4 Years Cut Free (Self-Harm)
Before you guys start reading, I just want to say this post is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written mainly because this is so personal to me and I feel like people may judge me for this as it can be controversial. I also noticed that I don’t rarely talk about this topic a lot because of the same reason and there may be some of you who don’t know this but I have mentioned it before in my previous posts. However, because this is important to me, I want to raise awareness about it and as well want to celebrate an achievement.
I’m also going to put a trigger warning as this can be triggering for people who may not understand it and anyone who does/used to do it. There will also be warning triggers in certain paragraphs of this post as some of them contain graphic details. The main content I’m talking about is self-harm (cutting, stabbing, hitting) but it also contains depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, bullying, past suicide attempts. If you are easily triggered, please do not read, otherwise, read with caution. If you are feeling unsafe at any time, please reach out for help as the last thing I want to do is triggering people.
As most of you guys know, my life has always been a difficult one but there may be some of you who still don’t know a lot about me. Background story for those who don’t know, I have depression and an anxiety disorder and if you want to hear more of my story, please check out The Dark Truth.
Living with a mental illness can be hard but how do I cope with it? Well, I self-harm or in other words, I deliberately hurt myself when I’m in emotional pain. There I said it. I know this is hard hearing someone you know hurting themselves, it’s a very uncomfortable feeling. I also like to apologise to anyone if I upset them with my self-harm, believe me, it’s not easy.
I have been a self-harmer since at a very young age. I don’t really remember how it all started and to be honest, I thought I did but now after talking to some people, I think it started when I got bullied in primary school and I started hurting myself by stabbing myself with small pins, hitting myself like slapping in the face and even trying to break my bones. At that time, no one knew I was self-harming.
So why would anyone hurt themselves on purpose? It may be hard to understand for those who probably never heard of it or never done it themselves. For me, I do it for lots of reasons like the physical pain distracts me from the emotional pain, whenever I feel numb I need to hurt myself to feel alive and I also punish myself if I did something wrong.
Does self-harm hurt? Yes of course, physically it does but it also releases the intense feelings from the emotional pain. How does this work? Every time you feel pain “endorphins” will be released and these “endorphins” are like good hormones that your body naturally released whenever you hurt yourself and will give you a sense of relief. It’s kinda like taking drugs or smoking and that’s why it can be very addicting.
The main thing I want to talk about is my cutting because today is a big milestone for me. Today, I am finally 4 years cut free. So what that means I haven’t cut myself for 4 years and it’s the longest time I haven’t done it as well. It hasn’t been easy at all to get to where I am today.
Cutting is one of the most common methods of self-harm and it’s when you cut yourself with a sharp blade and it breaks the skin enough and it bleeds. I’m not good at explaining things so I apologise for that. Now I know that some believe it’s mostly girls who cut themselves but guys do it as well and I’m a guy. I’m also not ashamed to say it out loud.
I first started cutting myself when I was in Year 7 so I was about twelve years old. Home life was tough and school life was even tougher. At that time, I was struggling with my depression that no one knew about and I started a new high school at the beginning of the year because I just graduated from primary school in Year 6. I hated school and never liked it. I got bullied by two groups that came from the same primary school I went to, I was falling behind with my school work and there was a lot of fighting at home mainly because of me. People thought I was being moody or I wasn’t even trying hard enough which wasn’t true.
It wasn’t until one day I felt so down that I wanted to hurt myself badly so I came home and try to find something to hurt myself with and that’s when I saw a pencil sharpener. I ran up to my room and I tried to break the plastic which I had difficulty with but was able to do it eventually. I had the blade in my hand and I was afraid to do it because I haven’t done it before but I just did it anyway. The first time it was very painful but then the pain went away and had a relief from it. It was just one cut and then it started to bleed. I started to do it more and more until I couldn’t stand the pain and stopped. I then had a sense of relief afterwards and all those emotions I had inside in me was gone…temporarily that is.
I was surprised that I felt so much better after cutting myself and I started doing this every day and it just became a pattern. I don’t remember how I found out about cutting but it’s probably from reading a magazine or something. No one knew what was going on because I didn’t want anyone to know and wanted to keep a secret from them.
As the months go by, one day, someone noticed my cuts on my wrists and asked me what happened. I lied to them that a cat came into my house and scratch me while I was trying to get him out of my house and for some reason, they believed me and I was surprised because it didn’t look like a cat scratch. I started to become more careful in hiding my cuts from people as I didn’t want them to ask me about it.
