By Matt Hendry, Clinical Director at Discovery Academy – a Therapeutic Boarding School
As a clinician, for me cutting has never been about anything other than control. It is similar to eating disorders, only the expression is much more immediate in manner. Society seems to insist on a more caring and sensitive child. But there is a failure when it comes to teaching troubled teens how to deal with the emotions that well up from such sensitivity.
What do you do when you don’t know how to cope with an emotion? You try and control it. Drugs, sex, cutting, unhealthy eating, unhealthy exercise, the list goes on.
Just this week one of my students, who is a cutter, turned in an amazing assignment. I asked her if I could share it if I protected her identity. She’s allowing me to share her experience with you:
I’m not your average fifteen year old girl. The average teenager these days have recreation by going to the mall, going to amusement parks, hanging out with friends. The average teenager looks forward to summer so they can go on vacation; they look forward to playing their favorite sports and their birthdays.
I for one have fun being high on multiple drugs at a time; I have fun hanging out with the bottle then go joyriding drunk to my ex-boyfriend’s house so we can have sex. I look forward to going home and being able to cut myself. My life – my world revolves around this.
It’s like I live on my own routine where at any given time I can cut myself. Wake up, get high, drink, cut, go to school, go home, cut, drink, play with my dog, cut, go outside, cut, smoke cigarette, cut, get high, think, cut, go to bed, repeat. To some this is a very strange topic, to me it’s my life story. “What the hell happened to your arm?” “Why the hell do you do shit like that?” Oh, the questions people have; they just will never understand. But it’s worth a shot to help them.
I am numb. I constantly feel nothing, not debonair, no excitement, no bliss, nothing. It’s like I’m a black hole, just absorbing everything that comes my way, and then it’s just gone. Everyone wants to feel something. I’m no different. I want to feel something -No ~ I need to feel something. Whether it hurts me or not, I am just so prostrated of my constant need to feel. The only feeling I can inflict on myself is pain. I pick up my glistening brand new razor and glide it across my skin. I watch my body’s river flow down my arm and onto the floor.
Are you getting it at all? You know… do you get the reason why I… cut? I get so tired of not being able to feel that I cause as much pain on my body as possible, just for the sensation. Trust me, it’s thrilling. After not being able to feel anything at all, feeling pain is like a constant orgasm which you just want over, and over, and over again. Damn… cutting sounds like music to my ears right now.
I’m worthless. I will always be worthless. Everything that I do is worthless; everything that I ever will do will be equally worthless. I cause shame to everyone around me. I’m useless to everyone, therefore, I deserve pain. No one likes me, everyone hates me, and they’re all out without me having fun. They want me to hurt myself; they want to see me bleed. Their accusing eyes glare dlown at me and with every glance I know what they’re thinking. They think I’m the biggest mess known to man.
Deeper and deeper, the knife goes into my skin. Oh shit, I’ve cut down to my bone… perfect. I let myself bleed as much as possible just because I don’t deserve anything better than this. just sit there, arm covered in blood, sawing into my skin, making the gashes wide, and deeper than ever before. As I lurk in the corner of my room, half unconscious from the amount of blood loss, I idolize my marks; start to pick out the think, yellow fat that layers the inside of my wound. Once I’m done with doing that, the process is clone all over again. Words are getting carved into my arm, thighs and stomach.
I cut deep through my arms tendon nearly screaming from the bittersweet pain. A flood of blood rushes out of me, who knew that my petite body could produce so much gore? I love every single drop of blood that gushes out. Looking down now the floor where I’m sitting is now a damp, puddle of blood. I am in love with my pain. Why? Because it’s all I’ve ever known. How can you not be enamored with something that you’ve spent your whole life with? It’s oddly uncomfortable for me to actually be content. It’s just too much for my body and mind to handle. Once I get just a little away from being miserable its like my heart stops beating, I can’t breathe, I’m in the middle of the ocean on a little raft all by myself. I get so confused; I don’t know what to do. All I’m focused on doing is finding my way back to my land of misery, so I cut.
I don’t know why I feel this way; I guess I still need to figure that out. I just for some reason can’t be happy why pain is all I’ve ever known. I guess I’m so used to f*** everything up that once my life starts going good I get scared, because I know just screw it up, so to stop disappointment I intentionally hurt myself. I need to feel pain. I can’t be happy, because I am not worthy enough, and I can’t stand to face despondency when I’m already in the worst state of mind already.
“Just do it ____ we both know you deserve this. Do as I say you little whore! This is for mommy and daddy and everyone else out there in this broad world. Bleed… Bleed as rnuch as possible.” The voices… why won’t they just go away? I’m afraid I’m losing my mind. I hear audible voices in my head. Sometime it’s every second of the whole damn day. All the voices do is tell me to hurt myself, hurt others, and just do detrimental things. If I don’t they get louder and louder until I can’t take it; start punching my head, screaming at them to shut up but it’s no use because they just scream even louder.
I try surrounding myself with people who are nice to me and care about me; I do believe that I am cared for when they’re around. But it’s hard not to believe the voices in my head, too. Think about it. These voices have been with me since I was around ten years old. They’re constantly telling me knavish things about myself. If you have been with me since I was around 10 years old; these voices are constantly telling me bad things about myself. If you’ve been hearing bad things about yourself for 5 years nonstop, you’re bound to believe it. There’s just no escaping the thoughts.
I’m sorry if this wasn’t the clearest on telling you why I cut, it’s not the easiest to explain. I’ll try to sum it up. I constantly feel numb, so I make myself feel. I constantly feel like a worthless pile of shit stuck 10 miles down in a hole, so I cut myself for being worthless, useless to everyone because I think I deserve I am constantly hearing, being told to hurt myself; don’t then the words won’t stop, they won’t leave me alone. So I feel like I need to hurt myself.
Hopefully now you understand a little bit more of what goes on in my mind. I am not your average teenager. But I sure am not some crazy “emo” girl either. S0 don’t look at my arm like I’m psychotiç, please. You don’t know me.