I was 14 the first time I ever did it. It was a few weeks before prom and I had this soul crushing realization that the boy I liked would never ask me to prom. No one would. Ever. I was fat and gross and disgusting and not worthy of someone liking me. I remember crying for so long before I got the knife. I knew what cutting was and thought that maybe it would help me stop feeling the way I was or something. I wanted it to do something.
I snuck a kitchen knife into my room and cut my forearm, the hairy side not the underside because I didn’t want to kill myself. I cried the whole time and made about ten marks down my arm. I even went over one spot several times until it was really bleeding, but it didn’t matter. I was still crying. I was still feeling absolutely worthless. Except now I was bleeding.
I cleaned up my scars and bandaged them and then wore long sleeves for months. A few days after it happened, I forgot for a second and went to roll up my sleeves and a classmate noticed. I didn’t say anything and ignored the issue completely. Eventually, the scars were healed enough that my arm hair covered them up so I wasn’t so self-conscious about it. I still spent a lot of money on various scar creams over the next few years to try to fix what I what I did, but I got over it for the most part.
I was 19 when I really started to cut. I was at this summer program in between freshman and sophomore year of college and had just realized that I didn’t want to go into medicine like I had always thought I did. I felt so lost and unsure of where I was going. On top of that, I felt like everyone else at this program was making lifelong friendships while I could barely connect. They were friendly with me, but I was just an accessory to the group and not really part of it. So, one afternoon while my roommate was gone, I took a pin and swiped it across my thigh a couple of times. Real light, just the smallest hint of blood. I did this about three times before I went home.
I was home for two weeks before moving into my apartment at school. I used the pin a few more times, but I got mad that there wasn’t very much blood so by the time I moved into my new apartment, I had switched to a knife.
I kept the knife in a first aid kit I had. I would cut up my thighs and then clean the wounds and bandage them up. It was a crosshatch type pattern, swiping probably 10-20 times per incident. It wasn’t very long before I started cutting daily and then multiple times a day.
When I hung out with my friends, I wanted to die. I felt like I was floating above them. They were below me hanging out and having fun and I was just this outsider, totally unable to connect or feel accepted by them. I thought they hated me. I would frequently touch my thighs and feel the warmth of my most recent scars through my jeans. It helped me refocus and deal with being around them. Sometimes, I would carry a safety pin with me so I could sneak in a few lines in the bathroom to help me get through the night with them.
In just a few weeks, I ran out of room on my thighs and switched to my wrists. I was careful on my wrists. See, when I was alone, I didn’t always want to kill myself, and when I was especially low, the cutting helped me not want to kill myself. I liked to see the blood. It focused me. I was stuck in this thick foggy haze and the blood help bring me back to the real world.
Then my cousin told me he wanted to kill himself. It might sound terrible, but him telling me that is what made me seek help. I was so devastated that my cousin felt this way (of course blaming myself for that because everything that happens to anyone anywhere is my fault), but I felt like I couldn’t help him since I was such a mess.
It took three phone calls and three incidents of cutting to get through the phone tree to make an appointment. I was afraid that they were going to make me tell them everything over the phone and I couldn’t do that. But, I made the appointment and then waited for it. The appointment was all I could think about. What were they going to ask me? What if I say the wrong thing? What if they didn’t believe me or say I was exaggerating or I was just whinny and needed to get over it?
I kept cutting for a while after I started medication, but less often. My doctor actually said it was okay at the time because I told her how the cutting made me not want to kill myself (obviously though I should try not to).
About a month or so into treatment, I tried to kill myself. I wrote a letter, put on a nice dress, did my makeup, and took 36 Tylenol PM’s, some sleeping pills I had lying around, and the rest of my antidepressant. A little after I did this I got scared and made myself throw up several times. I then went to sleep not entirely sure whether or not I would wake up. I thought about calling someone, but I decided if I didn’t wake up, it wasn’t meant to be. But I did wake up and threw up all over myself and my bed several more times. I don’t know now if I was happy or sad about waking up.
Over the course of the next few months, I still kept cutting, but with lessening and lessening frequency. I stopped volunteering as much as I used to, missed a lot school, didn’t do assignments, and made up lots of excuses to not hang out with my friends. I never told my doctor that I tried to kill myself. I didn’t want to disappoint her.
College was a struggle. By the end of my sophomore year, I had stopped cutting, but I was still going through so much internally. My transcript is a good reflection of my mental health with my A’s and B’s showing I was doing well and the D’s and F’s showing my low points. I would be okay and then I wouldn’t be.
It’s still how I am now. Sometimes I’m good and sometimes I’m not. The difference is I’m a lot better at knowing when I’m sliding and try to get help when it happens. I’ve been on and off a whole slew of medication and seen psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and counselors. I’ve only had a few slip ups over the last eight years, but the scars are still there. For almost five years, I wouldn’t wear anything that showed my legs above the knee. I still feel self-conscious in a swimsuit, but I try really hard to accept my scars and not let them define me. Of course, I don’t wear shorts around my family or a swimsuit. They don’t know about that part of me, and I don’t know if I could ever tell them. I’ve told my friends bits and pieces over the years. I don’t think I’ve told them everything, but I’ve told them a lot. I do think however that they associate that with “past me,” but I don’t know if the urge to cut is ever going to be completely gone. My depression will never be gone and I don’t think my scars will ever be gone, but I’m trying to live with that.