A Cutter’s Personal Essay

I had a problem. It’s a problem that is said to only affect one percent of the population, but I believe it’s more wide spread than that. It does not take a stance towards someone due to their race, religion, sexual orientation or even age, although it does have more of a female following.

Self-mutilation can take on many forms. For some they strike themselves, they pull their hair, inflict burns, break bones, cut themselves or not let themselves heal properly. Some consider aggressive tattooing, body piercing and drug use as other forms of self-mutilation, but as I don’t see them as such. Seventy-eight percent of that one percent of the people that inflict harm upon themselves do more than one of the above. Society has come up with reasons and cures, but not everyone can fit into the cookie cutter mold of their creation.

People who mutilate themselves are generally not suicidal. People who commit or attempt suicide do so in the effort to get away from everything in a permeate escape. People hurt themselves to get better, to feel alive. To be alive one needs to feel and one of the easiest things to feel is pain. It doesn’t need emotional ties, or deep meaningful thoughts or even the exertion of an abundant source of energy. Being alive is also being warm. To bleed, for you need to be living to have the flow of blood spill over. Feelings of hollowness and numbness can bring forth feelings of impending death.

I was a cutter. I took sharp pointy objects and would tear at my skin with it. I would rarely cry with the pain. I would, however, cry with the relief of being able to feel, that I was still alive. More times than not, I would hurt myself to make the hollowness go away. To me there is no feeling worse than that, the absence of feeling. There were other times it was the lack of control that I could exert on my life that caused me to administer pain onto my own person.

At the tender age of ten I would use safety pins and sewing needles. I didn’t cut myself, I just broke the skin. Just enough to draw blood. It wasn’t yet the remembrance of pain that drew it to me, but the feeling of my blood. It was so warm, and not as numbingly cold as I felt.

It wasn’t until I reached high school where the numbness gradually faded away into no feeling at all, and the pain then became part of the allure. I could still feel most of the time. I could still call up emotions, but there were moments of which they just weren’t there. Where I couldn’t stir up a single hope or dream, fear, anger… Nothing. As the years passed by these dry spells would crop up with a frightening increase in frequency and stayed with me longer. Simple prickings of the skin could no longer control my growing feelings of nothingness. I started cutting my legs, my stomach, my arms. Places that would bleed. Places with nerves. Places that would hurt. I would watch the blood flow out of my cuts. It would warm me, but the blood always grew cold. So, I would cut deeper and more often. I stayed warmer that way.

I am repeatedly told that the answers to all my problems lay within a psychiatrist and untimely in a pill that I would have to take in order to be a “normal, healthy individual.” I decided that this route wasn’t for me. I’ve seen too many people my own age be told to take pills as if a high priced drug is a panacea, and all the great and little ills of their lives would magical cease to exists. If this was the answer to my problems, I’d much rather remain “neurotic”. Instead I learned to honestly cry; to talk to people that care about me for who I am, not because my parents are paying them to.

At first I was upset with all of them. I felt that they too were against me. I was mad, not angry, at my boyfriend for taking my razors away, at my friends who lectured and yelled and threatened. Now I see how much they cared, and for that I shall have a place in my heart set aside for them always. I am not suicidal. I am, however, a neurotic individual. I can see the beauty in the deliverance of pain. I still see my scars and even though most people would see them as ugly, I cannot see them as that. They show me my past. Now they’re slowly fading away, and it saddens me.

