It’s summertime: time to break out the tank tops and shorts! I stand apprehensive at my closet, looking in. My heart thuds, sending my blood pulsing to the scars I so desperately try to hide on my legs. I’ve never worn “short shorts” before. My standard has always been that my shorts have to be knee length. I’d try to brush it off as an attempt at modesty, but I knew the truth. If my shorts are any shorter than my knees, people can see my scars.
I was fourteen when I first cut myself. I had no idea what I was doing, my only goal was to relieve the pain I felt inside. High school was incredibly hard for me; I had no other way to cope except to cut myself. I cut myself for two years, hiding it the whole time, not realizing the damage I was doing.
What I know now that I wish I knew then?
Cutting might relieve the stress of the situation for a moment, but the scars last a lifetime. This fact never donned on 14-year-old me. I never thought that in the future it would be awkward to wear shorts. I never realized I would be embarrassed over my wrist scars, feeling the need to hide them with bracelets. I can look back on my scars and remember that as I made them I would find “sweet relief,” but it would only last a second. It was not worth damaging my skin or self-esteem.
Taking out anger and frustration by self-mutilating will not stop the feelings from being there. Try as hard as I might, I could not get the fear and rage to leave my body. It did not matter how many cuts I made; it was always lingering underneath my skin. That only propelled me more into frustration, causing me to cut more. It was a vicious cycle that seemed to have no end.
I wish I had known to tell someone. Help is achievable. You are worth it. I could have saved myself lots of heartache had I trusted someone enough to tell. There are so many different ways to express anger and sadness (that I have learned now): Listening to music, going for a walk or a bike ride, baking a cake, chatting with a friend. You don’t have to harm yourself to make yourself feel better. The truth? In the end you will only feel worse if you harm yourself. It will feel hard finding someone to confide in. Tell a responsible adult that you are close to. Tell someone.
You are not alone. I felt alone the two years I cut. I felt that I was a freak and that no one could possibly understand my pain. The truth is that a lot of people feel this way. One study showed that one in 200 girls in America (between the ages of 13-19) cut themselves.
Cutting is different for everybody. People cut for different reasons and in different ways. The common denominator with cutting is that a deeper problem lies underneath. There is no such thing as “just experimenting” with cutting. Cutting isn’t a laughing or joking matter. It is serious and should be taken so.