Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cutting: When The Pain Just Can't Get Out

I was thinking about whether or not to put a trigger alert at the beginning of this post as it might be touchy but I could put a trigger alert on this entire blog. So, for what it's worth since some of this might be a bit alarming:


I am a cutter. Or a was a cutter. Have been a cutter. I am a reformed cutter? Once a cutter, always a cutter? Someone early on commented that I am a "label whore" because of all of my diagnoses and that made me laugh. So I guess, I'll simply add to that and say that yes, I am a cutter. I also say this because since I've done it in the past, I know that I am capable of doing it in the future. I think that will always make me a cutter.

Every cutter has a story, as I have learned. I can not speak for everyone so I will simply talk about my own experiences. Some people cut habitually, I on the other hand have only cut impulsively while in the throes of uncontrolled mixed state cycling.

Why? I guess during those moments, the utter pain, despair, frustration and hopelessness was so intense that words could not express what I felt. In a mixed state, you are simultaneously depressed but experiencing manic symptoms so you have the capability to act out violently. While the depression makes you feel so absolutely dead inside, the mania demands that you do something to make yourself feel alive. You cry out to the world to show your pain, to feel it so you reach for a knife and you damn well make it known.

The first time I cut myself I became an amatuer surgeon (albeit, a very bad one.) I severed three-quarters of the left median nerve in my wrist. All the doctors were amazed that I didn't hit any major arteries or veins. I was sent for surgery the next morning and they repaired it but not completely. I still have some numbness in my hand and fingers that will never return.

The second time, I more wrecklessly slashed my forearm deep into several layers of subcutaneous fatty tissue. No serious damage was done and I was stitched up in the ER.

Cutting is serious business. I absolutely loathe the taboo that surrounds it. Most frequently, it is attributed to people with Borderline Personality Disorder but believe me, people with BPD haven't cornered the market on self-injurious behaviour. I am living proof of that. And it works both ways--not all people with BPD harm themselves either.

Not long after the first cutting I spoke to my cousin who is an ER doc. She didn't know about it, just that I was hospitalized for psych reasons (even though I was kept on a surgical floor.) She immediately launched into a tirade about "cutters" and how she couldn't stand them as they were all a bunch of attention seekers, how they just wouldn't stay on their meds and how they never listened and on and on. I was deeply disturbed. I then told her casually the reason for my admission. Oh, she backpedalled hard but she couldn't redeem herself. I had always idolized her but now she really dropped from my esteem. We have since spoken and she seems a bit more sensitive to mentally ill patients. Perhaps she's had some training or grown up a little bit?

I won't argue that it can be difficult to help or treat someone who is a cutter (or who participates in other self-injurious behaviours.) It can be downright disturbing and painful in it's own right to witness it, perhaps even more so if it's habitual. But it doesn't mean that the person deserves less than adequate and/or sensitive care. For someone to get to that point, they are really, really hurting. I know. I never thought I'd find myself there but I did.


- brydz - said...

as a cutter myself i know where your coming from. it's good to see someone write about it in such an honest way.
my poem 'Addiction', i wrote with cutting in mind feel free to check it out

Patient Anonymous said...

Hi -brydz-, thanks for stopping by. Yes, honesty is the policy around here! Your poem is good. Very blunt and to the point and it really seems to reinforce the emotions (or even lack thereof?) that one can experience when dealing with self-harm.

Take care and hope to see you again.

- brydz - said...

i hope you don't mind but i've added links to you on both my blogs. let me know if you don't want to be linked or whatever.

Patient Anonymous said...

Oh no -brydz-, I'm always happy when someone links to me or adds me to their site. Thank you very much indeed! I popped by your place (or one of them?) the other day and saw it and meant too say thanks. So no problem at all. I really appreciate it!

Hope you're well.

- brydz - said...

yeah i've just stuck to haveing one place now as i'm too unorganised to update my personal one daily, but i'm yet to figure out how to delte it so i'll just leave it there!

Patient Anonymous said...

Heh...the fun of blogging!

- brydz - said...

lol yeah and now i've swapped back to two lol

keep smiling