When winter came, it was easy to hide because you’re wearing long sleeves but when it came to spring and summer, it was hard as it was getting hotter and hotter. I don’t remember how I was able to hide my scars during the hot months but I remember using my watch to hide it though, it wasn’t ideal because I was sweating and it became itchy to scratch. People started to become more suspicious of me wearing long sleeves all the time and question me, my answer to them that I was feeling cold…like yeah right! I had all these cuts on my arms and it was hard hiding them all.
Also, at this time I was talking to a free counselling service in Australia called Kids Helpline and they were the first people to know about my cutting which was pretty scary to admit because I’ve never talked to anyone about it. My first KHL counsellor, she was one of the best counsellors I’ve had because she was very supportive of me and very patient. She didn’t judge me at all and she was probably the one who encouraged me to get help.
So one day, I told my homeroom teacher about my cutting and showed her my cuts and she was very concerned so straight away, she took me to the school counsellor’s office. After having a small talk with the counsellor, she rang my parents to get me because obviously, the school have a duty of care since I was thirteen at that time and it was hard telling my parents about my self-harm. They were shocked too because I don’t think they knew anything about my self-harm and they just didn’t know how to react.
Anyway, the school counsellor suggested going to see a psychiatrist so we did that and after a few first meetings with him, he said that if I didn’t stop cutting, I’d have to be admitted into hospital but that didn’t really stop from cutting. At home, my parents tried to hide anything I would cut myself with like pencil sharpeners, a kitchen knife, razor blades and even scissors. They also even checked my arms for any cuts and that time I felt very invasive but now looking back, it’s only because they care for me. I have to admit we didn’t get along at the best of times even if I was a goodie goodie but I was going through my teenage years, the hardest years of all.
So I did ended up get medical treatment for my self-harm but then there were a lot of changes in my support network at the same time because I kept seeing different psychiatrist and psychologists. Reasons being my first psychiatrist moved to another hospital, the second one retired, the third one I didn’t get along with him at all and it was a similar story to my psychologists I saw. It was difficult because I wasn’t able to talk to anyone except for my local GP and KHL.
After changing schools again I started to hurt myself less because I had nothing to hurt myself with and wasn’t allowed. That’s because I went to a boarding school and this isn’t your typical school as it’s for adolescents with mental illness and they are quite strict. I boarded during the week and every time you board at the beginning of the week, the nurses would go through your personal belongings to check if they are any items that you can hurt yourself with and this was for safety measure and security.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t really enjoy the school at first because it was a very eventful one for my experience but I actually might talk about this in a separate post just because it’s quite a long story.
Fast forward to my last high school I went to, one day I was struggling and cut myself in the toilets and someone found out about it and told one of the teachers. Let’s just say the school wasn’t impressed with me and gave me a warning. Apparently, I was a risk to the other students because I had a “weapon” with me and I totally got that and lesson learnt. By the way, this was a one-off so kids, please don’t do what I did because it was quite serious but at least the school was understanding as they knew about my history of my depression and I should have reached out for help instead of hurting myself that day.
There were a few times I had to be admitted for my cutting because I started to carve words into my body such as IHL (I Hate Life), DIE, Loser, Stupid, Fat and even one of my significant other’s name. I also carved shapes as well and I don’t know how it all started.
It got to one point where one day I had enough as I was going through a break up with a serious significant other (I know, stupid reason over a girl), failing school, kept fighting with family and friends and also my grandma was in hospital for heart failure. I decided to try to kill myself by cutting my wrists quite deeply and I was bleeding a lot coz the blood was going everywhere. You could even see the styro and the fat. One of my family members walked in on me when I was doing and had to get help because it was pretty serious. I was also supposed to start school the next day but didn’t even go as I was such a mess.
My dad took me to go to my GP and he referred me to a children’s hospital because he was concerned about my safety. We went home to get my stuff and we drove straight to the hospital. It was a very familiar place for me as I was there for my first suicide attempt and had an allergic reaction to one of my medications.
My dad and I waited for quite a few hours to see someone (I forgot how long we waited for but it was long) and finally, an ED doctor saw me. She just asked questions like why I was there and what was going on with my situation and I pretty much told her the truth and that’s basically everything of my life which is the first time telling someone. I also even told her and no one knows about this until now, there was one night that I was very suicidal and I held a razor blade to my throat but fortunately, I didn’t go with my attempt.
