Because of the emptiness.
I cut because I need to. It’s not like one day you wake up and decide, “scars on my arms and legs? chance of infection? being a social pariah if I’m ever caught? That’s the life for me!” It was a very gradual process that led me to cutting.
I’m schizophrenic and bipolar. There are times when I can barely control myself. When I’m stressed or emotionally drained, I can go from fits of violent anger to a depression as deep as the ocean. I literally see red when I’m angry, and cannot open my eyes when I’m depressed. When my episodes started getting more and more erratic and often, I would go into screaming fits, I would sob and scream and cuss and pull my hair. It got worse and worse as time went on and my family put off getting me help. I would have convulsions and bash my head against walls, scratch my arms with my fingernails, pull out my hair, etc. It wasn’t a temper tantrum like what little kids do, though. It was this searing, empty feeling in my soul. I just felt so much pain I didn’t know what to do with it. I felt like I needed to let off pressure and I was so frustrated because I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure where all that pain and frustration was coming from, and it really pissed me off. I was so hurt by something and it wasn’t even real, so I guess in a way I needed to make it real. I needed to make some kind of opening so that those bad feelings could get out.
I didn’t actually start cutting until I went to a doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with bipolar schizophrenia and chronic depression. He said that what I was doing was called self-harm and that it was going to damage my brain if I didn’t stop. He prescribed me seroquel, so I could stop having those uncontrollable fits of violence and so I could sleep at night. He prescribed me prozac so maybe I wouldn’t feel that deep, dark, alone feeling.
The medicines helped me for a while, but eventually it started to feel like they were eating away at my self. I wasn’t depressed anymore, I was just catatonic. I felt like nothing. I felt like nothing mattered. I started to do some research on what the doctor had told me I had been doing: self-harm. I learned that some people hurt themselves for other reasons, such as feeling like they didn’t really exist. I also learned that, above all else, people found cutting and burning to be the most effective for snapping them back to reality. I tried burning, but it wasn’t right. Then I cut myself for the first time and it was like waking up from a bad dream.
I told my doctor, and he said I was “self-medicating” with alcohol and cutting. I told him I didn’t want to take drugs anymore. He phased me off them and I quit seeing him and have since cut down immensely on my alcohol consumption. However, I feel that cutting keeps me balanced enough to function, which is more than I can say for the drugs they gave me.
I’ve been self-harming since I was 12, and am now 19 and have no intention of stopping. I cut because I have to, because sometimes there’s just too much pent up emotion to control, occasionally because there are outside forces doing it to me, but most of the time, I do it because it makes me feel normal on the inside.
Person [female, age 19, began to SI at age 12, wife/arts and crafts store sales associate]