W6 (Who, What, Where, When, Why, Walking-in-their-shoes)
>Who: Virtually anyone has the potential to become a cutter. There’s no age limit, gender requirements, or race restrictions. However, people who are under large amounts of stress are more susceptible, and girls tend to make up the majority of cutters.
>What: A cutter is someone who uses a sharp object, usually a knife or razor blade, to cut or scratch their body. At first, it may start off being infrequent and not seeming to be very dangerous. Unfortunately, however, it is a problem that only escalates.
At first, it may start out being something the person does maybe once or twice a month and only causing minimal injury; but it can quickly become several times a weeks and causing serious injuries with lasting scars. It can move from a concealed part of a leg or arm to a wrist. There may only be a few pinpricks of blood when a cutter is new, but as time goes on, you begin wanting more and more, and you’re eventually leaving gaping wounds streaming blood. In short, cutting is a deceptively slow yet addictive self-destruction.
>When: It may begin as following through on a seemingly innocent impulse. Usually, it’s done when the cutter is in a stressful situation and desires a way to block out whatever it is they’re having trouble dealing with. In some cases, a cutter may feel that cutting is the only way to get the attention they’re craving, or the only way they can freely express their emotions. Cutting is done whenever a cutter feels an urge strong enough to compel them to cut, although some may prefer nighttime, due to the fact that they’re less likely to be disturbed by anyone.
>Where: You can find cutters around the world, but statistically, there are larger numbers in the USA than anywhere else. Usually, a cutter will seek out a secluded place where they have no fear of being discovered. A bathroom is a prime choice because you can wash away blood much more easily without fearing someone will see your freshly bleeding wounds. A bedroom with a locked door is also a top pick. It’s their territory, and they feel they have more control over it. However, if they have to share the room, they will probably avoid using the room to avoid their roommate accidentally witnessing.
>Why: Feelings of loneliness and distress will push a person into cutting. If you’re in pain, and a doctor offers you a pain pill, wouldn’t you take it? The pill will only mask your pain of course; it won’t heal you, but you just want the pain to go away. Cutting can work in a similar way to get rid of mental pain. Physical pain, cutting, helps us to lose focus on the mental pains and issues that we’re facing. It doesn’t last long, but just like the pill, it masks the pain we wish to forget.
Unfortunately, also like the pill, cutting can become addictive. It becomes how the cutter handles strong emotions – even happiness at times, if you can believe that. When they don’t have a knife or something to cuts themselves with, they don’t really know how else to convey the emotions that they’re feeling. That’s why it’s so hard for them to just stop. A cutter has to relearn something that most people take for granted – self-expression.
Finally, hopelessness can rope them in. They can’t just stop, and they know it. They try over and over, but they fail. They’ve lost control, and they’ve resigned themselves to the belief that they can never stop, and that they’re wholly worthless after what they’ve done to themselves. After all, who could ever possibly love someone who was so messed up?
Walking in their shoes…
This could get kind of scary if I get it right, but I think you ought to give it a try. It may help you better understand a cutter and help you to relate to them.
Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose. You can smell it – the sickeningly sweet, somehow metallic, coppery scent of blood. You know that smell so well now. It fills you with both excitement and fear. You open your eyes and look down at your arm. In the dim light of your bedroom lamp, you see a line of fresh blood seeping from the wound you just made. God knows how many times you sliced that same spot over and over until it had reached this point. Absently, you wondered why you had, but you don’t dwell long because you can’t, the pain is wearing off.
Again you take up your razor blade and dig it into your arm, slowly, painfully dragging it across your flesh. It hurts, but that’s what you love so much about it isn’t it? The sweet release of all you’re worried about. Right now, nothing matters. Except for the slices in your arms, you can’t feel a blessed thing. It’s wonderful in a rather twisted way, you admit to yourself.
As if in a trance, you watch the blood begin to rise up and out of the cut. You can’t look away from it. You’re sickly fascinated by it. You love the sight of it, though you can’t quite say why. Maybe because it tells you you’re still alive? Maybe it’s because it’s so real? Heck, it could be because you like the color for all you know! You just know that somehow, you can never seem to get enough seeing it.
You slice yourself several more times, being careful to put most of them in easily concealed places. Not like your parents would care of course, you think with a bitter, inward laugh. They might as well be blind. They’ll believe anything you say about where those cuts came from, no matter how absurd or unrealistic. Why? Because their brains simply won’t allow them to register the truth, plain and simple.
