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What It's Like to Get Caught in the Self-Harm Cycle

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

The Cliff

I have been standing at the edge of this cliff for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember how I got here. I have no memory of before and no hint of after.

The Thought

I have wondered for so long what is below. I have thought of the fall, fantasized about how it would feel and felt the shivers of imagining my body slam onto what’s below. It has given me peace.

The First Cut

I dangle my foot from up there. The fear is overpowering. My heart doesn’t want to fight gravity anymore, but it is too scared to let itself fall from my chest. I hope I don’t lose control of my heart, my hands, my body, my soul.

The Second Cut

I lost control. I just wanted to see what was below. I hoped and hoped and hoped that it was a trampoline down there. I hoped and hoped and hoped that the rebound would be enough to get me back up.

The Fall

The fall is deluding. You think you’re in control because you’re the one who made the decision to let go. I am not in control.

The Branches

Sometimes, it seems like I have settled. It seems like it will not–could not–get worse. That, too, is a delusion. Falling is just getting caught up in fragile branches. They will eventually break.

The Lies

Sylvia Plath lied. There is no ground that is wonderfully solid and you can always fall further.

The Footholds

Sometimes, you change your mind. I want to climb back up. The trick was to try to get a foothold when you’re caught up in a branch.

The Climb

Nobody ever tells you how much harder climbing the edge of a cliff is when you don’t have enough reasons to get back up.

The Relapse

Climbing is a dangerous sport. People die all the time doing it. They lose their footholds or the rock breaks, or the exhaustion is too much for their bodies to handle. That’s why they have equipment to keep them alive. I didn’t have any.

The Fall Again

Once you lose your footing, you’re back to square one. I have less reasons than I did to try again.

So I fall.

This the cycle of self-harming. It goes on and on and on. I hope one day I’ll find my way back up.

Unsplash via Alexander Ramsey

Originally published: December 15, 2018
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