Night Faerie


  1. I understand completely. I am a cutter also and feel the exact same way as you. It is too easy for the world to tell us that a psychiatrist is our answer and the antidote to a return to normalcy is taking pills twice a day for the rest of our lives that leave people in a state of constant comatose. No thanks. I would rather be the way I am now than be like the rest of the world. I also agree with your statement that I don’t think of my scars as ugly. I look at every single one and remember what I was going through at that time and I think, for me, it’s like a scrapbook. Some people go back and look at pictures in a photo album and remember the good or bad times associated with that particular picture. That is the way I feel about my scars. It also saddened me when some of them faded to nothing because for me to get that scar, I was going through something and that scar meant I got through it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I cut. I cut for lots of reasons, but the foremost one is that it calms me, relieves me, and it takes away the pain for a while. It keeps me from doing stupid things like actually killing myself, which I know I don’t really want to do. There is also a definate enjoyment of the pain and the blood. People call me sick.
    Don’t take the pills, or any drugs, no matter what. You might be happy, and never cut again, but would you want to do that? I’d rather suffer in pain and depression than have them send me reeling into a fog of emotionless drug-induced bliss that isn’t real. It would no longer be living–they would take living away from me. No, I will not have them take away what I am with drugs–I will continue to cut, and I will continue to be “disordered”. After all, who is anyone else to judge what is disordered? Give me harsh reality any day over blissful ignorance.

  3. I have hurt myself severly in the past intentionally. I have few scars, but they were from pretty bad stuff. My scars are from intentional “accidents” and burns. My accidents range from collision courses in vehichles to trapping my hand against a conveyer belt and letting it tear the skin off. With my burns I mixed in ash so the scars would puff up and never go away. Because it was not a habbit, it was an easier thing for me to give up then for most people. Someone I love made me stop and I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to worry about her that way eather. Today I am taking medication, and when things get bad I still want to harm myself. Maybe I have sold out or whatever, but I don’t think so. I agree that it is a coping mechanism, and it isn’t as horrible as they think, but it is not blessed eather. Good luck to you all. (I am not asking you to stop, don’t be mad.) P.S. do you guys get that feeling of super sharp senses afterwards the way I did?

  4. yeah, but i am going to have to agree with the others, don’t let society tell your there’s something wrong with you and take the pill to make it stop……………….thats just, to paraphrase a great song…”Killing Yourself to Live” and yes…….i do get that hightened sense feeling, most people do regardless of being cutters or not…….when you bleed or are injured, it sends chemicals into the brain that increase your awareness, a kind of defense mechanism…..

  5. i cut myself….only once…..i was suicidal…..one night, i had a vision of me running a blade across my arm, and the blood beadign up and flowing….it scared me, but the next night, i was sitting here talkign to someone online, running my blade across my skin….i had to do it many times, until the blood ran, even a little….it did not hurt….afterwards, i told my freind….she called me, and we talked for hours on the phone…..she made me promise never to do it again, and i saw her the next night….she took all my blades…..will not give them back till she thinks i’m fine…i hafta check in with her and two other friends every day…..or i am in trouble…..she was a cutter, she understood….the weird part was, it did not hurt…..at all…it was as if some part of my brain knew that this was happening, but the rest was numb….it only hurt later….when i thought about it…..i picked the scabs, so they woudl scar dark….i want them, to remind me never to do it again, to remind me what it feels like, to remind me that i’m still here, adn the remind me of what i’ve done, to myself adn to the ones who love me….i’m glad i’m still here….i would have missed so much….but it just hurt so much, inside, that maybe this helped…..i never wanna hurt like that again…..i love my friends, who made me stop adn love me even through the hard times, those who keep me sane

  6. i know what you mean. i cut also. i used to try to keep up with how many scars i had on various limbs (since i’m an organizational freak). i’ve stopped trying to count now. i’ve never seen a shrink or any doctor about what i do. almost everyone knows, but the funny thing is: no one has made me to stop. one person wants me to, but he is biased anyway. everyone will tell you, “oh, my god, u need to stop doing that!” or “what were u thinking?” well, you weren’t thinking were you? or u would have been able to control your actions. it makes me want to go do it since i’m writing about it, so i’ll keep this brief. the only thing i feel before is a great rush of SOMETHING that just makes me grab one of my many heavy duty utility blades and go straight for any revealed skin i can see. don’t let them give you medicine. like someone else said, you won’t feel alive anymore if u take it. and that’s what u’ve been fighting for all along, is to stay alive.

