So someone has declared today Self Injury Awareness Day.  So, yeah.  Be aware.

SI isn’t the dirty little secret it once was. I see it referenced frequently in TV shows lately. So probably none of this needs to be said – especially considering my audience. But for the record: if you hurt yourself, you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy.

Chances are if you don’t do it someone you know does it, and it behooves you to educate yourself before you flip out at seeing their scars.

I’m a cutter, although I haven’t had the urge in a long time. For me it was a way to express and externalize pain when I was unable to cry. It was a coping mechanism. Less healthy than exercise, probably, but more healthy than alcohol or other drugs, IMHO.

The knee-jerk response that most people have when they confront self-injury is to try to get the self-injurer to stop. I don’t think that’s necessarily the most helpful reaction. Like any coping behaviour, it’s usually a symptom of deeper issues. As I said in someone else’s journal recently, unless it’s causing serious and irreversable physical damage, OR it’s chronic in the absence of transient outside stressors, then the cutting (or whatever) itself isn’t what needs to be addressed. When it’s in response to a stressful situation, I think it’s usually more productive to address the situation than the self-injury.

One thing you should never do is act like the self-injurer is nuts. Trust me, I speak from experience. It doesn’t help. And it’s not true, either. Self-harm is no more a crazy way to deal with pain than drowning it in booze, engaging in compulsive risky sex, obsessive workaholicism, abusive behaviour – all the “normal” ways people cope with emotional distress.

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  1. I’ve always thought of cutting as masochistic masturbation. In the BDSM world, people see it as ok for a top to cause pain to a bottom ….. well, what if one wants pain and has no one around who knows how to cause pain the right way? I’ve found some more accepted outlets lately. If I get too stressed out and need that physical release, I now have piercers who are willing to help out, I can do tension pulls or possibly even a suspension, or a scalpeling or a branding. But when they aren’t around or I’m not willing or able to let them into my own private world, then I’m left with handling it alone…. which may mean cutting. Luckily, from hanging out with piercers more often lately, has come the knowledge of how to *safely* take a scalpel to my own skin and I now realize that it’s a better idea to scar in patterns than randomly.
    If cutting/self injury weren’t so taboo, then maybe people could actually discuss it and maybe the 14 year old cutters out there would realize that they aren’t insane and may not be as *unhealthy* as others are making it seem.

  2. when people try to get me to stop scratching or picking, my brain interprets that as a challenge to see if I can do it without them noticing, and thus aggrivates the situation in a continuous cycle.

    If I know someone who is practicing self injury, and it is something I feel I can help with, I usually ask them to call me when they feel the urge and try to provide an open ear or whatever is needed (assuming the situation is appropriate).

    At any rate, I think you are right on the point that dealing with the situation causing the (dis)stress would be the ideal solution to the problem, provided there is a trigger to cause the injury infliction.

  3. I’m a piercer. . .not in the body piercing sense (though I like that too, but so little of it is really practical). I make patterns in my skin with sharp pointy things, then let them heal. I’ve done this since I was very young, and it never had anything to do with depression or anything. . .I just thought it was really cool, and it feels good to me sometimes.

    I never thought there was anything wrong with me. *shrug*

    1. “but so little of it is really practical”

      Is any body piercing really practical?

      1. Well, I guess what I meant is that I can’t get a job as a teacher or elected to the state legislature with a nose ring, for example. Or I can’t breastfeed with nipple rings. That sort of thing. I guess none of it is practical as much as so much of it is impractical. I have a navel piercing and I love it and would love to get something else pierced, but there’s nowhere else that wouldn’t be impractical for me.

        1. That’s my problem with peircings as well, a belly ring doesn’t really appeal to me and having any visible, alternative peircings is frowned upon in nursing.

        2. Actually, you can breast feed with pierced nipples. All you have to do is remove the jewelry so the child doesn’t choke on it if it falls out. (I am a body piercer, in case you were curious about my credentials.)

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