Because she was lonely. And desperate. And sad. And easily insulted.
She wanted to cut herself. She longed to sink a razor into her flesh and distract her pain gauge from her emotional pain to focus on her physical pain. She wanted to see blood. She wanted proof that she was hurting. There was very little stopping her from doing this. Perhaps, because she knew that once she started she might not stop. Not until she slit her wrists in half and bled out. Then she could find her never-ending, peaceful unconsciousness.
-Excerpt from Portrait (2006)
I can’t explain it to you in any what it would make sense. It’s basically impossible. The best sentences that I could construct would only confuse and upset readers. The only people who would find themselves agreeing with me have lived it themselves and really don’t need me reiterating the illness in their brains to them.
There’s really no way to justify when your own evolutionary survival instinct is completely ignored and your only thought is utter self-destruction. Your body works hard to keep you alive. It really does. But sometimes the brain decides that it knows best. And it needs to see blood.
The word “impulse” seems too soft to describe the need to carve into your own skin. It starts as an idea, just an innocent thought. But once it pops into your head, no amount of logic, will power, or disbelief will keep it at bay. Once it’s there, it must be attended to.
Then there’s the relief after you do it. The wave of calm and satisfaction is overwhelming. You simply feel so much better that not doing it again is no longer an option. You would never deny yourself the intense peace that follows self mutilation.
I once had a doctor tell me that self harm was a maladaptive behavior. As if I wasn’t already aware of that. As if that hadn’t been the one thought that I had been thinking ever since the need to cut myself appeared. I almost laughed after he said it. It seemed so fucking obvious and an unintelligent thing to say. I knew this wasn’t good for me. That was no mystery. I did it because there was no way to stop myself from doing it. I didn’t put a blade to my arm because I thought I was adequately coping with my illness.
So I can’t explain it. I really can’t. I have tried very hard and so have many others. But being able to inject logic into mental illness is not something that really can be done. Occasionally you can make sense of something, but only if you suspend all rules of common sense and natural law. And doing that is itself sometimes incredibly difficult to imagine. In the end, it seems quite impossible to understand unless you have already lived it. And if you have, you don’t need me to tell you what it’s like.