Earlier this month MHA directors were approached by a student who wished to be identified as ?Kiran from Chemical Engineering?. They sent us a story about their Mental Health journey, said story can be read below.
WARNING: this blog entry contains material that may be sensitive to some readers. If you are uncomfortable with reading about self harm, or seeing pictures of wounds, then we suggest you do not read this piece.
While the piece below talks about self harm by cutting, it?s important to remember that self harm comes in many forms. Self harm includes direct physical harm like cutting, banding, or bruising, but it was also includes other non-apparent and non-physical actions and effects like skipping meals, skipping sleep, or having self-destructive sexual relations.
I also wanted to take a moment to thank the submitter of the article for their bravery and willingness to share their story with us
Cutting; a word I don?t hear often anymore. Does anyone still do it? Often it would be heard that people suffering from depression would sometimes cut themselves, or burn themselves with a cigarette, or use other methods of physical pain to distract from mental pain.
Despite being physical, it is not always obvious if someone is hurting themselves as it can be done in clothed places, or can easily be lied about. At the end of the day, it?s still pain, so why do people resort to self harm?
Don?t be misled, cutting does hurt, but it doesn?t hurt as much as your heart does. When your head is in conflict; seeing that pain in a physical form is very relieving because it validates what you are feeling.
So it comes down to: Is it worth doing? I would heavily disagree.
When I initially started harming myself in grade 8, it seemed very harmless, and invisible to everyone. It was just another method to cope, and I was proud of all the lines I could make on my wrist.
Some people would see it and ask me to promise them to stop; but what did they know? They couldn?t understand how it felt to be me. But regardless I went through those years until I hit 1A. In 1A, I had a hard, hard time coping. The academic portion of my depression was due to the typical ?going from a high average to 70s?, and the fact that I relied on academics for my self-esteem. During 1A, I would sometimes cut with a blunt kitchen knife my mother gave me for cutting fruits, because I left my xacto knife at home.
Blunt knifes unfortunately require a lot more force and really wreck the skin preventing it from healing as easily. This fact becomes important because soon enough during the Winter Holidays, 2am at night, I saw my final grades and cut but this time with my xacto knife; using the same force I used with a blunt knife.
And guess what? I cut myself open. Blood splashed everywhere in a split second. I looked at my wrist to see my arteries and bone. To see your inner organs is terrifying. You kinda realize that you really are just flesh and bones.
I thought I cut off a flap of my skin. But later I found that I cut deep enough that the skin retracted back into a circular shaped open wound.
And so I quickly covered the wound with my right hand and squeezed hard to prevent blood loss. I ran to my parent?s bedroom, where I woke them up telling them ?I cut my wrist?.
Hours were spent waiting in the hospital where my parents cried, and had wondering eyes. I refused to talk to any of them. Soon a doctor came to stitch up my wound. The part that hit me the most of that hospital stay was when the nurse said ?You are lucky you didn?t cut deep enough, or you may have lost a nerve and lost function of your hand?.
Often times people who harm themselves don?t realize that their actions can have real consequences. Stupidly enough I never thought my skin was a layer that would retract if I cut deep enough. I guess I always thought of my arm as a solid whole, and my thinking was validated by the fact I never cut deep enough previous times to cause any harm. (This ignorance could also be due to the fact that I have never had any surgery.)
My hospital release wasn?t the last of my troubles, my wound still had to heal. I basically had to function for 2 months with just my right hand. Doing a Coop Job, cooking for myself, typing, getting up, putting on clothes. Whatever the nurse said about losing a hand is what I felt in those 2 months, and I would never wish that upon anyone.
I really do imagine sometimes if I lost my left hand; my life would have been worse than it was before. It definitely would not add to my life in anyway. So why do it?
In University, there are so many different outlets than there were in high school. I have joined Salsa, Swimming Classes, Dancing, etc. I?ll admit that in high school, I would have never taken Dance or Art; they seemed like a waste of a course. But during the past coop when I have gotten into artsy things such as makeup, knitting, and baking, I felt much happier. My self worth grew, and taking up new hobbies allowed me to define myself outside of academics. So sure I?m not getting 90s in my courses, but at least I can tread water, at least I can knit a scarf, at least I can bake delicious brownies.
Relying on academics for your self esteem is a recipe for disaster. Take advantage of Waterloo?s open and welcoming opportunities. Use hobbies as an outlet, and not self harm.
Now, I want to briefly steer into suicide attempts. Self harm is different in the way that you might not want to kill yourself. But just like self-harm, suicide can cause permanent damage if it fails. Your body wants to self preserve; unconsciously it will do anything to keep you alive.
So, if you jump off a building or in front of a car; would you be able to live with yourself if you were to become paralyzed from your own doing?
If you overdose or drink an acid. Could you live knowing that you rely on machinery to live due to failed organs, or a certain hard lifestyle from your own doing?
I told my self harm story to reiterate that whatever your actions are, they will be permanent. Yes, mental illness is a disease, and I still suffer from it, but when you overcome it; you don?t want to take a look at yourself and ask ?What did I do to myself??
For anyone interested, here are some pictures of my wrist wound, recovery, infection, and how it looks 2 years later.
This is how I came into University. I only had scars from certain cuts.
Photo with stitches.
Soon I got an infection, my hand swelled up, my skin dulled up, and started peeling. I was deathly scared because I didn?t know what was going on underneath the bandage, and these symptoms were carrying onto my hand.
I wanted to include this photo to show that after they take out the stitches, they put medical tape to hold both sides of your skin together so the wound can continue to heal. Of course the tape looks disgusting but that didn?t stop me from keeping it on xD
The look during the infection; skin was peeling. The small dots on either side belong to the stitches.
After the Infection
And two years later! Scars of stitches are gone. I don?t regret it. I might consider tattooing the area.