i call bull$#it: cutting, suicide, and the things we don't understand

this isn't something i will enjoy writing very much, and might not be something many people enjoy reading.  i don't even particularly want to post it for those reasons.  but the reason i am writing this is for the few people who will read this and say oh my god yes, because even if we can talk about depression there are a lot of parts of depression that are still so hard to say and to speak and to call our own.  i've been depressed for six years and woven in and out of that time have been little threads of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and disordered eating.  so i'm going to pull on those threads a little now, to unravel the biggest pieces of stigma in sadness; the things people understand the least.  so for now i'll start with cutting.  

here are my own pieces of truth. 
i'm not saying it or talking about cutting and self-harm it for any other reason than this: i want other people to be able to talk about it too.  there is something so isolating in the most absolute complete way about being suicidal and hurting yourself.  it feels subhuman.  it feels like the most basic thing- some kind of survival that should be a primal instinct and shared in all of humanity- is just, missing.  i don't feel particularly brave for posting what i posted before, and i feel kind of nauseous about posting this because it feels empty and savage but it is all true and so i am sending it into the world with the hope that it will find another truth, somewhere, and make it okay.  okay to talk about and just a lot less scary.  


self-harm and suicide are probably one of the most misunderstood things about depression and mental health.
there is the obvious impact and immediate emotional stress on people that release the theories of attention seeking and the greed and selfishness of suicide, which is totally understandable.  obviously when someone close to you hurts themselves you will wring your heart trying to find answers.  but those theories linger, and they are a bit wrought with inevitable angst and sadness and a lot less founded in the hearts of the depressed than in the hearts of their friends.  because i can absolutely guarantee you that it just isn't like that.  at no point in my life has any mark on my arm or body been for anybody but me.  i have gone through phases of hiding things, having back up stories in case people ask, or just being too out of it to even think someone would notice and realize what was going on.  

i've never really understood all of the dynamics around cutting and attention-seeking.  this is of course referring to the semantics of being emo and/or cutting for attention.  by this i mean, so what? is it not sufficiently messed up for people that someone would go to the extent of physically harming themselves for attention?  and also, is there something seriously wrong with longing for the love of others?  because i'm pretty sure just about everything we do is for love. buuut i've never been so worried about that.  if someone accused me of attention seeking they would either be obviously wrong or obviously right and in both cases all i have to do is speak, because that's just straight up bs.  and i will tell you that if you talk about me or anyone else who has hurt themselves like that: bullshit.  it does bother me some, really- to think about the severe complex systems of my heart and to see it so unpoetically simplified.  to think that someone can take the most titanic shadows in my life and turn them into trivialities, to diminish them to something that is found in the world most people have instead of something spun from a darker place.  and that is part of my pet peeve about "crazy ex-girlfriend/boyfriend" banter as well - you are diminishing something that is so much more than those words.  something that is much more than my words.  and so i will tell you that for me, cutting was always a very personal experience. i honestly don't even know why i started, why it occurred to me as something to do.  theories around control and the seduction of controlling pain make sense to me but there is more to it than that.  the word that fits is release.  that is the only word that completely fills the feeling for me.  it is like you are full of dark and heavy air and it just leaves when you hurt yourself (either by throwing up, or by cutting, or burning, or whatever).  it just feels like all of the darkness and weight escapes and light seeps in through your pores and you can sigh and smile again.  that's what it feels like.  the other thing about it is they are personal trophies and badges.  they are for me and me alone.  they show my pain and it becomes a weird poetic obsession, and it is dark and horrible but that is the truth.  it is something i have moved beyond at the moment, and my last scars are from june, which is very good for me.  but i could make a map of my arms for you and show you every scar i have ever had.  

but cutting is a scary world.  cutting is a world where once you start it is just so SO hard to stop.  it is a world where anything can trigger you to go running to the nearest room and finding the nearest not-totally-blunt-object and it puts you in a world that is so much worse than anywhere you've ever been before.  i never took my efforts to stop hurting myself seriously until an exasperated meaggy asked my old therapist why i would bother stopping, and she replied so simply "because if you don't, you'll never get better."

my scars are a direct communication line between me and my demons that excludes the rest of the world.  it is a language that is only spoken by darkness.  it pulls you out of the world, and when it brings you back you are full of this air that means nothing.  and you can float on that air for a little while but it takes you further and further away from the world that matters.  if there is one thing that scares people with depression, it is the thought of forever, of an eternity of madness and just never getting better.  in case it isn't clear what i'm saying here is this: try not to hurt yourself.  it is a bad idea.

but what i really want to say is this: don't even talk about the things you don't understand.  because i don't think i've ever heard bs about cutting from someone who has experienced it themselves.  don't think about suicide as greedy if you have never been there - anyone who has been close enough to suicide can tell you that it is an absolute coma of darkness, and no kind of reasoning or information about other people can penetrate that little haze of misery.  it's just not about that.  it is a total haze where everything is nothing.  when i would hurt myself, somewhere inside of me i must have known that it would hurt the people who loved me - but depression silences that part of things, and makes the voices of others impossible to hear sometimes.
if you want to be a champion of non-stigma, all you need to do is listen. and listening means knowing what you can't hear alone.  because the damage that is done by the words we string together about greed, attention, neediness, and weakness is not just that it's wrong.  it's bullshit. it's bullshit because it stops the conversation with words that don't fit at all, and diminishes something so deeply personal into something so minuscule.  so there it is.  i call bullshit.  if you joke about slitting your wrists, cutting yourself, or talk about someone who is emo for those reasons, i will call bullshit.  because people deserve more than that.  i don't want scars to be jokes.

post-script: this is mostly based on the campaign by partners for mental health, let's call bulls#!t.  you should check it out. there are some really striking words on their wall.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Meaggy! There is a lot of key messages that you hit the nail on the head with. Keep up the good writing.

    Also wanted to commend you that you have not Self Injured since June- this is no little feat! This is a huge success. Continue fight the urges. Urges may not ever go away but they will get less and less persistent as time goes on. How do I know? Its because I have 5 years under me and know that Recovery IS Possible.

    Hugs to you.


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