    just my thoughts,

    or Jackie

  7. if you take the pills….you wont be..you!
    to me..if i didnt slash my arm, then id slash my wrist..so if i slash my arm i dont slash my wrist and everytime i look at the scars i can see it as a mark of my survival…or am i just twisted?….also it calms me to see the blood, if ive been stressed out, or too terrified to sleep (cos of something i wont say) then that morning or that night i cut, then i can sleep….am i still twisted??i get so confused…cutting helps me see right…….please dont say im twisted…

  8. I used to cut myself. I still do sometimes. Not a lot – I wasn’t obsessive, it was just on my wrists.
    Like you said, I wasn’t suicidal about it (although I had been close to killing myself before, and my parents made me see a shrink). It was my way of punishing myself for all of my imperfections. And like you said, I also did it to prove I was still alive. I did it because I moved up here to Canada, away from my friends and especially my boyfriend who was (is) the only person who has ever really understood me. I was angry – at my parents, at my family, at my parents’ friends, at myself.
    I stopped because my little sister (who is only 10 years old) found out. I know this might sound a little corny, but I saw how upset she was, and I realized how much influence I have on her. So I promised her I would stop. I did. I haven’t done it since… although I’ve been very close sometimes.
    My friends tried to stop me too, but a lot of them are cutters as well. My boyfriend is. He didn’t try to stop me. He understood why I did it… when I would talk to him on the phone he just let me cry.
    I don’t think cutting is bad… at least we’re only hurting ourselves. It’s only a means to an end.

  9. Being a cutter is not unusual among many Native American tribes. Many of the invisible race cut their hair and their flesh when they greived for a lost one. It is modern society’s implications that disallows people this, sometimes effective tool. I, myself used boxcutters to cut simatrically parallel lines into my arms, only the faint etchings of scars remain, but they kept me from suicide. I have greived from when I was young, and it may continue. Because of the feeling and the pain, I have been able to continue without choosing to escape (via suicide or insanity) Although, I haven’t done that in awhile, and the dark tides of derangment is slowly pulling me in. It will be time soon, and I hope to once again triumph.

  10. Interesting… Lately I’m realizing that I’m not alone in my addiction.

  11. if u cut u do it for a certain reason……i ave a friend who cuts and she hates her scars……i cut my arms and legs & i look bak at my scars & remember dat thatz ME……pills and pyschotherapy bullshit is gonna change me…..fuk that id rather b me and ‘pyscho’…..fuk ppl ……cut and dun b ashamed of ur scars they’re YOU!

  12. i cut myself, really deep, n i h8 it, i hate the scars and the memories they’ve left, fuk it, i h8 myself, n i h8 everything else, i cud kill myself, get it ova n dun wiv, but i wanna make it better, ppl c my arms wen i 4get n they think im fuked up, well maybe i am, my best friend sees me wiv nefing sharp n she takes it off me, makes sum joke of it n it really pisses me off, she dont understand she has no clue, it really pisses me off wen ppl think they understand wen they dont, so im gunna go 2 that bullshit, n get those pills, coz i h8 my fucked up self

  13. “I still see my scars and even though most people would see them as ugly, I cannot see them as that. They show me my past. Now they’re slowly fading away, and it saddens me.”

    Those last sentences…that is exactly how I feel. I only cut a few times, the first time is one year ago now, on newyear’s day. Things have changed in the past year, I became happier about my life. My boyfriend tells me not to cut myself anymore, I’m keeping it up, although I couldn’t help myself once, when we had a fight and I felt so miserable. But, I sorta promised now. And now I look at my scars and…sometimes I would just want to take any sharp object into my room, and cut, just to see the blood, and the scars. I didn’t cut for a reason, at least, I didn’t think I had to give myself any reason for doing it, and that felt good. I really liked my scars, I even think they were beautiful. Now there’s just one large vertical scar left, on my wrist, and several faded marks around it, you can hardly see them anymore. It saddens me. They were the only proofs of me being alive in those days. And now I can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to lie, because I love him so much… But still wanting the scars…I guess I’m just a sick person.

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