Cutters… by “Tor”

I am terrified of people finding out about my mental disorder.  I have a very hard time explaining it to myself (let alone someone else) so the thought of having to tell someone *why* I do the things I do is virtually impossible.  That said, what I do is compulsively injure myself.  Some people use the word “cutter” which doesn’t really mean the right thing and is loaded with so many negative connotations.  I prefer the term “self mutilator” despite the fact that many people that I know think it sounds overly crass or vulgar, but I think it describes the trait rather accurately.  Besides, “cutter” seems unfair to all those times I’ve bashed and bruised myself, burned welts into my skin, and buried needles deep into myself.  However, I believe the technical term is compulsive NSSI (non-suicidal self injury).

 

I’ve read books on the subject and mailing lists and forums, but I’ve never felt I fit quite in with them.  When these urges first started happening I was in Junior High.  I don’t think I ever acted upon them until I was a little older (around 14 or 15) but I started noticing sharp or hot objects.  My gaze lingered on them a little too long.  I wasn’t sure why or what I was thinking until one day I was fooling around and jabbed my knee with a pin.  It was extremely dull and when it finally broke the skin the pain washed over me in a calming, almost meditative way.  As that faded I looked down and revelled in the drop of blood welling where I had pulled the point out of me.  Looking at it, I felt this great sense of power, of ownership over myself, of freedom and happiness.

 

Ever since then I’ve been hooked.  For about a year after starting, I thought I was the only one.  I had never heard of someone purposefully hurting him or herself.  Finally after a year of hiding my knives and lighters and needles terrified someone would discover my secret, I thought to search the web.

 

I’ve found groups of people that understand me partially.  Traditional cutters talk about getting an emotional release, letting out tension, or snapping back to reality.  I’ve never thought of it that way, nor have I ever experienced the sudden urgent need to hurt myself immediately that so many describe.  In the body modification community they are firm believers that you own your body and you should be able to do as you wish to it.  You can stand with your scars before them and not have to be shy.  They understand that pain is not always a bad thing.  You can talk about experiences that others would describe as agonizing and they listen, interested.  However, they seek spiritual enlightenment or aesthetic enhancement, or perhaps to reclaim their body.  Few, if any, of the people I’ve met just do it to do it.  BDSM enthusiasts are no strangers to the idea that pain can be pleasurable but in general shy away from anything that might leave serious permanent marks.  Few sexual masochists will actually leave life long scars, and the concept of hurting oneself in a nonsexual setting is foreign.

 

I still to this day have never really admitted all my secrets to anyone I know personally — even my friends who know most of what I do.  On those rare occasions that I have gotten up the guts to confide in someone they have always received it well enough, until a point.  Eventually I can see the disgust on their faces and I have to stop there, and pretend that’s the whole problem.  Even today, my lover doesn’t know the start of it.  I’m sure suspicions are raised somewhat from time to time, but no where close to the true depth of the issue.  I am terrified to leave my bedroom unattended for fear my tools or blood soaked rags will be discovered.  If it happened, how can I explain that I’m not a psycho killer?

 

I’m virtually incapable of discussing this in person due to the sheer embarrassment.  This is something I don’t think I will ever be able to shake, but the thing is it doesn’t get in the way of my life, hardly, at all apart from the shame, secrecy, and guilt.  I’m quite good at what I do, after all my practice, and I have never ended up in the emergency room, never had infections, never lost jobs, never even been caught.  And yet, I worry about having to explain myself to someone virtually every day.

 

Beyond the sheer titillating nature of my compulsion, what fuels my shame is the perception that only 15 year old girls with daddy issues and eating disorders cut themselves, and more than that, the idea that they just want attention.  I am in my mid twenties, very successful, and male.  I would wager than until this paragraph there is a good chance that even you had the image of a teenage girl in your head.  I have heard numerous people that I know joke about emo girls and “cutters” throughout my life and it is considered socially acceptable to mock this.  I have to keep my mouth shut for fear of outing myself.  This is a real problem for myself and all the other people who suffer in silence like me just because they want the right to choose who knows and when they know about their problem.

 

I don’t really know what the point I wanted to get at here was other that paint a picture of what it is to suffer from a particularity stereotyped compulsion, and maybe someone out there might read this and know they aren’t alone.  If that’s you and you’d like to chat with someone going through the same thing (I know it helped me a lot) I’d be happy to talk, just send me an email at tor2@post.com.

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About shatteringthestigma

An open blog taking submissions from skeptics and skeptic friendly individuals on the subject of mental health.

