just because we cut ourselves, doesn’t mean we’re crazy…

Posted: July 18, 2012 in EBOOK Excerpts: If We Spoke..., For Educators, For Parents and Guardians, For Teenagers
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in fact, and we’re sure this will sound strange, but it’s really logical why some of us do it. and we want you to know that cutting ourselves, or burning ourselves, actually works when we want to feel something different. we’re going to try to explain it to you, so read slowly and carefully, and pause when you’re reading to make sure you understand. because we need you to understand and not just run to call 911 or hurry us to the psyche unit (although for some of us, an evaluation and an opportunity to focus on our mental health might actually be necessary). you see, when we go through any experience, we end up feeling things inside. when bad stuff happens, we feel sad, scared or overwhelmed. when good things happen, we feel excited, joyous or connected. being affected by our experiences and relationships is inevitable. and when we feel painful or confusing things, if we don’t have the self-awareness or vocabulary to understand our feelings and label them correctly,  sometimes they just stay stuck inside us. and if these feelings stay stuck inside us, and we remain confused by them without any way of communicating them or asking for help, they eventually turn toxic and overwhelming… which leads to desperation because we so badly want the pain to go away.  and it’s this desperation that can lead to us cutting our own skin. in trying to figure out how to release these stored up, overwhelming emotions, we sometimes end up turning to physical pain.  again, this may sound strange, and you might be asking yourselves “why cause physical pain to try to deal with emotional or psychological pain?”… and again, it’s not that complicated, so keep reading.

for those of us who are younger, emotional pain can feel nameless and faceless and beyond our own understanding… which is why we cut (and so you know, we’ll use all kinds of things like scissors, hard plastic, sewing needles etc). we’ll cut ourselves because a cut to our skin is obvious, isolated, and healable… which inside pain isn’t (at least not in our younger minds). in addition, a cut to our skin is something we are in control of, where as the emotional pain we’re feeling is usually caused by someone else, and therefore, beyond our control. so it boils down to choosing actual physical pain which we’re in control of, over abstract emotional pain which we feel like we have no control over… and it’s not to kill ourselves, and it’s not always for attention. often, it’s just for the release of brain chemicals that happens when we cut. often, it’s because the people in our lives aren’t taking our experiences seriously enough. often, it’s to punish ourselves for acting in ways that we’re ashamed of. and sometimes, it’s for the excitement we feel when we’re doing something wrong or unhealthy. unfortunately, it is a coping strategy that has become much more visible and as such, many of us have adopted it as a way of dealing with our feelings… but if you think about it, it’s no different than drinking, smoking, having sex or engaging in any other risky behavior… it’s just another attempt by us to feel like our lives belong to us, and not to the forces affecting us.

look, we know it scares people when we do this, and sometimes it scares them so much that they turn a blind eye to our reality… but if it scares you, imagine what it’s like for us to feel so overwhelmed, and so unprepared to deal with our lives…  and so alone that we have to turn to causing ourselves even more pain as a way of coping. so if you know a kid, or suspect a kid you know is cutting themselves, try your best to approach them without panic and judgment, and do your best to engage them in a conversation about what they might be feeling and needing. because the more supported we feel by the adults in our lives… the less likely we are to cause ourselves harm.

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Comments
  1. Very well said. I am going to forward this blog to my husband. He’s having a hard time coping with my self-harm.

    • Rockman says:

      I’m so glad you found comfort in my words… and I hope they can help your husband understand and put him a little more at ease. It can be a very misunderstood behavior, and feeling misunderstood can feel so lonely for people, young or grown. Be proud of yourself for trying to understand yourself more deeply, and even prouder for doing everything you can to stay connected to your support system.

  2. theurgetocut says:

    Wow this is the best explanation of SI I have ever heard or read. I know some people who should read this.

    • Rockman says:

      Thank you… please share it with anyone you think may be put at ease… that’s my hope. And if you have any other issues or topics you’d like me to write about, let me know… there’s always a way to feel more at peace.

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