Cutting means hope

It is a known fact that cutting is very different from a suicide attempt, even though some suicidal people cut. The difference is that cutting is an attempt to change something, to make life a little better, suicide is the last escape.

Someone who cuts, is trying to chance something. We often do not even know what it is. We are trying to get help. If we knew how to make it better, we would. Suicide is the manifestation of the believe, that it is never going to get better and that we are not willing to live like this. Cutting is showing that we do not want to live like this. And that we need help to figure out, what is wrong and get better.

Dealing with getting worse

When the leaves fall and the sky starts crying many of us just want to hide and cry as well. Autumn is known for causing depression. But it is even worse, when it coincides with us failing to keep moving towards our vision. Because then all we can do is crumble. And in a matter of days we are back to the very dark places we thought we had left behind for good.

We don’t talk about it, because we are ashamed of ourselves, for not keeping up the good work. For breaking the promises to ourselves. Again. We keep telling the people around us, we are fine, because we do not feel entitled to feel bad. And with us not telling how we actually are, we detach from the people around us. And just like that our entire lives become empty and cold.

We find ourselves having a tinnitus again. Find our feet tickling until we loose all feeling in them. And then we may realize that we have been not taking our medication properly for weeks. Our sleep starts being interrupted. Dreams haunting us. We keep being tired, even though we know we are getting enough sleep.

And we blame ourselves for all of it. We start hating ourselves for letting it all slide. We try to get our lives back on track. Try to focus on our visions. Try to do that homework that we have been putting off. Try to get out of bed. But nothing can stop the sadness inside us. And we know one thing: Even though we try. Even though we try to push away all the negativity, the moment one single thing goes wrong, we will fall. We are fine. For now. But there is nothing we can do to stop the sadness. To stop the cold. To stop the loneliness.

But even though we know we will fall at some point. We keep fighting. Some of us do for the ones close to us. Some do, because they do not want to admit, that they have issues, that they need to address. And some just don’t see the point. I tried to deal with it. I tried to make it go away for good. I know it won’t.

Sometimes life is not about making everything perfect. Sometimes life is about making it through. Sometimes it is about keeping the darkness at bay rather than destroying it. It cannot be destroyed. It will not go away. It will linger beneath the surface and break through at some point. All I want to do, is to make sure it doesn’t destroy me when that point comes. And at some point that has to be good enough.

But how can we make it through? It is a matter of balance in attitude and mindset. For one we have to dump perfectionism. And on the other hand we cannot give up. We need to get stuff done. We have to keep making progress.

We have to get rid of perfectionism, because if we don’t we will never be happy with our progress. And we will keep beating ourselves up.

And we need to figure out what is the most important thing to do. We need to not get overwhelmed. What we do does not have to be perfect, it does not have to be a huge task. But it has to be something. This is what makes sure, that once we feel like working towards our visions again, we don’t give up immediately because the things we did not do pilled up.

Getting motivated may be difficult, but we can, by remembering the recent things that we are pleased with or proud of. And then it is just one step at a time. Living every day a little better than the last one.

Pain. An explanation.

Be it physical or mental pain, it is our body screaming that whatever it is that is hurting us, needs to stop.

When we put ourselves in pain, we want to tell ourselves to stop asking so much of us. We want to tell ourselves, that we need to protect ourselves better. Protect ourselves from other people, from pressure, from our own perfectionist thinking.

We are asking for permission to cuddle up and hide somewhere. We are asking for a break. Asking to be allowed to rest.

Who is it, we need permission from? Who are we asking, to give us a break? Mostly ourselves. It is mostly a way of telling ourselves, that whatever is going on is too much for us to handle. Telling ourselves, to allow us to breath. To stop having unrealistic huge demands for ourselves.

We are also asking the people who know for protection. From our own perfectionism. We are asking them to tell us that we don’t need to push further, without rest to be worthy of their care. We should be able to do that ourselves. But we are not. So we ask for it. In a way that is probably the most desperate in existence. We are in a position, where hurting ourselves and begging for help is way easier than loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves.

Mental pain is not taken seriously unless it is actively affecting our lives. And that is so very subjective. So we reach for the blade to make sure the existence of our pain cannot be denied. Because we ourselves, are the first person to deny that pain. Telling ourselves, that everything is just fine. Telling ourselves, that whatever it is, we can handle it. Telling ourselves, that everyone around us is handling it just fine, so why should we be any different? And that is how we spiral down into a dark place. Trying to be strong. Trying to survive.

Until we reach the point, where we are in incredible pain. Pain we cannot handle anymore. And we slide down into hating ourselves, for not taking care of ourselves. We start hating. And hatred makes blind. We are unable to rationally grasp what we need and we start screaming for help.

