I had always believed that injuring oneself is ridiculous. What could one possibly get from cutting assorted body parts? Who wants scores of ugly scars and scabs all over their body? How can people indulge in and actually enjoy it? How can it be a means to cope with depression?
Suffering from emotional trauma is one thing; add to that the physical pain of self-injury, and what is the result? Nothing fruitful comes out of it, or so I believed until I tried this seemingly overrated practice myself.
Owing to religious beliefs, I have never done drugs or booze. Until a couple of years ago I could not comprehend how anyone could simply block out emotional drama and become numb by ingesting something as inconsequential as a handful of colorful pills, or a few glasses of intoxicating fluid.
Being a reasonably sensible person, I always try to view the glass as half-full, and seek to derive the positive out of every situation. And that is exactly why I believed that there are more mature ways of handling depression and emotional trauma than through self-injury. However, my rational nature also compelled me into believing that there had to be some kind of relief in such seemingly stupid things. After all, why is the whole world into cutting and self-injury when it is all about pain? As I had yet to discover, injuring oneself is not just about pain; in fact, it is a relief of sorts.
My father’s sudden death, high school final exams just around the corner and the numerous issues of adjusting to a completely new, fatherless life plunged me into a deep depression, the likes of which I had never experienced before. I tried seeking solace in prayer, only to find myself in tears and with an even heavier heart than before. And then I turned toward the hordes of self-help articles and tutorials online, with the same underlying themes of trying to find a silver lining in every cloud. Nothing helped.
The cloud above me was getting heavier and darker with each passing minute. One day, aimlessly browsing the Internet, I stumbled on an article about how a 16-year-old girl found escape and transformation in cutting her arms and legs. As tired of life as I was, I decided: why not give it a go? What have I got to lose? And on that fateful day when a simple kitchen knife touched my skin for the first time and blood seeped out, my perception toward drugs, booze and self-injury completely changed; for better or worse I’m not sure.
Cutting is painful. It brings tears in your eyes, leaves ugly marks on your skin, not to mention the mess it creates with the blood and everything. But after experiencing it firsthand, I can assert that it was a different experience altogether — somewhat exhilarating. Every day, I started looking forward to being left alone in my room or away from family in the privacy of my bathroom, where I could cut myself to my heart’s content without the fear of being watched. It worked like a quick fix to my depression, a way of lifting my spirits and boosting my self-confidence, no matter how insignificantly, by leading me into believing that I am brave and strong enough to bear such pain.
I don’t encourage teens and young adults to mutilate themselves, but the physical pain of cutting actually takes you away from the bitter reality of life and the emotional pain, even if for a short while. This may not work in everyone’s case, but it surely did in mine. Soon after coming to terms with this realization, I began mutilating myself regularly because it gave me a sense of accomplishment and I started feeling as if I am a part of some global fraternity that indulges in self-mutilation on a regular basis. And although it did wonders for my self-confidence and esteem (or so I believed), the scars left behind are not a pretty sight, although I do feel a surge of pride whenever I look at them.
I am not really proud of how I coped with depression by taking the easy way out — although some would say this was a tougher way out — and I wish I had persevered and let out my frustrations in a healthy manner instead of disfiguring myself. My religion does not permit liquor or anything intoxicating, but does indulging in self-mutilation make it any different? Is it not intoxication if I am willing and actually looking forward to doing it repeatedly despite knowing that it is not good for me?
My advice to all the teens and young ones out there: Do not fall into this vicious cycle of self-mutilation. You will get a rush out of it, and it will probably take you over the moon, but let me tell you that it is not worth it. Just as drugs and liquor can slowly destroy you, so can self-harm. It will only give you temporary relief, and the next morning when you wake up, it will not be a pretty sight. Your body is a beautiful gift from God. Do not let it go through something it does not deserve!
Amy Smith is a pen name as the author wishes to remain anonymous.