4.2.07

Cutting

The reason I'm posting on this subject is that I'm a cutter. Well, I burn myself with a red hot knife, so I suppose that's burning/cutting. Regardless, it's self-mutilation and it's not a healthy behavior. The last time I cut/burned myself was over the Holidays. I haven't since, but God, I've wanted to. You know those little tapes you create in your head that speak to you and tell you to "just do it" or "you'll feel so much better". One part of my brain believes that "feel better" stuff, but the other part of me knows it's bullshit. Sometimes the bullshit wins. Sometimes not. I'm trying really, really hard to not self-mutilate. I can't say it won't happen again, but I can say that right now and hopefully for the rest of the day and night, it won't happen. I don't know about y'all, but I have to take life minute-by-minute as it comes at me.

If anyone reads this and is a cutter, burner or you do any other kind of self-mutilation, please take advantage of the links I put at the bottom of this post.

From the National Mental Health Association:

Self-Injury

Self-Injury is also termed self-mutilation, self-harm or self-abuse. The behavior is defined as the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of one’s self. Self-injury includes: 1) cutting, 2) scratching,
3) picking scabs or interfering with wound healing, 4) burning, 5) punching self or objects, 6) infecting oneself, 7) inserting objects in body openings, 8) bruising or breaking bones, 9) some forms of hair-pulling, as well as other various forms of bodily harm. These behaviors, which pose serious risks, may by symptoms of a mental health problem that can be treated.

* Warning Signs. Warning signs that someone is injuring themselves include: unexplained frequent injury including cuts and burns, wearing long pants and sleeves in warm weather, low self-esteem, difficulty handling feelings, relationship problems, and poor functioning at work, school or home.

* Incidence & onset. Experts estimate the incidence of habitual self-injurers is nearly 1% of the population, with a higher proportion of females than males. The typical onset of self-harming acts is at puberty. The behaviors often last 5-10 years but can persist much longer without appropriate treatment.

* Background of self-injurers. Though not exclusively, the person seeking treatment is usually from a middle to upper class background, of average to high intelligence, and has low self-esteem. Nearly 50% report physical and/or sexual abuse during his or her childhood. Many report (as high as 90%), that they were discouraged from expressing emotions, particularly anger and sadness.

* Behavior patterns. Many who self-harm use multiple methods. Cutting arms or legs is the most common practice. Self-injurers may attempt to conceal the resultant scarring with clothing, and if discovered, often make excuses as to how an injury happened.

* Reasons for behaviors. Self-injurers commonly report they feel empty inside, over or under stimulated, unable to express their feelings, lonely, not understood by others and fearful of intimate relationships and adult responsibilities. Self-injury is their way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings, and is generally not a suicide attempt. But relief is temporary, and a self-destructive cycle often develops without proper treatment.

* Dangers. Self-injurers often become desperate about their lack of self-control and the addictive-like nature of their acts, which may lead them to true suicide attempts. The self-injury behaviors may also cause more harm than intended, which could result in medical complications or death. Eating disorders and alcohol or substance abuse intensify the threats to the individual’s overall health and quality of life.

* Diagnoses. The diagnosis for someone who self-injures can only be determined by a licensed psychiatric professional. Self-harm behavior can be a symptom of several psychiatric illnesses: Personality Disorders (esp. Borderline Personality Disorder); Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression); Major Depression; Anxiety Disorders (esp. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder); as well as psychoses such as Schizophrenia.

* Evaluation. If someone displays the signs and symptoms of self-injury, a mental health professional with self-injury expertise should be consulted. An evaluation or assessment is the first step, followed by a recommended course of treatment to prevent the self-destructive cycle from continuing.

* Treatment. Self-injury treatment options include outpatient therapy, partial (6-12 hours a day) and inpatient hospitalization. When the behaviors interfere with daily living, such as employment and relationships, and are health or life-threatening, a specialized self-injury hospital program with an experienced staff is recommended.

The effective treatment of self-injury is most often a combination of medication, cognitive/behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy, supplemented by other treatment services as needed. Medication is often useful in the management of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and the racing thoughts that may accompany self-injury. Cognitive/behavioral therapy helps individuals understand and manage their destructive thoughts and behaviors. Contracts, journals, and behavior logs are useful tools for regaining self-control. Interpersonal therapy assists individuals in gaining insight and skills for the development and maintenance of relationships. Services for eating disorders, alcohol/substance abuse, trauma abuse, and family therapy should be readily available and integrated into treatment, depending on individual needs.

In addition to the above, successful courses of treatment are marked by 1) patients who are actively involved in and committed to their treatment, 2) aftercare plans with support for the patient’s new self-management skills and behaviors, and 3) collaboration with referring and other involved professionals.

For More Information:
Contact you local Mental Health Association, community mental health center, or:

National Mental Health Association
2000 N. Beauregard Street, 6th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone 703/684-7722
Fax 703/684-5968
Mental Health Resource Center 800/969-NMHA
TTY Line 800/433-5959

S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Self-Abuse Finally Ends)
7115 W. North Avenue
Suite 319
Oak Park, IL 60302
Information line: 800-DON’T CUT (800-366-8288)
S.A.F.E Alternatives

More

Find Treatment
Find A Therapist
Find A Support Group
Find An Affiliate of the National Mental Health Association
Medication Info
Help Paying For Prescriptions
Dissatisfied With Treatment?
Medicare Part D Info




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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i too burn myself by heating up metal objects etc. i haven't done it in a few months, but the craving to do so has only gotten stronger. i really don't know what's keeping me from doing it... maybe it's that my thoughts have shifted to suicide. burning is something i wish i never started. it started because i was so frusterated and angry that i could have really hurt a couple of people and instead i took it out on myself. now i crave the feeling not only of the burning but of the relief that comes from it. i've been seeing a psychologist to work through a lot of this. i'm at a point now where i should probably be on medication, however there is something about that that freaks me out. i wish it didn't, but it does. looking at the scars on my arms now only makes me want to do it more. i'm also amazed by how little people in my life care. i'm not saying i'm not loved, but they try to push the knowledge of what i do out of their heads because they can't handle it, so the things that i need to change that are beyond my control are ignored and i'm the one that needs to change. i'm sure you don't really care about own shit, but best of luck getting away from that.

April 05, 2007 5:40 PM  
Blogger Vanessa Vega said...

I have struggled with self-injury for more than 30 years. I never imagined that there would be a time in my life when I didn't cut or try to break my own bones. And yet, after many months of intensive therapy, I have come to understand some of the root causes of my behavior. As a result, I have just celebrated my first year of being injury free! I want people who are struggling to have hope. The road to recovery is long, but worth it. I have learned so much about myself and why I am the way that I am. I never thought anyone could understand the amount of emotional (and subsequent physical) pain I was in. How wrong I was! There are millions of people who self-injure, yet few are willing to talk about it. I am working to change that with the hope that some of the shame associated with this disorder will be taken away. I have a blog that talks about self-injury and eating disorder issues. I would love to have visitors and comments.
http: comes_the_light.livejournal.com

May 24, 2007 6:36 PM  

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