We need the pain to stop. But we do not have the strength to make it happen. There is no pain-killer-pill for mental pain. But if there was, it would be the people closest to us. Because they are the only way we can escape the parallelization, we are in before it would naturally stop. But once we have escaped the trap of pain, we will be the ones, to protect us against it in the future. People can help us get out. But only we can help ourselves to not fall in the first place.

The Dilemma

If we cut, we fail. We fail as a friend, fail as family member. We fail as human being. We are cowards. Choosing to not handle our life. But to run into addictions arms instead. We choose to hurt ourselves. And everyone who knows about it.

If we resist the urge, we fail. Fail to resist the urge. Fail to find relief. Fail to be brave enough, to do what we say we want to do. Every time we resist the urge, we question, whether it had been there to begin with. When we resist, we are not happy. We are sad. We feel cold. And we know the urge will come back soon.

There is no right choice for us to make. We try to hide what we are going through. May those who we love be spared our pain! May we be spared the thought to have hurt them with our choices!

Disrespect.

I think I may have finally found the reason I cut. Or at least a mayor corner piece of that puzzle. I do not claim that it is the same for everyone. In fact I am pretty sure it is not. But I know that my core-issue is an issue many have and even though not all of us may develop self-harm as symptom working on it leads to a happier life.

When I got into therapy my goal was to find out, why I cut. Find out, what was “wrong with me”. I think my therapist was actually on to it. She said “there were just so many forces” driving me to do things which lead to me not knowing what I should do. I think the forces around me, the field of tension I was in however only brought out, what was really the issue. A lack of respect for myself. I actually realized that talking to a friend.

As long as we are not under pressure. As long as we are not tested, we just live our lives. But when we are put to the test and we need to do the right thing there are two key steps to success. First we need to know what we want. And usually that is not the thing that feels right. It is the vision we have for ourselves. A vision, that we created, while we were not in that field of tension. And then we need the courage and the strength to respect ourselves enough to act upon that vision.

And that is where I failed in the past. I did not respect myself. I was faced with decisions, I did not want to make. And I did not have the strength to make the right choice. So I turned against myself. I did not cut, because I hated myself. I cut, because I was trying to find an exit in a disorder. I was trying to escape accountability for my choices. And the fact that I did that, makes me be ashamed of myself, which is truly not helpful in building respect.

And I still get the triggers, when faced with though decisions. Which is exactly why I need to practice to respect myself. Respect my feelings, my emotions, my limits. My priorities. My vision. My values.

But I think this can be learned. When we are aware that we do not respect ourselves, we can do something about it. And I find that it is mostly recognizing, that we are more than good enough. Because trying every day to come one step closer to our vision is the very best anyone including ourselves could ever ask of us. The version of us, who is trying to become the best version of us is the best version of us. I have said that before: we cannot expect us to be perfect, when we wake up tomorrow. But we can make tomorrow the day we become a little better.

And if we hit a wall which we inevitably will, we can remember to respect that limit of ours and try again later. We do not loose at life, because we fail at something. We loose, the moment we stop trying. We are right on track even if we just try to try.

And the best thing about respecting ourselves, and acknowledging how we feel and respecting those feelings is that it makes us more confident. And it will lead to us being respected by others. Because when we respect ourselves, when we feel comfortable with ourselves, and every part of us, we will automatically demand respect.

I am not saying that we should not take responsibility for our actions, because we feel bad. I think sometimes all we need to do is try to feel a little better, try to get through a though patch, because we cannot improve ourselves, as long as we feel like the world is ending.

The journey to peace (roll credits *ding*) is not a simple one. And doesn’t end after a few weeks. And sometimes even if we think we are at peace, if we are not careful we might loose that peace. But the journey is one that we are all on. Everyone. Not just someone who is suffering from a mental disease. We all have to choose whether or not to take one more step towards peace hundreds of times every single day. We can all respect ourselves a little more.

I am so very glad I figured this one out. Because I can finally stop blaming my issue on other people. I can finally take responsibility for my cutting. Because its source is my own doing. But that also means that I can change it. And knowing this is so empowering. It is like the torch in the darkness.

I want to focus on what I want more, than I focus on what I don’t want. For one simple reason: if I focus on what I want, I focus on my vision, I focus on respecting that vision. Respecting myself in that way. Because I have known who I want to be for a long time. I just failed to become that person most of the time. Which is alright. But that will change. One step at a time.

Self-respect is not egoism. It is taking care of ourselves, and becoming the best version of ourselves, such that we can be there for others. Because we cannot do that if all we can think about is the blade. This is why self-respect is important for everyone: We are part of this world. And when we become better, the world does with us.

