I wanted to address something really important with this post, but I don’t know how. It's a tough subject. I want to address the question, “What is self-injury?” and all the details that encompasses. As I’ve thought about it trying to tackle the question, the only way I've come up with to really do it justice is to add two words to the end- “What is self-injury to me?” Because if you wanted, you could just go read a textbook and get clinical definitions. But you’re here, so instead of boring you with dry factoids about endorphin release, I’ll bore you with my own personal experiences and opinions.
So what is self-injury to me? For me, it’s a way to turn off all the noise. When life gets too loud and I’m just feeling too much all at once, sometimes I hurt myself (though I wish I could always refer to my self-injury in the past tense, it has yet to stay there for more than three years at a time- psychologically it’s easier to keep it at bay if I’m not concentrating so hard on confining it to a single tense). It just shuts everything up so I can breathe again. It’s like in the movies when someone is hysterical and they get slapped in the face and calm down. Sort of. It just snaps things back into perspective. Or more often just makes the crap go away so I don’t have to deal with it at all. At least for a few minutes. Not particularly healthy, especially in the long run, but effective in moments of crisis.
It’s also a way to address nebulous, overwhelming emotional pain in a concrete manner. I know what to do to heal a skin-deep cut. I have no idea how to heal soul-deep wounds. This part of the equation isn’t particularly concrete. It’s more a subconscious thing that I’ve realized over the years. I’ve got to figure out some way or another to take care of myself, and since I can’t seem to address the one thing, I create something I can address. Yes, I fully realize how screwed up that is.
It’s NOT a suicide attempt. It’s a way to avoid suicide. It’s a way to address problems before they get to a point where I really truly can’t deal with them anymore. When I can feel suicide barreling down the track straight for me, self-injury gets me clear of the track and disaster is averted.
It IS a scary thing. And part of the reason it’s scary to me is that it’s not scary. It seems like a perfectly logical response. And so I have to fight it. And each time I feel the impulse, I have to think really really hard to figure out something else to do instead. Sometimes I think hard enough, sometimes I don’t. So far 2012 is a good year. But a lot can change in a day. For now, I’ll keep on fighting when I can and hiding when I can’t and hope to always have strength to wake up in the morning.