Posted on April 8, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great post, I have ‘self-harm’ issues too and I’m a 35 year old mother of two. People just don’t get it if they see the marks and like you say explaining it in person is so difficult and embarrassing, luckily I have reached the point now where I don’t feel the need to hide it if I have cuts on my arms, but I won’t really discuss it with people either. While I had no preconception of ‘who’ was writing this post I was actually (is this weird?) pleased to read that you are male, I think this subject is often much deeper hidden for men due to the stereotypical view of ‘cutting’ being a ‘teen – emo’ phase thing and as such I guess most men who have these issues are even more likely to be ashamed, embarrassed and hide it because of thinking people will find them less masculine if they know. Congratulations for speaking up 🙂

  2. cutter also 36 mother of 2. my 16 year old for most of his life thought i was accident prone cause i had to lie , sometimes said it happened peeling potatoes. the tool i use most consistently scince age 14 has been a pin lid. back in forth in straight line on forearm several hundred times in a row each time done. causes for me are bullying or being treated inhumane. i usually only do this 3-4 times a year for the past 22 years but sometimes depending on who i have to deal with or sometimes even other environmental conditions i do it more often sometimes several times in a month, reopening the wound. it’s not very deep but is probably resembles a third degree burn. i always cut on same place except a few times when i first started as teen. my husband is worried i’ll end up getting skin cancer from the scar tissue, but its not very deep. i had developed a freckle over it before, but thats now cut away. i went through sexual molestation as a child by brother and sister and even some other people including on a bus as child at back from a man who was involved in a children’s church program it was called the scooby doo bus. they picked children up from the projects to take them to vacation bible school. sick ba-tard. sometimes i cut for myself for a sense that i can at least control something over my hopeless life. most of the time i do it so the ones who are mistreating me can see that im human too and bleed and breath just like they do. does it help? not usually. but sometimes it comforts me when my husband goes and washes it off for me. i guess im pathetic like a kid showing its boo-boos and wanting comfort. but the internal pain is real. lately cutting no longer makes me feel better and im starting to feel violent thoughts towards those who bully me and also when my husband cheats on me towards the other women. upon research i think the reason is im starting to feel more angry towards others for their actions instead of feeling sorry for myself so much. even an instructor assistant said tater sauce when i was in a hurry and put on unclean clothes when late for bus. im staying at a shelter on the transitional housing side and i have no money right now for the coin laundry also the other wv works student have made comments about me and continue to even though ive had a shower they said i smell. my diagnosis is major depression and borderline social phobia , but i think i was misdiagnosed- i think i have avoidance personality disorder upon research i have all the criteria and causes match up which include bullying. the main instructor is out for a few days last week she told the students to stop acting like they were in high school, but they persisted in the comments. and as for the new assistant instructor saying “oh, tarter sauce” when i went to sign out i feel she was unprofessional about her job. and the nerve for yesterday for an assignment siscussion on professionism and the students saying hygiene and laughing. even if i do have an issue the professional thing would have been to take me to the side privatley and firm but at least kind so i could have at least a chance to explain my self. but of course it doesnt work out that way. and with a new symptom of violent thought i wonder if there’s a fine line between social phobia and antisocial which i may be starting to convert to. i feel injustice and wouldnt act out my gory thoughts but they do give me some emotional relief when i think that way. and if it is avoidance disorder how do i avoid getting out of a place i have to be in in order for my child to have pullups. im not here to please these people. and im no longer in terror of what people think of me instead i feel outrage,yet i continue to cut.

  3. I’m sorry to read of your shared troubles. Thanks for reading my essay and sharing your experiences.

    I think sometimes it’s comforting just to know you have something to hold onto, something that is yours and yours alone and that no one can take from you. I hope things get better, but until then, I hope you get some solace from your cutting. And remember, the minute it’s not helping you, it’s just hurting.

    • My diagnosis was major depression and borderline social phobia. The doctor has updated to depression and anxiety and I have an apointment next month to rule out borderline personality disorder. I have cut for 22 years. -Heather.
      P.S. I was molested as a child. Also I was emotionally neglected by mother. I have learned that I have a tendency to “borrow” other people way of speaking and mannerisms because I was never accepted as a child and never learned how to effectively communicate. My sister was the first-born the one my mother was always running to rescue out of trouble. My brother was the smart one. I feel that I was nothing to my mother. She divorced my father when i was a baby. My grandfather was my father figure.I talked like him -a hick. She complained that she didnt talk that way cause she didnt (it was her adoptive father). Whenever she took pics she told me “dont smile like that!” She never accepted me. Also she taught me to “turn the cheek” and never fight back. We grew up in the projects till i was 10 yrs. old. My sister talked black. My mother never ridiculed her and my sister always stuck up for herself. My sister passed away from cancer last year. I still “borrow” her speach when in confrantions even with my husband. I dont do it on purpose it just happens. Sometimes I talk like my brother. tonboy like. Sometimes I talk like a little girl. Sometimes I talk prim and ‘proper’ like my mother. I searched and have discovered I have a creative side. But, yet I cant stop my speach problems. I’m always Heather, and I’m aware when I talk like others, but I dont know how to make it stop. Also, the times I cut are when I’m being treated inhumanely or cruely. I want to stop cutting but I cant. The doctor says I have ‘black and white’ thinking. I’m still not sure what that means.

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