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by | Sep 24, 2003 | Self Harm

TRIGGER WARNING: The following may have triggering material and may not be suitable for some readers. Please proceed with caution if you feel like hurting yourself at ANY point while reading this, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. You can just click on this link Home or Safe Haven (Support Groups).

Sometimes, have you noticed, how this world seems to throw thing at us, and then more things and then more until we feel we can’t deal with anymore and the only way out seems to be self harm?

I know what it’s like to lie awake at night, staring at the ceiling and feeling as though every bad thing that had ever been said about me was true. I know what it’s like to look at a razor or a knife and feel as though if I could make the outside of my body look as bad as the inside felt, then the pain inside, wouldn’t be so horrific. And those of you who cut yourselves, or harm yourselves in other ways, know that cutting *does* bring some relief. But, if you’ll notice, the relief that harming ourselves gives us, is only temporary. It’s not permanent relief and it’s permanent relief that we deserve, not relief that’s only fleeting. Besides, if cutting really was the ‘cure’, if it was really the way out of the pain, then way doesn’t it make us feel proud of ourselves? Why are we unhappy with the decision to cut? Why does cutting bring tears and not a smile? If cutting were really the way out, was really the answer, I’d think we’d be proud of ourselves for being ingenious enough to learn to cut. But it doesn’t, because deep down inside of us, we don’t really *want* to harm the bodies that we have been given, and cutting ourselves is only a last resort because we don’t know that there are other ways to feel better, to get out of the pain.

We don’t know that, but there *are* other ways, namely conversation. Telling others about how we feel and why we cut is probably the most difficult and the bravest thing we can do. For many, it’s the very firs thing they’ve ever done for themselves.

In addition to telling others how we feel, even if we have to write it to them in a letter, we all have a unique and special talent that we can resort to whenever we feel the need to cut. My talent is writing, so whenever I feel the need to cut, I pull out a pen instead and start writing. It helps take my mind away from the bad things that are going on in my life.

But above all else, it’s essential that we all remember how precious our lives are. Your life is rare and it’s like a tiny gem; it’s value is immeasurable and you have a unique purpose for your life that you alone can accomplish and if you help yourself out of the depression, out of the pain, then you’ll be able to concentrate on discovering and accomplishing your life’s goal. God made you. He does not make mistakes, ever. That means that you’re not one either, and never have you been one, regardless of what anyone has led you to believe.

I hope one day everyone who cuts will be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I deserve more than pain and I’m strong enough to ask for help” because even if sometimes it takes a little time, if you ask for help, you *will* receive it. Life is too precious, and comes around only once, for us to never experience all the joy it has to offer.

Added information by Adam Marshall

(Some, none or all of this material came from webpages online listed at the bottom under Related Sites)

Self Injury has been called many different things over the years. I think it can become an addiction, but like all addictions, you still have a choice. Every time you pick up that blade…it is a choice you make to use it or not use it.

Self Injury – A Definition:

Self-inflicted physical harm severe enough to cause tissue damage or marks that last for several hours, done without suicidal intent or intent to attain sexual pleasure.


  • SI is more about relieving tension or distress than is it about anything else.
  • Although cutting is the most common form of SI, burning and head-banging are also very common. Other forms include biting, skin-picking, hair-pulling, hitting the body with objects or hitting objects with the body, etc.
  • For anyone that has every done some form of SI, they learn quickly that it is habit forming. From the first instant that SI invades your world, you get hooked on the quick release or exhilaration harming yourself gets you.
  • To the outsider this may seem morbid or sick, but to those that have experience it, there is nothing like seeing your own blood dripping off your arm or leg and knowing you control it. Some are addicted to the blood, some the scars and some the pain.
  • Once the first SI has occurred, the next time you’re feeling down or angry, your thoughts will immediately turn to SI. And if you give in to the urge, which many do, it will consume you and become increasingly dangerous.

Facts About SI:

  • Fact: SI only brings temporary relief. The pain will stop when you confront the pain masked by SI.
  • Fact: Getting help is not a weakness, but a strength. It signals that you realize your human and you can make mistakes. You are allowed to lean on others every once in a while.
  • Fact: Not all doctors/nurses/people in general will know how to react to someone who has been injuring themselves. Be cautious of others feelings as well as your own. Use good judgment when revealing your secret to those not close to you. Help people understand why you are doing SI and that you are not different but someone who just needs help.
  • Fact: The physical and emotional scars may never disappear, but never close yourself off… the world needs you and one day you may make a difference in others lives. Make the scars serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come.
  • Fact: Your friends and family are there to support you… let them help, they need to feel needed to.
  • Fact: If you do not feel comfortable with family/friends, there are others who can help you- seek them out.
  • Fact: For those that think you are controlling self injury, that you are in control…you’ve got to throw that belief out the window. When an urge comes and you are unable to suppress it or say to yourself that you won’t cut…it has controlled you.
  • Fact: Self Injury is a choice we make. As hard as that may be to hear, it is the truth. We all make the choice that first time we are hurting and cut, burn etc. And each subsequent time, it is our choice.

