This is going to be one helluva graphic entry and its not for the faint hearted. If you can't stand blood, gore, and filthy images. Please bail out now.
Lately I have been hearing stories of how people (usually girls) cut themselves when they are/were going through bouts of depression. The 'experts' call it self-harm, self-injury, or self-abuse, which also includes all sorts of other behaviour that inflict pain and damage serious enough to cause scarring on one's body. These are usually done to make oneself 'feel better'.
I first learnt about cutting when I was really young, probably about 13 or 14 years old. I read in the newspaper how two lesbian lovers from St Teresa's Secondary School carved each others name on their thighs with a pen knife. My reaction that time, predictably, was "Siao ah!".
I first saw the act of cutting when I watched Annabel Chong's documentary last year. Annabel Chong, after falling victim to gang rape in London, and after being screwed by 252 men* free of charge in breaking the Guinness Book of Records, we see her as a nervous wreck. (*clarification: 251 who did it physically, plus the one director who screwed her out of the US$12,000 appearance fee, which was supposed to be for her University tuition fees.) I watched, as Annabel Chong used a knife and slitted the anterior of her forearm on camera. "I feel numb. I just wanted to feel... something." she explained.
The act of cutting has often been misunderstood. "They're doing it just to seek attention lah!" "They must be crazy to cut themselves." I doubt cutting is attention-seeking, because most cutters hide their wounds by wearing love sleeve or cut themselves in places not normally seen, like on the thighs. And also, it turns out that cutting isn't something that only happens to crazy people. Lately, I have known perfectly sane people - people that I know personally - who cuts themselves as a way to cope with stress and depression. One described it as sad, yet beautiful in a way - beautiful because its something she can control, unlike her moods.
I don't exactly know what triggered their depression and motivated them to cut themselves. Abuse by loved ones in the past is most likely a significant factor. One theory was that they were beaten up or abused when they were young when they did something wrong, so it would almost be like they expected to be abused when something overwhelming goes wrong in their life, although it might be things that are not within their control. They cut themselves to be in control. Of course that's just generalising. There are teenagers who cut themselves simply because 'everyone else is doing it, like smoking'. They did it for social acceptance.
Some people grow out of it, like a temporary phase in life that when you matured and you just stopped doing it. Unfortunately some people don't. That's dangerous because people who cuts themselves are usually suicidal as well. I guess it is important that people seek help when they find themselves self-harming. Talking to a trusted person or a loved one about it seem to help, and seeking professional help from a psychiatrist should definitely be considered as well. Consider taking up a religion (no, not those satanic ones) and start reciting prayers because that seemed to have helped a lot of people. Cutting yourself is a behaviour that hurts not only yourself, but the people around you as well. They are hurt too when you put that knife to your arm. You have already been through so much, and you have been hurt so much - why inflict more pain on yourself and on the people around you? I do hope you look at life in the face, grabbing life by the balls and show them who's in control. And I wish you all the best in recovering.
The whole thing just make me cringe, yet I feel sorry for them. I wanted to help them but I do not know what to do. I tried to imagine myself back when I was 17 or 18, and the times before I met Nicole. I felt low because of a variety of reasons - I can't find acceptance within my group of friends, I felt the pressure of keeping up with my studies, I felt tied up by the lack of freedom given by my parents. I remembered my bouts of 'depression' if you want to call it that way, and the thought of cutting myself never even once went through my head. Yet I pulled it through. Everytime I feel low, I go to the gym with a stomach full of rage and anger, armed with earphones filled with pumping music, and then I just take it all out on the weights, go home to bed with an body overdosed with endorphins, and wake up the next day with sore muscles all over my body. So, I guess I was abusing myself in a way - except I was injuring my muscles instead of the surface of my skin. ;) Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger - that's true.
I'd like to hear from you. Have you ever cut yourself? If so, what was going through your mind when you do it? What triggered you to do it? If not, how did you cope with stress and depression when it hits you? Please leave comments, and remember that you may remain anonymous if you want. I would love to hear your side of the story.
I leave you with a quote, so gross yet so true, courtesy of the philosopher Kim. (That girl has been churning out quotes after quotes like Confucius.) Artwork by yours truly. Feel free to spread it around. :)