Mental Health

Let’s Talk about Cutting

I want to cut my wrists. Don’t panic; it’s not a serious thing. I don’t want to kill myself, but sometimes, when I’m daydreaming, I like to think about cutting myself.

I’ve been doing it off and on in secret since eighth grade. Once I hit my upper twenties, I stopped caring if anyone noticed. Now, in my thirties, good friends know how things are going based on my Band-Aids.

Again, this isn’t a suicide thing. It’s not a “cry for help,” as Marla Singer might say. I don’t cut for attention. I don’t cut because I mean myself any harm. I cut because it feels good. Physical pain is better than emotional pain any day. But it very rarely comes to that anymore. Mostly, it’s just in my head. I fantasize about cutting because it calms me down.

Say I’m in a crowded room, and people are small talking around me and I’m just feeling … anxious. I zone out and picture a knife against my skin. Not cutting into my skin—just lingering above it, like a playful tickle. This is my meditation, my visualization, my Power Animal. This image calms me down. Always has.

women-huggingI considered getting a tattoo on my left wrist. That way, I wouldn’t cut my left wrist anymore because I wouldn’t want to ruin the ink. But then I thought, “How does ink do on scar tissue?” The tattoo is on hold.

I spoke to a group of troubled teens a couple months ago. I admitted to a room full of strangers (who possibly had more in common with me than most “adults”) that I’d been cutting for years. One of the girls asked, “How did you stop?”

Well, I didn’t want to tell her I hadn’t. Instead, I told her I channeled the yearning to cut into something else—my writing, for instance, or yoga.

But being a cutter is like being a smoker. You quit … but you never really quit.

I’m not writing this to freak out my mother or make you uncomfortable. I’m writing this to be honest. Although I haven’t been depressed in a while (yay medication!), when I am depressed, I often question God’s intentions: Why did You give me this stupid disease? Why did You do this to me? What kind of a loving god are You?

See, I get sad, then I get mad. Once I’ve calmed down, I usually realize I wouldn’t be “me” without the depression. I wouldn’t be as weird or funny or oddly charming. I wouldn’t be an artist. I also wouldn’t be able to speak to troubled teen girls or write blog posts like this that hopefully help other people—make them feel not so alone.

Recently, when I opened up about self-harm, I brought it up, nonchalantly, with a friend of mine who shocked me by saying, “Yeah, I’ve been trying so hard not to cut lately.” Who knew? Now, I do, and now, we talk about it.

We need to talk about this stuff. In college, I hid my mental health problems. No one would ever have thought, “Wow, Sara’s a real downer.” (Thank God for closed doors.)

The older I get, the more I have learned to embrace “me,” even the psycho side of me that wants to stay in bed, never eat again, and play with knives. If anyone needs a hug, it’s her!

So seriously, I’m not trying to freak you out. I just want you to know me, and maybe someday, we can help each other. Isn’t that why we’re here anyway?

17 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about Cutting

  1. You have no idea whose life you will change today by posting this. I’m so glad you are my friend because you are wonderfully, weirdly charming with a gorgeous spirit. xoxox

  2. Very refreshing Sara. The world tends to want to hear from people who have overcome their demons and then you, #ignitediva steps up to a post like this. It is so honest and rational to acknowledge the human condition!

  3. You know how I feel about mental health. Thanks for your post. I hope people find comfort in the fact that they are not crazy or alone. There is a support system if you chose to use it. Glad you’re part of my support system. And you know I have your back if you need it. 🙂

  4. Hi Sara, it’s been awhile but I stumbled upon this masterpiece and feel I must leave a comment. Wow! There is such emotion woven through this post. You’ve written something extremely important here. I’d like to share it with some former students, as I think it will help them through this crazy roller-coaster journey of life. Life is so complex, so deeply personal, and so full of struggles, and it’s honesty that inspires. That’s exactly what you’ve done here. Continue to be awesome and be well. Write on, Right on!

  5. Sarah, this is a lovely, heartfelt post and one that I will remember. Thank you so much for putting your thoughts into words, and then going the distance and sharing them with the world.

    Evelyn Arvey / Gail Bridges (from AW)

  6. I used to do something similar. I would dig my nails under the flesh of my wrist and scratch myself up that way, i was afraid of using a tool to do it. I said it was to equal out the physical pain to the emotional pain that I was feeling. I haven’t done that since high school, but sometimes I think of doing it again, if i wasn’t a mom, and having to explain myself. People didn’t take to kindly to it then, and i’m sure they definitely wouldn’t now. I too have come to understand and ACCEPT me, for who i am, the depression, the oddly sensitive person. BTW i found your blog from a link on FB (from your husband, my long lost brother lol) anyways… Your book… without Harry looks awesome, i think i’ll have to download a copy. I love books! Nice blog!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Katie, and leaving your comment 🙂 We all gotta fight this fight together! And yes, please download Harry. It does deal with depression issues, but it’s also lots of fun!

  7. The amateur scientist in me worries about blood poisoning. Please sterilize first.

    I did it once years ago when my whole life was spinning out of control and I hated myself. Arms, legs, chest, neck. It was more like gouging. I spent most of August in long sleeved turtleneck sweaters.

    Never again.

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