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I've always been a planner. I like knowing what I'm going to do in a given day, who I'm going to hang out with, where I'll be going, if I need to spend any money. One thing I've never been able to plan is self harm. It comes out of nowhere. I don't fit it into my schedule. I don't expect to do it any given day. I don't have specific days or times when I do it. It just happens. And that's what a lot of people don't understand.
I wish it could be planned. On Saturday night at 8 PM, I need someone to stop me from hurting myself. See? It's right there, in my Google Calendar. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. And I can't have people babysit me 24/7. I'm my own babysitter. I'm the one who has to stop myself.
But then there are times when I don't want to stop myself. I want to hurt myself. Self harm is so tricky, to say the least, because you want to hurt yourself in the moment. But then the aftermath hurts worse. People get upset that you hurt yourself. You have to hide your cuts and you're sorely reminded when they're bumped by a counter or a desk or a door. Even clothes. People are disgusted to look at the cuts. But nobody will ever be more disgusted with you... than you.
So why do it? If all of that is true, why continue to do it? That's the million dollar question, and if I had an answer, I don't think I'd ever harm myself again. (But truth be told, I'm writing this article because I'm trying to stop myself from cutting.) Some people harm for attention. They want people to notice that they're hurting and they want help. They simply don't know how to ask. I've definitely done this before. Truth be told, it's not always easier to ask for help. Some people harm to feel. They are so incredibly numb that they just want to feel something. Anything. Even if it's pain. I've also done this. There's honestly nothing more painful than being numb. People take feelings for granted; happiness, anger, even plain contentment. These are feelings some people would do anything to have in their system. Some people harm to gain control. This is my top reason for cutting. Nothing is going right and everything is just so goddamn stressful that the only way to find control, is to take it back. To cut through the chaos.
Self harm is incredibly isolating. It's a huge dirty secret that's scary to share with anyone. What will people think of me when they find out? Will they leave me? Will people still want to be my friends? It's hard to gage who will understand and who will walk away. Oftentimes, it's easier to just be silent than to gamble who will react which way.
Many people feel helpless and surprised when I tell them I've engaged in self harm. I'm a pretty bubbly, upbeat person. You don't expect it from me. But then again, who do you expect it from? Anyone can engage in self harm, and if you find out someone is hurting themselves, do what you can to be their ally. Let them know you're free to talk. Maybe you've gone through it, too. Maybe you haven't, but you still care and want to help. Whatever the situation, people are grateful when they have friends.
I still think about hurting myself on a daily basis. Some people do it once and never again. Some people are able to be sober for years. Some people, like me, struggle more heavily with it. However we struggle, no one's struggle is more or less valid than anyone else's. We all still need help. We all still need love.