I originally posted this early in the summer of 2013. I don’t see an easy way to reblog it and hide the images so I have instead copied the contents into a new text post with the potentially triggering images hidden behind links at the bottom.
This is Not Cool
I first started to self harm early in elementary school. I can’t remember exactly what started it but what I remember the most was being incredibly frustrated with my personal failures. If I couldn’t concentrate on my homework I would hit myself in the opposite arm or punch myself in the stomach and yell to myself things like, “You’re so stupid! Why can’t you pay attention? This is so easy just stop being stupid for once in your life!” I found that I needed to hit myself with other objects to inflect more effective pain so I would often slap myself with a metal-edged wooden ruler until I had developed a large welt.
In the sixth grade I developed a large plantar wart on the sole of my left foot. It hurt with each step I took. I went to the doctor once and they tried freezing it off with liquid nitrogen. That only killed the surface layer and the normal skin around it. I was left with a volcano crater exposing the heart of the wart which hurt ten times as much as it did before. At night I started yanking small pieces of it out with tweezers. Originally, I was hoping I could kill it and rid myself of this pest forever. The pain was so terrible though that the wart regrew itself faster than I could bear to yank out the mutated flesh. I ended up starting to enjoy, even relish this nightly torment I put myself through. It was a gladiator fight between me and some sick virus bent on converting my body one cell at a time. Months later I had developed a slight limp and went back for a second unsuccessful liquid nitrogen treatment followed by a third with excision by scalpel.
In the eighth grade I was minding my own business in math class when the emotionally disturbed student next to me stabbed me in the finger with his pencil. He stared at me and I stared back. Eventually he flinched first and turned away to look at his textbook in defeat. Later that month I realized the tip of his pencil was still embedded in my finger underneath the scar. I tried digging it out with an X-acto blade and my sister found me like this with blood streaming down my finger. She asked something along the lines of “Do we need to take you to a mental hospital?” and I joked about it and went back to my work.
By the ninth grade I was carving symbols into the back of my hand and wrist by digging at the skin repeatedly with a needle during class. Then I would draw over them with differently colored pens to turn them into temporary tattoos. Swastikas, pentagrams, skulls, flaming crosses, and so on dotted my hand during this period even though I was neither racist nor religious in any fashion.
By the 12th grade I had discovered plain old cutting with horizontal slashes across my forearm with my trusty X-acto blade. Of course I also developed the fashion of always wearing long sleeve shirts regardless of the weather. One day a friend discovered them in class when my sleeve fell back while I was writing. She grabbed my arm and fiercely said, “Don’t ever let me catch you doing that to yourself again!” Alas, the lesson I learned from this experience was to hide my cuts better in the future.
The pictures above begin the year after I finished high school. I generally kept the damage to my upper arm except when I ran out of room or was embroiled in too much self hate to control myself. The first cut shown did not bleed a single drop. I was so pumped up on adrenaline that night that all my capillaries were cinched tight. I also miraculously didn’t hit any veins. My girlfriend at the time begged me to go to the hospital to get stitches but I refused because I didn’t want to explain what happened. That isn’t a butterfly bandage on it, just a single layer of gauze I laid on it to keep dirt and clothing fibers out. It took a full month for the wound to close because I couldn’t stop picking the scabs out to hurt myself even more.
In the 2001 photo you can quickly see how I progressed from one large cut to as many smaller ones as I could fit on my arm. Instead of educating myself and finding good and less destructive coping skills I immediately began to rely on cutting for everyday stress. It grew into an addiction and instead of seeking to relieve my pain in the moment I would store it in my personal “reasons to cut later tonight” pouch.
The last two photos are from I stabbing myself six times in the forearm and twice in the left hand with a small paring knife (the handle is visible on the right edge). I went through quite a few paper towels that night to control the bleeding. Even though I was only trying to make myself bleed and hurt, the wound on the left side of my hand permanently damaged a tendon. For two weeks I could barely move my little finger. After a decade of healing I still can not move it as well as I used to. For example I can’t reach the tilde and escape keys on a keyboard to type without moving my entire hand. Nothing I can do will bring that flexibility back. Someone kissing my wounds (as sweet as that would be) will never change what I’ve done. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the associated wounds on my forearm and the scars themselves have been lost amid all the others from cutting.
When it became clear to me I was going to be scarred too much to ever excuse away or lie about them, I started developing a new mentality towards the disease. It wasn’t just about getting through a mental crisis anymore. It was about making myself as ugly on the outside as I felt on the inside. During my absolute darkest period I desired to dismember myself and remove some fingers or even my entire left hand so that nobody ever could doubt that I was seriously disturbed. One heavily intoxicated night I removed a bullet from my father’s desk and placed it in a vise. I put a face shield on to protect myself from the flash and cinders then held my left palm to the tip of the bullet and struck the back with a nail and hammer repeatedly. I was seriously hoping I could blast a hole in my hand and claim it was an accident. In a rare stroke of luck in my life, I had not the coordination to strike the firing pin sufficiently to discharge the bullet.
I officially quit self harming sometime around 2005. There was one day around 2008 or 2009 I tried to do it but I couldn’t bring myself to push the razor into my skin. I kept thinking over and over in my head that if I started again I wouldn’t be able to stop until I had killed myself. I still think of it the same way today.
Let my mistakes be a guide for you all. Do not take out your pain and frustration the way I did. No matter how much you tell yourself you don’t care now, one day you will wish you hadn’t disfigured yourself. There are better ways to get through the night. There are better ways to keep yourself sane.
Even if you never self harmed or never even considered it please read this guide so you can identify it in others and help. They may be shy about it. They may deny it and lie. But really, they need you to notice, care, and be there for them.
For those who don’t mind the potential triggers you can see how the worst of my scars look today in this previous post :
More photos behind the links:1999