Before we cut

We do not wake up one morning and decide that now would be a good time to cut. Until we cut we prepare ourselves mentally. We keep thinking about it. For days. Maybe even for weeks. Maybe we even hold the blade in our hands. Stare at it. Unable to do it. But that is not the worst part. The worst part is the cold and confusion. The world of pain we live through before we cut. Because until we actually put a blade to our skin, we have hurt ourselves a lot mentally. And in my experience the depth of the cut reflects the mental pain we have been going though. If we scratch our skin, we are trying to escape a dark pit of pain. If we cut until the blood flows. If we cut until the point where we question when it will stop bleeding. We have walked through hell. Mentally.

This is why trying to make us stop cutting will not actually help us. Sure, if we stop cutting we will be spared the scars on our skin, but it does not mean we are healed. It does not mean that the mental pain is gone. And there are so many reasons for that mental pain. Trauma, being in a field of tension, being alone, being empty, one’s relationship to oneself…. they are uncountable and trying to list them all will never do everyone justice.

All I am trying to say is: if we want to heal, we will have to heal from the inside. This is why forcing someone into therapy may save their body but they may wish for death, because controlling them may silence the part of us that wants to recover. Forcing them into something is most likely going to increase their mental pain. If we want to help someone in pain, we can give them advice and if they trust us we may have a chance at leading them to therapy. Talking them into it. Changing their minds. But we cannot do anything against their will. Because it is them who will have to heal. It is them who will have to do the work to get better. And if we cannot decide to heal, we cannot really get better.

And there is another point: depending on how long we have been in the darkness we may not even know what the light is like anymore. We may not even know how it is to not be so hurt that we cut regularly. And of course we know that we are not well. But we do not know what it means to be well. We have forgotten how it is to be free of the blade’s slavery. And we may have given up hope. But even then: unless we want to heal we cannot get better.

I think deep down we all want to heal. No one likes hating oneself. No one likes being in pain. But we may very well be tired of trying to get better. Why? Because maybe we have tried without results. Or maybe we do not believe that we can actually be helped. Maybe we are afraid what a therapist might think. Maybe we simply do not have the energy to put in the work to get better.

And this is the point where we need support. Of those we love. Of those we trust. Not to push us. But to not give up hope in us, even if we cannot believe in ourselves anymore. Sometimes we need someone to gently guide us because we do not have the strength to make the decision to get better ourselves. And that support is worth more than anyone can imagine. Because it may prevent us, from hating ourselves, as even if we cannot love ourselves, there is someone we trust who obviously does. And who still trusts us. So how bad can it really be?

I know for myself that I would have slipped into the darkness deeper and more often if it weren’t for the people around me who were always there no matter what. They are the real reason I can look into the mirror without disgust for what I see. They are the reason I am not an utterly and hopelessly addicted to cutting. So: Thank you.

Emotional Violence

Where is the point where we actually are sick? When is our suffering “big enough”? When is it real? Is it enough if we break down and cry on a daily basis? Do we have to hurt ourselves? Be deprived of our sleep? When does “Pull yourself together!” turn into “Ah you poor thing!”. When is it time to stop trying to push through and admit that we hurt?

There is not a lot I can say. Because pain is subjective. If you feel like crying. You are not making it up. If you feel like screaming and tearing down the place in anger. This is a valid emotion. Sure there are places where such emotional outbursts are plain inappropriate. But for the majority of the time this is our reality. This is how we feel. And it is exactly as real as we feel it. There is one thing I can say and that is that there is no point in making it worse by putting the blade to our skin. Because the people around us either support us for what we tell them we feel or they will not get what the cuts mean either. Someone who really loves us will never need bloody proof of the pain we are going through.

And we shouldn’t either. We should not be questioning our own emotions to the point where we just want to put a label to it. To the point where we cut ourselves, just to justify that we are not feeling alright. Just to prove how awful we feel. Just to prove how worthless we feel. How misunderstood we feel.

We are not sick the moment we cut to know and prove we are not alright. We are sick the moment we consider doing it. It is not about whether or not we have the strength to withstand that thought. We always feel that we have to be strong and that we need to fight it. And I agree, we do need to try to get better. But that does not mean, that if we feel down we are worthless. Because our emotions are absolutely valid and anyone how does not see that does not belong into our close circles because they are bound to hurt us.

I know I am a person who always tries to explain and justify anything I feel. And sometimes I get mad at myself for getting frustrated by something as little as a messed up nail-polish. But isn’t this kind of mindset just an emotional act of violence against us? And can this not even lead to us cutting? Because we want a label. Because we want to stop justifying why we hate ourselves. And we cut to make it obvious. By this logic cutting can start with emotional violence against ourselves.

If someone tells you “You are to harsh on yourself.” They may have seen exactly this. And most likely have a valid point. The thing is: we cannot expect that we just flip a switch and are in total love with ourselves. And again: we are not expected to. But I think that the first step to healing. Really healing. Not just stopping to cut, but healing on the inside, is to start acknowledging our emotions and allowing ourselves to have them. To be kind to ourselves.