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How I Stopped Cutting
Anonymous
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The shouting contest between my mother and sister felt endless. I sat on the bathroom floor, both of my hands covering my ears to muffle their voices. This had been going on for months. I felt like I was suffocating.

Hot, bitter tears fell down my cheeks.

“Stop crying, you big baby. Stop being so weak,” I told myself as I wiped away my tears. It felt exhausting crying over the same problems day after day.

Without thinking I grabbed my father’s razor from the sink and placed it on my wrist. I closed my eyes tightly and cut my skin. The tingling lasted for a few seconds and introduced this new, satisfying feeling. I felt a sense of release as the blood came out. When the feeling disappeared, I grabbed the razor and did it again.

“What have I done?” I thought to myself after the third wave of excitement culminated. I threw the razor back on the sink and took a step back. I began to panic thinking someone in my family or at school would see the three cuts on my wrist.

Quickly, I turned the sink on and placed my wrist under the running water. I grabbed toilet paper and applied pressure to stop the bleeding. When it stopped, I went to my room and put on a sweater. I wanted to hide the fresh cuts so no one would see and think I was crazy.

Too Much Stress

I continued cutting for that whole 7th grade year, although I tried hard to stop. The habit started when I was put in the middle of a conflict between my older sister and mother. My mother had forbidden my sister from seeing her boyfriend, who was abusive. But my sister would tell my mom she was taking me out and then go see him. I was forced to lie to my mother, and that stressed me out.

But that wasn’t all. I thought school would be a safe place for me to escape the toxic environment of my home. Instead, I was constantly bullied about my physical appearance. Every day I would hear comments like, “huge thighs,” “chubby bunny,” “four eyes,” “ugly,” and “fat.” It started with one person teasing me and rapidly grew into a group.

I wanted the bullying to end so I tried hard to blend in. I bought accessories that were trending, like flower crowns, cool jewelry, and knee socks. Instead, my plan backfired, because it gave the kids more reasons to tease me. “Do you see what she’s wearing? She tries so hard.”

I was afraid if I told my family what was going on in school they would go to the dean’s office and demand that something be done. I thought snitching to teachers would only make things worse, so I kept my mouth shut. And I kept cutting.

Finally, I graduated from middle school. I was so happy. I wouldn’t have to see the group of girls who bullied me ever again. High school was going to be my fresh start to meet new people.

During the summer I went to my best friend Kara’s house a lot to escape the fighting between my mother and sister. I stayed there for as long as I could and surrounded myself with her love. I didn’t pick up the razor and didn’t even have thoughts about cutting myself.

Feeling Out of Control

My first year of high school was OK and I didn’t feel like I needed to cut. But in the middle of sophomore year, things got bad again. I lost most of my friends due to an argument in which I was expected to take sides and didn’t. And my mom and my sister were still fighting. I felt like everything was crashing down and I couldn’t control anything. I was surrounded by negativity, which caused me to self-harm again. To hide my secret from my mother, I began to cut my thighs.

image by YC-Art Dept

Eventually, my mother and sister found out what I was doing. I told them that it was partly due to their fighting and feeling like I was in the middle. They agreed to deal with the problem without involving me and to stop fighting while I was around.

My mom did her best to help me quit. Every day I had to tell her how I was feeling and if I’d had urges to cut myself and why. She wanted me to go to a therapist, but I didn’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger. At first, I thought sharing my feelings with her was helping, but it eventually became annoying. It became exhausting answering the same questions over and over again.

I began lying to her by telling her I was fine and wasn’t cutting. I tried my best to quit not just for me but so my mother would stop worrying about me. But it became an addiction. I craved the feeling. It drove me nuts whenever I couldn’t find anything sharp in the bathroom. Whenever I missed the feeling my leg would start to shake uncontrollably and I would start biting my nails. I would remove the blade from the pencil sharper and wait for moments when I was alone.

I kept cutting behind my mother’s back. I felt bad that she believed I was recovering.

My Way to Recovery

One day when my mom came home from work she entered my room. I saw she had a shopping bag in her hand.

“I bought you a cute skirt, try it on.” My mom handed me the skirt and waited. I tried going to the bathroom to change but she stopped me.

“No, change here. I can’t wait to see how it fits you.”

I began to panic; I realized she wasn’t going to leave without seeing the skirt on me. As I undressed, she saw the cuts.

“What am I doing wrong? Why can’t you stop hurting yourself?” She began to cry.

I felt ashamed. It broke my heart to see her cry.

“You’re not doing anything wrong. But asking the same questions over and over again isn’t going to help me. I need space.”

After that, my mom switched things up. She stopped bugging me and gave me a journal so I could express my emotions in writing without having to verbalize them to her. She also signed me up for boxing classes to help me release my feelings that way.

These two strategies really help me. I’ve gone for seven months now without cutting and I don’t struggle as much. My mom also gave me a rubber band so whenever I feel the urge to cut, I stretch out the rubber band and release it to snap against my skin. (It was my older brother who suggested the idea to my mother. He’d heard from a guidance counselor that this method helps people resist the urges, and it does.) I still journal when something’s weighing on me. I belong to a gym that has both boxing and treadmill classes, and I go twice a week.

Looking back, I question why I didn’t seek help. Part of it was that I didn’t want people to think I was crazy. I also didn’t want to believe that I had a problem and I knew speaking up about it would make it real. But now I know there are some situations where a person needs help.

I’ve also decided to see a therapist. I’m learning to understand my feelings and not keep them inside. I still have scars on my thighs, but they are healing. When I see that, it’s a positive reminder that I am healing on the inside too.

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(NYC-2017-05-16)

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