My Self-harm Impulse


Yesterday I was told by my ex, who I thought I was very close to as we went back to being friends, something that made me lose my temper. I raged down the phone for almost forty minutes while she told me she could only apologise, which was only making me angrier. After the phone call it took me a long time to compose myself and I was struggling to get anything done. I couldn’t stop getting flashes of anger and sadness and I couldn’t ignore the messages and the impulses throbbing in my head. You’re miserable, you’re lonely, you do nothing, hurt yourself, hurt her, break something, scream, cut yourself, kill yourself; I have heard them all before and sadly I have listened to them before. When those sorts of impulses are ringing at me, I cannot ignore them.  I have heard them while wearing my human mask (nice plug) during family meals, during nights out, while I am doing daily chores, and when I am trying to enjoy anything.

Worst of all I hear them when I am alone, and last night wasn’t any different. I couldn’t go to sleep without my brain trying to figure out what to do. I could not process or understand the news at all. I couldn’t close my eyes without wanting to hurt myself or someone else. I needed something to ease the pain of my reaction to the news. I needed something to distract the hatred I am uncomfortable with and that I want to refuse is part of me. But of course it’s part of me. I cannot feel anybody else’s emotions first-hand, so why would the anger and hatred I feel inside me be any different? I needed pain. I’ve resorted to cutting myself before when I was in university. I have only done it once and I am absolutely shocked as to how easily I managed to do it.

I was meant to be enjoying a night out with my flatmates. We had played a few drinking games and had a few laughs as we went on our way to the seafront. I got incredibly drunk, and found myself leaving the club early and heading home. In the darkness of the empty streets I knew what I wanted to do. Looking back at that night it’s like I always knew what I was going to end up doing, I was just fooling myself that I wouldn’t do it by using reality as a shield. It came so naturally to me to find a knife in the kitchen and slice away at my arm. I think the reason the pain felt so good is because it was the pain I had been feeling for years, and it was finally leaving my body in the form of blood running into the kitchen sink. It surprised me that I didn’t initially feel any pain. I felt pure relief in the emptiness of the moment. I knew if I tried a bit harder that I could end it all. It might feel even better as I go on. It might feel like nothing, and then I can finally be nothing, I can make it all end.  I was so sad, and in a twisted sort of way I am feeling fondly reminiscent about it, especially because I am not in the best of moods right now. Upon reflection, I lied. That was not the only time I have done it, I had done it two years later.

After the first time I cut myself I told myself I never wanted to do it again. I woke up to sunlight beaming down on me through curtains that I hadn’t closed. For a few moments I was completely oblivious to how much blood was on my duvet and I was unaware of the cuts on my forearm until they started stinging. The stinging intensified as I realised what I had done. I felt so ashamed, I felt so disappointed, and I could only imagine what others would think of me once they realised. The whole idea of my human mask (ha) is that I could hide what I was really feeling. By masking the sadness, anger and self-hatred away I hoped I could at least have a relatively normal life. I could socialise, and make friends, and maintain relationships and do what normal people do. But by cutting myself I had done the exact opposite. I was vulnerable and the cuts were signals that something was up. I knew that once someone saw the scars they would only have questions or judgements for me. I had to hide it, and I managed to for a few days until I joined my flatmates for another night out.

The voices returned and I was scared. I might go all the way. I panicked and got one of my closest friends to come with me to the smoking area. I couldn’t get there in time and just flashed the still-drying cuts at her. In the flash of disco lights she saw something that made her cry. She blamed herself and I was surrounded by an immense feeling of guilt. I loved her; it wasn’t her fault at all. I did this to me.

I did it because I hated myself and I hated my life, not because I hated her or anyone else. I hated every dark and sad memory I had been through over the years and I hated how I had handled them at the time. I hated myself for not being ready for things that are impossible to prepare for. I hated how much I was living with pain for and I hated myself for not doing anything about it, and upon reflection of this whole ideal, I realise that one of the only few things I hate right now is that cutting myself was the first solution I could come up with. But that’s in the past. I stayed with her while she cried and I thought about what other people in my life would think. Oddly enough I didn’t think about my parents, I thought about my friends. Maybe that was because I was so worried about what people thought of me at the time. Maybe the thought of what my parents would think, especially my dad, would be unbearable. I assume my mum would have just been mad. Nursing my cuts was significantly more annoying than looking after a fresh tattoo, looking after a dislocated shoulder or recovering from a serious illness. Two weeks after I could feel the cuts throbbing and the shame and guilt would always follow.

I didn’t want to cut myself again because of what I had put my friend through. We kept it between ourselves and she supported me all the way. Sadly she was not there for the second time I cut myself, we had fallen out, and luckily for her she is unaware of how much I wanted to kill myself after we had our final conversation. I didn’t kill myself or cut myself for her, that’s what she would have wanted even if we were no longer on speaking terms.

The second time I cut myself was in very similar circumstances to last night. It was two years after the first time I had and I was in a much better place mentally. I was significantly happier and as far as I was aware the self-hatred was gone. My flatmate who was very close to me had hurt me with the words she had said to me. I trusted her but her misconceptions about depression and suicide hurt me, especially as my friend had killed himself a month before. I went into a rage without her ever knowing. I broke the blade off the razor I used to shave with and cut deep into my arm again. I was so angry I didn’t get the feeling of relief, I felt before. I got nothing and saw nothing apart from red. I woke up just as ashamed and guilty as before but I didn’t tell anybody.

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It felt good to write about what I’ve been hiding from so many people for so long. The truth I have managed to turn away from those draining thoughts by putting them to good use. When I feel low I try to draw, run, exercise and do whatever else I can do to put them behind me. I use them to motivate myself into doing things that will help me achieve the things I want to achieve. But sadly the truth is when I stop doing something, or I have no one to talk to, they always return. It frightens me because I am so young and I have a whole life to possibly hear those impulses again. I just have to make sure I don’t quit and do my best. I can only live one day at a time.

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