After talking until 2am, she felt that I need to stay in hospital so I was admitted into an isolation ward because I was risked to other patient’s safety as they didn’t want me to influence with my suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Basically, I had different nurses watching me in another room 24/7 in case I try to hurt myself or even try to kill myself. It was a big room as there was a bedroom, bathroom and a huge lounge area with a TV and Xbox.
Because of my situation, I had different doctors and psychologists seeing me and I don’t even remember how many came to see me. One of the psychiatrists that came to see me was my first psychiatrist which was a surprise. My GP also came to see me as well to check how I was doing but I don’t remember much of our conversations but it was good to see a few familiar faces. I only stayed there for five days it was a safe environment for me because I couldn’t hurt myself. I also missed two weeks of school because of my hospital admission and I even missed the Year 10 Ski Camp.
I have to admit, it’s tough telling you guys all these because I never talked about it on my blog in full detail until now and that’s scary. Maybe it’s because I had a bad experience telling people a very long time ago and they judged me for this and stopped being friends with me.
The second longest time I haven’t hurt myself was actually since my last suicide attempt on 22nd July 2008. I was at the lowest of the lowest point in my life a decade ago and for my longtime readers, you guys already know how hard that time was because I almost died. At that time, I was getting medical treatment and started going to day programs at several private psychiatrist hospitals. One of the programs I did that helped me stopped my self-harm was the DBT (aka Dialectical behaviour therapy).
Before I even started the DBT and this was also before my suicide attempt, I didn’t want to be in the program because I wasn’t ready to give up my self-harm but after surviving my suicide attempt, I realised that I needed help and I couldn’t live like this anymore.
I never told you guys this but I was also diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder (that has been treated) because I was in a very unstable mood, had a fear of abandonment. unstable relationships with other people, my self-harm was getting out of control and I was doing impulsive and risky behaviours. This was all because of the traumatic things I went through like the bullying.
I finally started the program later that year and it was very hard at first because they had strict rules like attending the group every week (unless you’re sick or something) and not able to hurt yourself while doing the program but after those first few months, you get used to it. The things we learnt got me to change my thinking and behaviour and for some reason, it actually worked. I might also blog about the different therapies I’ve gone through mainly because it’s a lot to talk about and I don’t want this post to get too long.
After a year of intense therapy, I was able to graduate from the program and I didn’t hurt myself all that time even there were times where I wanted to. I felt like I was a completely different person and I’m surprised that the therapy had a beneficial change on me.
In 2011, I had a relapse with my self-harm because I was involved in a minor car accident but I won’t go into detail about the accident. Tho, I will say it was a very frightening one and traumatic experience and I didn’t cope with it. After all the dramas with the car accident, I went back home and started cutting myself again. It was a big relief because it took my emotions away but I was devastated that I went back to my old ways and felt like I failed because I didn’t cut for 3 years, 1 months and 11 days (second longest time). I was going so good without having to cut myself for that long.
I was really struggling and had to talk to someone (which I don’t usually do) and that someone was one of my close schoolmates (which I won’t name for privacy reasons). After reaching out to her for support, she made me realised that and I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her.
“A relapse is just another step along the road and it doesn’t make you a failure or weak, it just makes you a stronger human.”
Her words had a big impact on me and I believe her. Just letting you guys know I have a fear of failing and that’s why whenever I fail, I’m just so damn hard on myself but I’m a stronger human. I’m very grateful for my close school friend because she’s been there for me when I needed someone and she was one of the few who knew about the secrets I was hiding from the world. She also inspires me a lot and like me, she’s been through a lot of crap in her life and she doesn’t deserve that. A shout out to my friend, thank you for everything and I really hope you can better on the road to recovery! I admire your strength and believe in you!
It took me a long time to get over a car accident but I was still very traumatised from because whenever I drive, I was afraid I was gonna hit a car again. There were some days where I got my parents to drive me as I refused to drive. I even took the public transport instead which I absolutely dislike because of my social anxiety and being with other strangers.
My cutting was on and off as there was a period of times where I was able to stop hurting myself but then whenever I was struggling, I relapse and cut myself again. My parents suggested doing drama therapies and that helped me a lot because I was able to express myself through acting. I was also doing guitar lessons as well and it helped me to play my emotions out. At that time, I was studying my Multimedia course at TAFE and it was one of the best courses that I did (besides the retail baking course I’m doing now.)