Then, your knife slips slightly too deep while dancing across those fragile blue veins in your wrist. Your heart stops as you watch blood rapidly welling up, coming more quickly than you’d intended. Panicking, you snatch up a tissue from nearby and press it to your wound. You hadn’t meant for it to go that deeply, but that was the problem with cutting your wrists. They offered you more and quicker blood, but press a little too hard and you could regret it.
The bleeding slows and you lean back into the pillows on your bed, close your eyes yet again, and feel the cool run of your own blood running down your arms from the cuts. You toss the blade into the trash. It served its purpose. With relief, you welcome the familiar numbness that seeps over you. You’re just barely aware of the pain in your arms, but mostly, you just don’t feel anything. It’s a good non-feeling.
The high quickly wears off however. Reality sets in. Your mind clears and you realize what you’ve done…again. Last time you’d sworn you wouldn’t ever do it again, but once again, you just couldn’t stop yourself. Once again, as you wash your stinging wounds, you vow to never cut yourself ever again.
Fast forward four days…
Tears rush from your eyes and you desperately clutch a cloth to your arm, willing with all your might for the bleeding to stop. You inwardly curse yourself. Why are you so weak? Why couldn’t you have stopped like you’d planned to do all along?
For the next couple weeks you wash and care for your wound, praying that it won’t become infected, and wishing you could go to the hospital to get stitches, the scar from this one was going to horrid. If only you’d never picked up a blade to cut yourself in the first place.
I wish I could’ve given you a better picture of it all. The feelings, the smells, everything. I’m capable of it, but I can’t do it. I’ve gone more in depth, reliving actual cutting “sessions” before. The result was an effect description. But reliving those moments is something that is simply not safe for me to do. It’s been half a year since I last cut, but the memories are far too powerful, and more than once, reliving those times has resulted in a literal bloody mess.
I don’t know if I can ever fully relate how hopeless and shatter a cutter’s life can be. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It’s a self-imposed destruction from the inside out. It leaves you as a shadow; only a faint glimmer of what and who you once were, and you will never be the same as you were before it all.
“You are the children of the lord your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead.”
-Deuteronomy 14:1 (NIV)
That’s a pretty clear statement, right? That was what God told the Israelites in the Old Testament. Now, personally, I hold a belief that not necessarily everything in the Old Testament applies to us, based on this verse:
“By calling the covenant ‘new’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”
-Hebrews 8:13 (NIV)
I take that to mean that God used Christ to make His covenant with Israel obsolete, and set up a “new” covenant in the New Testament, not just with Israel , but with all people. So I tend to look for confirmation about things in the Old Testament in the New Testament, because not everything that applied to the Israelites applies to us today (clean and unclean food for instance). So here’s what the New Testament has to offer us:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”
-1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Although these verses can be comforting to those who are suffering bodily harm at the hands of another, it’s far more sobering to a cutter. It’s very clear that our bodies’ are God’s and we shouldn’t mistreat them, and that includes cutting ourselves. Maybe the order isn’t quite so plainly put, but it remains the same as from the Old Testament: cutting is a no-no.
Getting help to stop is a must for a cutter, but that doesn’t mean that friends should shove that help down their throats either. If you have a friend who cuts, my suggestion would be to be there for that person. Let them know they can count on you. Urge them to seek out help, but don’t in any way make them feel threatened. If they think you’ll tell others or try to force them into stopping, they’ll retreat and block you out, and they’ll tell you lies to make you think they’re doing alright when they’re not.
If you are a cutter, or are involved in any form of self-harm, please, get help. You’ll probably regret telling someone eventually, but you really need someone to at least be able to talk to about things and to be there for you. It can be anyone as long as you trust them.
Issue’s Soundtrack (go to: projectplaylist.com to hear full songs)
1. Scars-Runaway City
2. When She Cries-Brit Nicole
3. Dear X (You Don’t Own Me)-Disciple
4. Moving On- Decyfer Down
5. Missing Pages-Seventh Day Slumber
6. Fading-Decyfer Down
7. What I’ve Overcome-Fireflight
8. Beautiful Tonight-Krystal Meyers
9. Hanging On by a Thread-The Letter Black
10. Silent Screams-Eowyn
11. The Motions-Matthew West
12. Secrets and Regrets-Pillar
13. Never Surrender-Skillet
14. Lose it all-Pillar
15. Carousel-Linkin Park
18. Get Back Up (TobyMac)
19. To Know That You’re Alive-Kutless