journal, mental health

Give me a reason

Content warning: Self-harm, and the possible “glamourisation” of self-harm.

As of the time of starting this post, it has been 4 days, 10 hours, 21 minutes, and 48 seconds since I last self-harmed.

Prior to 2022 it had been over a decade since I felt compelled to hurt myself. In that time I have been through so much including the death of both of my parents, unpacking issues related to that, and spending eight hours watching someone nearly die while fighting to keep them alive. I took all of that in my stride, lacking grace and stumbling a lot.

2022 though, I was carelessly exposed to the idea of self-harm at my volunteer work and now it is all I can think about as soon as my stress levels get slightly too high. I can go a couple of months, and then a switch flips and cutting myself seems like a perfectly reasonable option.

So here I am, trapped in a cycle of building emotional pressure and using a razor blade to release the valve for a little bit.

My latest lapse took place on New Year’s Eve. Normally I set myself a deadline for the following morning – I need to wait till 9am the following morning and if I still feel like I need to cut, then I can do it. December 31st was different though. Time is a social construct, but I really didn’t want to start 2023 by cutting so I gave myself a deadline of 9.30pm.

I journaled, distracted myself with cartoons and conversations, and tried to sleep it off. The urge remained, and I could not come up with a single reason not to. Other folk didn’t give me a reason either, but I recognise that it is not their responsibility.

So I did it. But before I did, I found an app to track the time that passes between lapses. As soon as I finished cutting, I started the timer.

4 days, 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 22 seconds.

I’ve been told not to condone or promote self-harm, but you know what? It feels good. I like the pain, I like the feel of blood on my skin. I like how the scars look. I like how it feels when the scars are touched. I like it.

I am under pressure, implicit and explicit, to stop self-harming; to get back on the proverbial saddle, and to consider this year a blip in my mental health recovery. Fine, whatever, but give me a real reason not to do it anymore.

I’ve been on Google trying to find inspiration for reasons not to cut again, but there isn’t much there which seems to vindicate my stance. The closest I found was a blog post by Amanda Smith called “101 Coping Statements for Self-Injury and Self-Harming Behaviours”, and it has not helped me.

There are hollow platitudes or a focus on what other people think rather than what the self-harmer thinks. Fine. Then there are the ones that I rail against almost aggressively.

“I don’t want scars.” – Yes, yes I do. Scars are attractive, especially when they are fresh.

“I don’t want to hide my body.” – And I don’t, not because of self-harm.

“I hate the guilt that comes from self-injury.” – What guilt? Why should I waste energy feeling guilty? I’m surviving, and I am proud of that.

“Self-harm is embarrassing to talk about.” – No it’s not. You might not want to hear it, but I am happy to talk about it. The shame of not talking about it is ridiculous.

“Blood smells awful.” – Blood smells awesome. I paint with it. It brings me visceral joy.

So, as you can guess I have yet to come up with any real reason, a reason just for me that doesn’t rely on other people, to stop self-harming. I am not cutting today because I don’t feel the need to. When the need arises again … well, that depends if I can find a reason not to.

4 days, 11 hours, 3 minutes, 15 seconds.

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