After completing my Multimedia course at TAFE, there were a few struggles I was going through like changing support networks, getting fired from my first job (I won’t say why as it wasn’t my fault) not having a job even though I have been getting work experiences which weren’t enough and also in 2013 found out my second dog, Charlotte had cancer and had to put her down later that year. I also went on a study trip to Guangzhou in China with a group of other students and it was quite difficult because it was my first time on my own without my family and friends and I was still getting over Charlotte’s death. With all the changes, I kept cutting myself because that’s how I was able to cope even tho I learnt the skills in therapy, I didn’t use them.
The last time I cut myself was on 2nd June 2014 and that was before one of my hospital admissions. During that year, I found out I was almost at the age limit (age 25) where I couldn’t talk to Kids Helpline and that devastated me because KHL was a big support of my life. They were there for me when I needed to talk to someone and because I wasn’t seeing a psychologist at that time, they were my main support besides my psychiatrist. So my psychiatrist referred me to go to a day support group again (a group I attended before) and ever since then, I’ve never looked back.
Now these days, I don’t cut myself anymore and feel like I don’t need to. It was a big part of my old life. Today, I want to celebrate my life by finally be ready to move on from my cutting. This is bringing me mixed emotions as I’m gonna it miss it heaps because it helped me get through a lot of struggles especially during the high school years even tho it was damaging to me at the same time. I still have deep scars on my body even from the first day I started cutting sixteen years ago and I am not ashamed of them.
Though there have been a few times where people asked me about my scars and were a bit shocked by them. It can be very confronting for them but I don’t want to lie to them which is why I tell them the truth about my cutting. I feel like this scars represent who you are as a person like you are a warrior that has been through so many battles and you get hurt by all the pain but you survived and the scars show your story. I’ll never gonna get rid of my scars because it’s who I am.
I still do get urges to cut myself whenever I struggle or even when I don’t struggle. There have been a few times where I have been happy and nothing is wrong and I just want to cut myself. I also don’t self-harm (through other ways) as much but only when I’m feeling really distressed or struggling with my depression but the last six months I’ve been in a really good place at the moment.
For those people who self-harm, I’m not gonna tell you to stop because that doesn’t work. I’ve been there so I know what’s it like and just letting you guys know, I am no way a pro-self-harm and there is no way I would encourage it. In fact, I recommend not to start it at all if you haven’t self-harmed before because it can be damaging and very addicting and can leave you permanent scars. It will hurt not only you but also your loved ones and you don’t want to go on that path, believe me.
What I will say is if it does help, then do it in a safe way please by having a first aid kit near you and if you do hurt your self badly, please reach out for help immediately by letting someone you know you can trust or go to the nearest ED department or even calling your local emergency number if your life is in danger.
Also. if you hurt yourself less and less and maybe quit it eventually (when you’re ready), it would be worth it in the long run like look at me, I haven’t cut myself for four years and that is a massive achievement for me.
For those who know anyone that does self-harm, be there for them and don’t judge for who there are. Don’t tell them to get over it or snap out of it because it doesn’t work that way and might make it worse. Self-harm isn’t the problem, it’s a coping mechanism. If you find what triggers people hurting themselves then you’ll find the cause of the problem. Also, when someone is not ready to quit, don’t pressure them but maybe tell them in an assertive way that you are concerned about them and be there for them. Another one, look after yourself because it can be quite tiring looking after someone.
There are also other ways people can cope without relying on self-harm like exercise, talking to your support network, distraction, being with people mindfulness or going to different support groups. Even writing a pros and cons of self-harm could help.
Before this post gets too long and I’m sorry the end was a bit rushed as I was running out of time, I will probably blog more about the self-harm in the future as today I just wanted to talk about my achievement with my cutting but I also wanted to give a brief information about self-harm through my experience.
Thank you guys again for reading this and like I said this wasn’t easy to write because some of the content I have written, not many people knows about it and this is the first telling my dark secrets to the world. I was at one point a bit hesitant to share with you guys because I’m a bit nervous about how people will respond to this as I know self-harm is one of those taboo topics to talk about. It’s pretty deep stuff but thank you guys for the support like always and hope you got something out of this
Be random but stay safe! ^_^