On Self Harm

Lisa: Anyway, Mom, maybe you should go into therapy.

Marge: No, I don’t need therapy, I’m fine. And it’s too expensive.

Homer: And I don’t believe in it! It breaks up families, turns wives against husbands, children against fathers, neighbors against me. You don’t have to pay some fancy psychiatrist ten bucks an hour to get top-notch therapy.

Throughout my life, I have dabbled in several forms of self-harm. It started when I was a kid in primary school; I would bite my hands and my arms whenever I was really frustrated at things going on around me, such as being shit in our dance lessons in PE (fuck you, whoever devised that) or when my work in class was just not going very well.

Luckily, nobody noticed this behaviour. I kept doing this relatively frequently up into my late teens; even as a sixth former I would do this in private when things were going horribly. After I dropped out and went to dropout college my mental health began to decline even more rapidly, and the habits got worse - first, I started trying to do cuts with a pair of scissors and the kitchen knives (perhaps unsurprisingly, this didn’t really work).

Eventually I graduated to a pencil sharpener blade, where I learned the joy of being able to bleed! There was very little that provided as much of a mental boost as being able to lick up the blood out of my wounds, however little, and putting a nice plaster over it. But the pencil sharpener blade wasn’t enough; so one fateful December afternoon, I went out to the big shop and got myself a small pack of razor blades - the really sharp square ones.

My first attempt with these blades did not go very well; being used to an incredibly blunt blade before, I opened up a pretty nicely sized gash on my upper arm. Luckily, I had also gotten a bunch of differently sized plasters and some antiseptic wipes so I cleaned it out and put the big scary plaster over it.

To many normal people, who don’t partake in recreational self-inflicted pain, this may seem like a completely alien world. Normal, neurotypical people simply don’t understand why cutters or biters or head-bashers do it. They’ll look at us as if we’re freaks; and try and

INTERVENE

for our own safety.

Some people in the SH ““community”” (I use this term very loosely) appreciate this intervention. It’s really hard to reach out for help, and having somebody else come in and find you is a lot simpler and a lot easier than the opposite.

However, I absolutely do not want a single fucking shred of normie interventions. When it comes to topics like this, the normie response is to absolutely pile on as much guilt as humanly possible. The issue is not the things that made you self-harm; it is how your friends or family feel knowing that you are self-harming.

Every single piece of modern normie discussion on the self-harm topic roughly boils down to these:

  1. Have you tried therapy?
  2. Think about how other people feel knowing you do this!
  3. Call the suicide hotline at 0800-00-1234
  4. Don’t ruin your beauty with scars!

On a public SH forum I used to frequent - which I won’t be naming lest the fucking moral police come in and harass everyone into shutting it down - the sense of shame was a common sentiment. It ranged from general self-hatred about cutting, to people recanting stories of how their family considers them fundamentally a fucking degenerate for self-harming. There is actually little to zero sympathy in any of these viewpoints; it’s nothing other than shaming.

How dare you cut yourself! How dare you burn yourself! How dare you punch yourself in the head - hold on, no, that one doesn’t work. Normies do not care about SH methods other than cutting and maybe burning. Other methods aren’t visible so it doesn’t matter! You still look the same. I don’t have to feel ashamed about looking at you because I can’t actually see any of the damage!

Who does this blame and shame culture help? The victims? Fuck no. I imagine that many people are successfully shamed into not cutting anymore, but the underlying problems aren’t solved. Being sad is fucking CRIPPLING! It seeps into every single crack of your life. It makes you non-functional. In this world, it makes you a non-human.

For me, and many others, self-harm is or was a way to escape this endless sadness. The body releases endorphins when being wounded, so the act of cutting immediately acts as a mood booster. For me, at least, looking down at my arm and seeing the fresh scabs, it was cathartic! My routine rapidly mutated into coming home, getting undressed, cutting so I could feel better about the shitty day I had at college, and then being able to function as a human being.

Don’t get the wrong impression - This is unhealthy behaviour. I know this is unhealthy behaviour. Everyone knows this is unhealthy behaviour. But saying “This is unhealthy” behaviour doesn’t change the fact that it stopped me from being fucking sad all of the time!

I stopped cutting eventually because of the guilt. I don’t feel better. I still feel the urge every day, that one good slash would make me feel happier. Deep down, I know I’m right about this - but the only meaningful thing that stops me from doing it is the fucking hassle of being interrogated by everyone about my personal antidepressant.

If you are a normie, and somebody confides in you about being a cutter or whatever the fuck else, and you try and shame them or get them to stop now, you are instantly blacklisting yourself from ever being seen as someone to go to. You don’t have to support them, or egg them on - what the fuck is wrong with you if you do that - but you should help them be safe about it, at the least.

I’ll end this with what I believe is the actual best anti-SH propaganda possible: You will never forget the feeling of having to push out the gunk from a styro cut in the shower in the few days after immediately opening it. Eugh!