Why People Self-Injure?

  • Lack of role models and invalidation – Mostly neglected as children, be it emotional, physical, sexual abuse etc. Also they’ve never learned how to express emotions and may have learned the emotions are bad or associated with something bad.
  • Biology: Yup even biology can play a part. That lovely serotonin that likes to raise hell can be partly at fault and cause impulsiveness etc.
  • Phsycologically, the act of self harm gives the person tension relief just about immediately. Thus those that have unbearable, uncomfortable emotions and don’t know how to handle it, they find out cutting can alleviate the pain; that it causes calmness in chaos.

Who Self Injures?

  • Self Injurers come from every where in life. From male, female, straight, gay, bi, rich, poor, doctors, dropouts, teachers, therapists, lawyers, disability. Basically anyone could pretty much be a self injurer.
  • Age range is vast also. Many times the abusive behavior is hidden and not known till a later age.
  • Self injurers are no different than those that pick up a bottle of alcohol. Like alcohol and drugs, it’s a coping mechanism. That doesn’t mean you’ll understand/accept it, but it is still a coping mechanism that is becoming more prominent.

Breaking The Habit:

  1. First and foremost you must make the commitment to stop. Without it you will fail.
  2. Once you have made the commitment to stop, you must have the proper support group because you will have to turn to them, and often times, frequently.
  3. Next you have to find alternatives, be it sleeping, watch TV or read a book. I don’t care what it is as long as its not cutting. Also, don’t sit there and think about cutting. If you must think about it, set aside a time to think about it and no other time. If you find yourself thinking about it before the allotted time, tell yourself that there is a time for it and move on.
  4. Put things in perspective. One mistake will not make the rest of your life hell. Also, where does cutting get you, except further and further addicted and more scars and only TEMPORARY relief. The problem does not lie with cutting, but what the cutting masks.

Now once all of this is done, the real work begins. The first several weeks after you stop may not be too difficult, but as some have found out, once they hit the one month mark, the urges increase in frequency and intensity. This may vary person to person though. However, once you hit that mark, you must be prepared to do anything to stop. For some this includes, giving all razors to best friends and telling them not to give them to you, and when girls shave their legs, to have their best friends check her afterward. This stops people from having an easy way to cut. You also have to be prepared to bring in your alternatives. Also keep reminding yourself that this will pass and that you are better off without self injuring yourself.

Hopefully this has given you insight into how you might beat the addiction, however there is more that needs to be done. You must confront the pain behind the cutting. Some find that once you confront the reason behind the pain, the urges decrease intensity. Also, you may start to experience emotions again. When hit happens, this is a very weird feeling for some. Bringing physical pain to yourself to mask emotional pain brings far greater harm than facing your secrets ever could.

This checklist by Dr. Tracy Alderman, author of “The Scarred Soul: Understanding and Ending Self Inflicted Violence.”

It isn’t necessary that you be able to answer all of the questions “yes,” but the more of these things you can set up for yourself, a guideline. While it is not necessary that you meet all of these criteria before stopping SI, the more of these statements that are true for you before you decide to stop this behavior, the better.

I have a solid emotional support system of friends, family, and/ or professionals that I can use if I feel like hurting myself.
There are at least two people in my life that I can call if I want to hurt myself.
I feel at least somewhat comfortable talking about SI with three different people.
I have a list of at least ten things I can do instead of hurting myself.
I have a place to go if I need to leave my house so as not to hurt myself.
I feel confident that I could get rid of all the things that I might be likely to use to hurt myself.
I have told at least two other people that I am going to stop hurting myself.
I am willing to feel uncomfortable, scared, and frustrated.
I feel confident that I can endure thinking about hurting myself without having to actually do so.
I want to stop hurting myself.

Related Sites:

http://www.angelfire.com/bc3/secondchance/ (now http://www.oursecondchance.org/ – Erin P.) – Much of it came from here.

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