. Even when you do something purely physical, like slice into your skin with a razor blade, your body promptly doses you with natural opiates. I think you can become sensitized to this, and start getting a rush from it. This is why, even though I may have promised the others that I won't cut myself anymore, I "accidentally" burn my hands on hot objects or bite my tongue until it bleeds (this last typically occurs when I am struggling to resist blurting out hurtful comments to fools who insist on being in my presence (don't lie to me -- I know you too have "bit your tongue" at times)).

We destroy ourselves, some of us (I can't speak for you, but I can speak for me, and for every me there are an undetermined number of people like me), in bits and pieces, because self-destruction is the true power trip.

A bright red scream

There have been books written recently which chronicle how disturbingly misunderstood this phenomenon has been. Many sufferers are traditionally met with antipathy by doctors, who find their self-injuring offensive. Therapists are often similarly unreceptive, erroneously labeling such people as suicidal or just setting them aside them as "borderline," a copout classification for so called manipulative, ‘difficult’ patients with inflexible, complex and unknowable disorders. It was actually hard for me personally to accept the stigma associated with self-injury. Me being a screamingly open person by nature, I didn’t bother trying to hide my self-mutilation tendencies. I’d talk about it sometimes just like I spoke of the rest of my illness(es). But unlike things like isolation, bulimia, and suicidal tendencies, (which they in some ways, understand) people seemed to greet cutting with a sort of disdain. They said it was ‘stupid’ and asked me if I was sure it wasn’t for ‘attention’. I was never quite sure how to explain it; because I wasn’t sure why I did it either. In reality, authors of these new, thankfully enlightening books tell us, cutters are people ‘frozen in trauma’. It is quite a conundrum because it is such an elusive and surprisingly widespread illness. I will try and pinpoint some of the key issues involved with self-mutilation, to encourage understanding.

"Self abuse is anti-social, aggression still natural."
Today we live in a society obsessed with appearances. It is natural and understandable for someone to always pursue ‘the perfect image’, and to be vain, but we are ultimately more disturbed by someone who does not appreciate the way they look, someone who is repelled by their own image and wishes for nothing but to change.
"Self disgust is self obsession honey, and I do as I please."
If we carefully consider our own views to a further extent, we will notice that we generally approve of body piercing, tattooing, and the like, and yet are disgusted at the thought of someone scarring themselves.
In this way, the subject is more complicated than we might first conceive of, and as with any social or psychological issue there is no right answer and no right way to behave.

Many psychologists try to explain the incontestably intriguing question as to WHY people harm themselves. The answers vary but they commonly mention personal influences, family, friends, state of mind and the way we think. There is another issue however, and this is how self-mutilation is viewed by members of our society. As other disorders such as depression and anorexia have in the past become more understood, we need to increase awareness of self-mutilation so that sufferers are not disgraced even further and driven more deeply into their neurotic compulsions. In this way self harm is in no way merely a psychological issue, but is also a sociological issue.

There are many medical and cognitive explanations for all the different categorised types of self harm, which can range from burning or cutting the skin, to deep depressions, or paranoia where the person seems to make life extremely difficult for themselves. Also anorexia nervosa, body dysmorphic disorder and bulimia nervosa, are 3 other examples. Although the issues within the incidence of self harm is highly varied, it is widely viewed as part of a psychological disorder, or more basically, that there is something wrong with a person. Something is biologically defective and this manifests itself in various types of self harming behaviour(s).

But what if there were nothing wrong with a person, nothing defective or abnormal and this was simply a way of dealing with life's difficulties. Self harm is clearly not an ideal way of behaving. It touches the same concept however as those who abuse alcohol or drugs, or those who engage in too much sex, or those who binge & purge; it simply becomes a way of surviving everyday anxieties. Everybody has their own ways of surviving, and generally alcoholism and the like are disapproved of, but accepted. We seem to be living in a society that can accept many faults, such as violence towards others, prejudice and unequal opportunities but cannot accept a person who privately harms themselves as a way of coping. One way it seems to make sense is through this quote by an author, Levenkron: "It's like the old movies where someone was hysterical, someone slapped them and they sighed thank you. We all understand the physical can mediate the emotional."
Christina Ricci explains the way in which pain makes you feel better:

"It's like having a drink. But it's quicker. You know how your brain shuts down from pain? The pain would be so bad, it would force my body to slow down, and I wouldn't be as anxious. It made me calm."

For more people in the public arena who self injure, see People who self-injure.

"Self-injury is a sign of distress, not madness. We should be congratulated on having found a way of surviving." -Cory Anderson

In most cases the cutter has found on the edge of a knife a coping mechanism that helps get them through life. We cannot simply take that away from them without helping them replace that with something else that really works. They now need to unlearn what they've learned is the only thing that works for them. And this is a long process for most people. So patience will be very important.

Of course, there are also silly attention seekers and masochists, but they do not really fit into this category. A tiny portion of this information was derived from Time magazine. The rest is from tireless curious research and being an informed patient.
June 5th, 2002
Dearest *,
So, an explanation is in order here. Three thousand, four hundred and thirty-eight pages later, I’d feel I wasn’t giving you what you deserved if I didn’t give you, at the very least, an explanation. I feel like I owe it to us.

