Friday, March 19, 2010

Notes from 2010: October 28, 1998. TRIGGER WARNING


So this is the first entry where I talk blatantly, if briefly, about cutting myself. I'm fairly certain I started self-injuring as a coping method near the beginning of eleventh grade, so it would still have been a pretty new thing for me when I wrote this entry.

Full disclosure: I got the idea to start cutting from a magazine article I read about people who did cut and why it was a bad thing. So even stories intended to deter people from engaging in unhealthy behaviours--which is part of what I'm trying to do here--don't necessarily have the effect the writer hopes they will. Nonetheless, I think it's important to admit that, while I recognize that cutting was (and, in the moments when I give in, still is) an addictive behaviour and a terrible, self-defeating coping mechanism, I also have to admit that in the worst moments of my pain--it did sometimes help. Not always. And it did nothing to deal with the underlying issues. It was a prime example of treating the symptom--the pain in that moment--but not the disease--the underlying depression that cutting couldn't take away.

I would never, never recommend self-injury of any kind as a way of trying to handle pain, for many reasons: Any relief is very temporary, and, if you draw blood, not worth the messy clean up. I was always afraid of the consequences (being forced into therapy? institutionalization? being forced to take medication? my family and few friends being horrified by me?) if someone caught me in the act or saw fresh cuts on my body. The scars--believe me--never go away. It is not bullshit to call SI addictive, and once you start it is very, very difficult to stop: it took me more than a decade to almost never cut anymore, and in bad moments the temptation is always there. The act of cutting can trigger suicidal thoughts at moments when you weren't actually thinking them yet. And, as I said, it does absolutely nothing to help you work through and move past the pain that makes you feel like hurting yourself in the first place.

But at the time... it was the only way I knew to help myself, as sad and awful and pathetic as that is. So I did it. I don't advocate it, and if you can convince yourself to never start at all, you'll save yourself the never-ending battle to stop for good. But SI was and is a part of me, for good or for ill. And I'm not going to hedge about that in this blog.

This is also the first entry where I mention finding it difficult to cry, even when I feel like I need to. I've read since then that that's not so unusual for a person who is severely depressed. I've never gotten back to that point again, and I'm thankful for that, because it would scare the hell out of me if I did. For me, it was a sign of how bad things were getting inside my head.

On a slightly lighter note, naming my diary and referring to it as "you" is something I picked up from the book Go Ask Alice. I read that for the first time when I was 12, and re-read it any number of times as a teenager. It broke my heart and left a huge impression on me, and even though drugs have never been my issue, I felt a huge affinity for Alice and the shit she was going through. Hell, maybe that's part of why I'm blogging my diaries today, since reading her journals meant so much to me at the time.

Finally: Yes, I did actually write out anime-style happy faces by hand in my diary. Yes, I do have to snicker at just how frigging nerdy that is.

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