Written by Taylor Jones.
I never used to think of myself as a cutter; I used to take kitchen knives and drag them along my skin, fantasizing about what it would feel like. Sometimes when I would be upset I would simply press the knife against the knife against my skin, not in a slicing action, but just adding more pressure until (sometimes) beads of blood would appear. But I never used to think of myself as a cutter, because the typical cutter had it a lot worse off than me. I only did this to relieve pressure. Sometimes, I felt like my body was going to implode on itself. Dragging the knife, making a small, superficial cat scratch, or making myself bleed slightly would alleviate the pressure, like letting air out of a balloon that was about to pop. I was afraid to tell anyone about this; I wasn’t doing this to seek attention, and I wasn’t doing this to end my life (there were ways I was attempting suicide, but this was not one). This was something that I was doing to manage the internal pain that I was feeling.
I thought I had my “cutting” under control; that was until one day.
I thought I had my “cutting” under control; that was until one day, I wasn’t able to release the pressure, and I popped. I was in the middle of a massive fight, and I lost all control that I had prided myself on for years. I took a knife, and dragged it across my skin, to alleviate the pressure. I didn’t think anything of it, until the next morning, when I tried to take my pants off. My pajamas were stuck to my leg, because my leg had started to heal itself attached to my pajama pants. I had actually cut deep, and I didn’t stop bleeding for a few days. I kept it under wraps (literally and figuratively) and didn’t tell a soul. I was mortified. It was the only time my little, secret habit had become life threatening and it was the first time I had opened my eyes to the truth; I was a cutter.
I didn’t know how else to relieve all the stress and anger building up inside of me.
I wish that was the last time I cut. However, instead of quitting cold turkey, I just tried to become more aware, relapsing and cutting too deep only two other times, on my ribs (nothing ever, quite as bad as my leg). The leg incident was four years ago, my last suicide attempt was three years ago, however the last time I “relieved my urges” was really only eight months ago. I didn’t know how to stop for a long time. I wasn’t making myself bleed, but I didn’t know how else to relieve all the stress and anger building up inside of me.
So, I went to the local tattoo studio near me, and covered up my favorite “cutting grounds” with a reminder of why I shouldn’t cut myself; a gigantic heart, reminding me to love myself. Although I’m still trying to remember to love myself, it has curbed me from harming myself every time I grab a knife and think I want to self harm.
Replacing cutting with healthy coping mechanisms wasn’t easy.
There are hundreds of reasons to self harm; self hatred, pressure/stress, fear, triggers. The list goes on and on. It’s not attention seeking, and although it may be a cry for help, it’s more personal than people may think. It’s a way people cope to deal with things happening in their lives. However, it is not a healthy way to cope. I’m proud of being clean (and have found journaling has helped me with my urges). I’m proud of my days clean, and I never want to look back on those darker days. Replacing cutting with healthy coping mechanisms wasn’t easy; but I knew I was cheating myself by harming myself. It may have been difficult to give up, I don’t miss cutting anymore.