Editor’s note: This post discusses self-harm and may be triggering to some. If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
I think my favorite (or rather, most frequent) form of self–harm is indifference. I find myself in situations where I have to decide my fate of sorts, and yet in almost every one of them, I don’t care about the outcome or how it will affect me. It’s not because of some I-can-handle-any-challenge-that-comes-my-way mindset. I genuinely have no interest in where my decision will lead. Because I don’t care what happens to me.
I like to think I’m not actually this way. Sitting here now, I’m thinking, “There’s no way I have a complete lack of self-preservation.” I mean scientifically speaking, I should have some sort of defense mechanism in my brain that kicks in in times of survival (you know, “survival of the fittest” and whatever Darwin was talking about). Like if I’m crossing the street and I see a car heading my way at a not-so-low speed, my body should react on its own and get out of the way as fast as possible. But in reality, I either don’t bother changing my pace or I just stop and wait for the car to hit me. Don’t mind me, I’m just a walking death wish here!
I used to cut myself for various reasons. It started the first year I was in college and continued sporadically until about a year ago. I haven’t cut since — not that I haven’t wanted to. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting down watching TV and get the sudden urge without even being triggered by anything around me. It passes more quickly now, but the urge still rises every now and then. I’ve found some ways to alleviate the stress, such as snapping a rubber band or hair tie, or holding ice against my skin. These seem to work for me.
I think when people hear the term “self–harm,” their imagination is very limited to physically cutting or possibly burning one’s skin. But it’s so much more than that. We’re harming our psychological selves. And though the physical acts leave scars on our skin, those marks are nothing compared to the ones we’ve formed internally. Our souls have been carved, emptied, ripped to pieces, and stitched back together again. Those scars may never fade, and that’s far worse than the ones visible on our skin.
Although self–harm isn’t something that should be glorified or made to be “heartbreakingly beautiful,” it also isn’t something to be ashamed of. I was ashamed when people started asking me about my cuts and scars. I never felt comfortable sharing the truth with anyone — not even my own family. So I would do as best I can to cover them either with clothing or skin-colored bandages. But now, I’m not embarrassed to leave my arms bare for the world to see. I even got a tattoo of an oak tree over the spot on my arm that has the most scars— not because I want to cover them but as a reminder of the things I survived and that I can still grow and thrive despite the struggles I have faced (and continue to face) in my life. Anyone who has harmed themselves in this way should know they are not alone and are not bad people for what they’ve done. Everyone finds their own ways to survive, and no one can judge you for fighting for your life.
More recently, I’ve taken a “liking” to harming myself by abandoning myself. I’ve hung myself out to dry and walked away without a care in the world — without a care for my own well-being. Sometimes it’s little things like not showering because I don’t care about my own personal hygiene or not eating because I have no energy to walk to the kitchen, and self-care provides no motivation whatsoever. Because it’s non-existent. But other times, it’s driving down the road and speeding through an almost-red light, knowing there’s a good chance I could get T–boned by an oncoming car. Even though I’m not actively seeking out ways to harm myself, I’m not doing anything to prevent myself from being harmed, which, in my opinion, is just as bad.
For a long time, I was so angry with everyone (my family and friends) for “abandoning” me. For not caring about me and my own well-being. But I never even let them care for me in the first place. Why should I? I don’t feel like I’m worth caring for, so I shouldn’t waste their time (part of their life) begging for their support and constant reassurance. I don’t care about myself. I don’t care if I live or die. I am last on my priorities’ list. I’m a ghost of a person who maybe never even existed in the first place. People need life to be alive. Life needs care and love and nurture. None of which I’ve allowed myself to have or reach for.
Why am I like this? How do I stop being like this? I don’t know the answers to these questions now, but I have to start somewhere, right?
If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
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