A lot of people, mostly younger, but not so young in all cases, self-injure. The image of a teen age girl cutting on her arm is ingrained into culture. But the person self-harming is not always a girl, not always young. Boys and men also self-harm, not as often, but it’s still very common. Cutting is not always the method of choice, nor is the arm always the preferred place when cutting is done. Self-harm is often a private thing, done in secret and hidden from the world, as few visible signs as possible. It was very private for me. It was from my teenage years through my mid 30s.
Some people cut or self-harm to see that they are alive. They feel empty or dead inside, they need to see that they are alive. They need to see the blood. The pain is inconsequential. I didn’t feel dead inside. Quite the opposite, I felt overwhelmed with feelings. Depression, anxiety, shame, anger. I needed to feel that I had some control, do something that would overpower these feelings. I couldn’t make them go away, but I could temporarily replace them with something I could control. The pain was the thing, the more the better. The blood was irrelevant. In fact, most of the self-harm I engaged in did not involve bleeding.
Often as people age, they develop better coping skills. These replace self-harm gradually as one ages. I learned some of these coping skills on my own, by trial-and-error, some from an employee assistance director at my place of employment who was s skilled counselor.
Today I can say that I haven’t deliberately hurt myself in well over 15 years. I hope that everyone can say this at some point in their lives.
Have you ever self-harmed? What was the goal of this behavior? Let us know in the comments!