Yes, your name is carved on my thigh. ‘Was’ I suppose would be a more appropriate verb; it’s fading fast – like you. Yes, I did it of my own free will. Yes, I was aware of what I was doing.

You misunderstand the circumstances. I was sitting outside then, waiting. I was thinking of the next day to come, of my forays into the unsupervised, and of my lack of certainty of events. I was thinking of the current day, and the soon to occur activities. As much fun as tongues intertwining might be, when it’s no more meaningful than a way to pass the time, it doesn’t mean that much to me. As a method of prophylactics, I decided to brand myself as yours. I’ve given up on the reality, or even the dream or hope of that, long ago – months, even. It was a political statement of “hands off, emotionless hookup” as much as anything else.

As time went on that afternoon, the hand moved up down and around, but never to the thigh. My horribly twisted joke had failed. But I didn’t worry, no, there was always tomorrow. Upon returning home I looked and was put off by how quickly a few impressions of a safety pin can fade away, so I made it look more presentable. It didn’t seem as worth it when I was done – I took a picture to remind myself of the sheer stupidity and found a bandage. This wasn’t to be as funny as I’d hoped.

The next day comes, and sure enough, had it not been covered by a band-aid my plan would have worked; it would have at the very least caused pause to my unsuspecting suitor. I could have had a nice laugh at his expense – something my bitter little heart can use when I’m trying to avoid becoming attached to the bearer of another immanent rejection (what would be my third this year). I had marred my canvas not from pain or hate or obsessive love for you, it had nothing to do with you really, I branded from some cinematographic beauty I saw in the scene from a distance.

Pan in from corner.
Innocent young girl being devirginized by resident high school doormat appreciator. As man approaches ‘the goods’, he finds himself becoming increasingly aroused until – hark! What’s this? His best friends name on the girl’s leg – a sure guarantee to take some of the fun out of what he was planning on doing.
Zoom in on the name. Cut to Guy’s facial expression. Cut to zoom on in Girl’s eyes.
Fade out.

You were being used there as a tool to help me get what I wanted. If you criticize me for anything, criticize that. You’ve done the same yourself, claiming me some psycho who was stalking you so you could avoid having to explain why we could share secret hidden laughter over spilt blood. I understand I’ve been hard for you recently. I’m not the most emotionally stable person you’ve ever had cause to socialize with, and my over dramatization and emotional exaggeration can be downright frustrating at times. Even so, you kept showing up. When you’d ask me how I was feeling I wasn’t going to give you the G-rated watered down version; I knew you could take the truth. When once I offered to you escape from the truths I held, you said (direct quote) “Of course not. I'd silently murder you if I figured out you were sheltering me.” So I’d been telling you when I was upset, and you’d been helping to fix it. When it became too much for you and you retreated into your defensively bitter mode, I accepted it. I understood that sometimes people need a break, and so I tuned you out a bit accordingly once I understood.

Nevertheless, after Friday, the warning from April 22nd and the promise of a silent murder mingled and mixed until I made the decision. I figured hopefully you’d be able to understand and laugh along upon finding out; it’s the kind of dark twisted humor you’d appreciate. I hadn’t realized the ultimatum might come into play before I got a chance to explain myself. Then, of course, you ask for help the one fool I was expending so much energy ruining – of course he’d think you were doing the right thing by breaking the links.

So here I am stuck between never and a misunderstanding. If you were acting on the principles I think I saw you toying with, there’s no reason for a never. On the other hand, if I’ve been tiring you and wearing away at your newfound spiritual growth, than we can continue on our break. I only request that you take down the veil of illusion that places this decision on my head. We’re friends, you and I. (Ahh, “we’re.” So ambiguous, am I speaking presently or in passing?) Friendship of three thousand, four hundred and thirty-eight pages and countless hours isn’t as easily forgotten as the newest passing fad. I hope you can one day bring it in yourself to forgive me, or at least to listen to what I have to say here.

Never is a long time. If you want a trial separation, we can arrange that. We can stop talking for a month or two or three or nine, but I’d like it to be a decidedly finite period of time. Nothing but loss and pain comes from a never; forever silent keeps nobody happy. I honestly believe were we to sit down in person one day and have a little chat about things, we might be able to sort out some of the inherent misunderstandings I’ve found in our day to day interaction. We might be able to learn to recognize each other’s jokes, maybe even laugh at a few of them. Of course, this plea is sounded to deaf ears. I’ve found myself going through the stages of grief, but they’re interrupted each day yet; it can be hard to get over a death (even a metaphorical one) when you’re forever haunted by ghosts.

I can only pray (on my hand strung rosary no less) that one day never will be shortened and I get my life sentence changed to a parole for good behavior; until then I’ll keep appealing to an empty juror’s box.

Sometimes cutting yourself is about making a point, not about the pain. Sometimes it's viewing your body as art. That's not always a smart thing though.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.