Cut to the quick – Criteria 5 / Self Mutilating behavior

Another hallmark of the Borderline personality is Self Harm.
Criteria  5: recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
People don’t understand cutting, self harm. It’s almost always met with expressions of repulsion or revulsion. “Only whiny emo kids need to do that for attention.” Or “Why would you hurt yourself!?!”. It creates disgust or something to look down on, fear or a scapegoat. This comes from people that have not taken the time to understand it. Once you unmask the monster, it begins to make more sense.

I stumbled upon cutting by accident. Well not completely an accident, but I didn’t know it was a thing, then. I was ready to commit suicide. Slit my wrists. I was testing the waters, to see how it felt.
I was 13.
It was then that I realized that this made me feel better, more alive. Hold to life harder. Not make me want to end it. At the time, I didn’t completely understand why, but it jolted me back to reality and grounded me. There are three primary reasons I self-injure. The first is most important so we’ll start there.
1.) To Remind me that I’m alive. 
— I look out for myself, unfortunately my subconscious is less than thrilled with me. Self harm reminds me that I am alive when I otherwise feel like I am not attached to anything. When I dissociate, I could be walking along a road, stumble in front of a car and part of my brain would think it unnecessary to jump out of the way b/c I feel so far removed from my own sense of Self.
My dissociative disorder is a way to deaden my nerves to such things as past abuse. It’s a defense mechanism against emotional trauma. Unfortunately it is not selective and now takes over during my day to day more than just for specific harmful interactions. I’m not necessarily unhappy about this. I do still connect with the rare good people I have in my life, but I often lose that feeling of connection. When I am unconnected I am left with something of a cold rationale, logic. I’ve learned to utilize my disorder to my benefit, but as a result it leaves my life a very dreary place and me numb to the world around me. Feeling nothing.
To see my blood flowing, hot and thick, reminds me that I’m alive. The sharp wounding a reminder that there is something left to feel. Extreme forms of physical sensation bring me down to earth, back into myself and I remember that I am fully alive in the now. So in a sense, my self injury is helping me look out for myself. Keep me alive. 
My Self harm counterbalances my Dissociative disorder, now. I don’t know if I’ve always had a dissociative disorder as it’s a recent diagnosis, but I do know that I’ve always felt separated, other.  
2.) Punishment, for when I believe I’ve done something wrong, or not well enough.
— I have to be perfect. Everything I do must be done right. And I do a lot of things at one time. Things are very time dependent and synced to provide the perfect outcome.
What’s funny is, I don’t actually believe in the concept of perfection. The concept of Perfection to me is also a concept of Stagnation. A point where there can be no further growth or progress.
Cutting to punish myself, helps push myself, to keep me striving to do better because what I just did was not as good as it could be.
3.) Controllable Pain.
— This may be more a result than a reason but it is worth including. It’s also a pain that can be controlled. When everything surrounding you seems to hurt (emotionally, mentally) beyond your ability to influence, cutting is a pain that is manageable. Provides control.  Welcome to an aspect of Self Harm that most people don’t understand. Self harm is a physical (outer) representation of emotional/mental (inner) pain. As the physical wounds heal, so the psyche represents the mind healing, the real inner wound heals. It’s a process I can see, touch and feel. Know that something is healing the way it should and that there is hope that other things will be able to heal as they should.  
As for my self-injury I appreciate many forms. I cut, I burn, I fight, I scratch. Fighting is probably my favorite (as in mixed martial arts, not petty arguments with people). I walk away covered head to toe in bruises. I’ve used oven racks and irons to burn. I do prefer cutting most though. I have two pocket knives of significant sentimental value. What many find surprising is I’ve never used razors. Scissors and broken mirrors I will use if I have nothing else, but never such a traditional tool as a razor.
I don’t do it so often anymore, only during times of extreme stress, but that’s still more often than most people think is healthy. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as it helps me. You can tell me it’s fucked up all you want, but I do what I need to do.
I feel strong again for enduring the trial. Having deadened the nerves to things that might otherwise hurt and filling in the cracks of my mental armor with blood and scar tissue. Sometimes I feel like I am clad in full platemail. Other times it’s like I’m walking beneath an icy sky, bare.

2 comments on “Cut to the quick – Criteria 5 / Self Mutilating behavior

  1. Your blog is interesting.Years ago I did a whole entry on this topic of self-mutilation & can identify with just about everything you write here.I have always perceived two sides to sm. The spiritual & the physical. Spiritually, when emotional pain is too uncomfortable and terrifying to deal with, the physically pain becomes a salve, a distraction that can be seen, touched, and examined. You can literally see the wound as well as the source of your pain. It is precise, has an exact location. And can be quite facinating even to watch the scars heal up. You're getting better, your body is doing what it's suppposed to do for once.And this is phenominally better than the alternative: emotional pain. Which seems to come at you from all sides, is insidious, slippery, and you cannot find the source to eradicate it. The origin seems to be an endless pit of rage, pain, tears. And you feel as though you will drown in it all. An emotional hemophiliac, bleeding to death. And so the sm is grounding and soothing, something that can be dealt with.But on the physical side, I find that something much less romantic is occuring. When you self mutilate, your body simply releases endorphins that manage the physical pain. It makes you feel good, which is a tremendous reinforcer when you emotionally feel so terrible. It's similar to why people turn to alcohol or drugs during times of distress. But with people like us, we need an obvious and tangible connection to our pain in order to make it real.Especially since so much of ourselves feel so very transient to begin with.Great blog.

  2. I agree with you completely. It's nice to know there are other people out there that understand. I'll be writing more on this subject over the next few days too. And Thank you!

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