to feel anything again
I remember the first time I ever hurt myself on purpose. I was 15 and I used a broken CD to break the skin on my arm. It was no easy task, as halved CDs aren’t known for their sharpness, but it worked enough to take the pain away.
It seems awfully ironic that one would induce pain to ease pain, but it is what it is.
It was the only way I knew how to take the pain away.
Create pain to feel again.
My son has been going through the ups and downs of trying to find the perfect medication ratio for his needs. A few months ago we increased his medication because it wasn’t quite enough to even him out, but that turned into being too much, which created an odd state of euphoria and mania and apathy, and now we’re back where we started; waiting to try something new.
A phone call from the school nurse to inform me that he’s used his braces to break open the skin on his hand to ease his anxieties has me reliving all of my old pain. It’s as though I’ve finally begun to heal, but life is pulling the wound back open, promising to leave a scar. Again, I am left blaming my crappy DNA for inflicting this pain on my own kid. It took me five years to stop. And even now, in my 35-year-old brain, there are times when I have to tell myself that cutting isn’t the answer. I haven’t done it since I was 20, but man, it’s not an easy thing to stop or ‘get over.’
Cutting, to me, was a way to feel something. Anything. When I was sitting in my apartment alone and left with all of my thoughts, I felt as though everything had been siphoned out of me. I was left a hollowed out shell of a person with no clue as to where I was going or how I was going to get there.
I couldn’t control my best friend dying, I couldn’t control the subsequent trauma, I couldn’t control other peoples’ actions or reactions. I couldn’t control much, but I could control pain. I could control when and how I felt it.
So when the nurse called to tell me that he was able to break through his skin, my first reaction was, I completely understand how you feel.
But this isn’t ok. We need a better way.
Why don’t we talk openly about our mental health struggles? When my friends discovered I was struggling with self-harm, some held me at arm’s length as if it was contagious. No one knew how to handle me and few attempted to even try. In a time when I needed support, I was mostly left alone. Alone with my unkind thoughts.
I used to question why me? And maybe there’s no reason to the why. I’m not thankful for having been a cutter, but I am thankful to have survived it. I came out on the other side with a new vantage point and fresh eyes, and probably some PTSD. As I sit there and look at my beautiful boy full of hope and promise, yet with crippling sadness – I know that I have a unique perspective to offer. I can say, “Yes, I’ve been where you are, and I know how hard it is to overcome. But I am not going anywhere. I will not leave you alone.”
Through therapy, medication and not ignoring the problem, we will overcome. But in the here and now, this fucking sucks, not going to lie. One day at a time.