Art by Michelle Schill

Somewhere in my mid-teens I began cutting, also known as self-mutilation. I have no idea where I got this idea nor can I remember the first time I did it or why. This problem remained with me off and on through out my adult life.

The one thing I do know about cutting was that it made me feel real. It made it appear as if I had the capacity to feel something. I also did it out of self-hatred. I would be suffering from extreme depression, anxiety or upset about something and as soon as I finished cutting I would have such a sense of calm. Fortunately, I have since found that meditation gives me an even stronger sense of calm and centeredness that is permanent. With cutting the calm is very brief.

Cutting became to me what I believe a substance addiction would be for another. If I felt the need to cut and could not, for whatever reason, it actually effected me physically as well as emotionally and mentally. My stomach would be in knots, I would shake and could not think clearly.

When people would question my cuts and scars, I would tell them my dog or cat did it. This was not very believable but it was all I could think of. Telling the truth never entered my mind, especially since back in the 1970’s and 1980’s hardly anyone had heard of cutting.

Unfortunately, my sister had walked in while I was changing clothes one day and noticed my cuts and scars. In an effort to get me help, she reported this to my parents. My mom began scolding me. She told me that I was being a bad example for my sisters and as the oldest I should know better and strive to be a good example for them. She also told me that I was sinning against god by hurting myself. My punishment for this offense was that I was to see a psychologist and pay for it myself with my meager earnings from my weekend part-time job at Wendy’s. I believe I was about 16 years old at this time. Needless to say, this did nothing to assist me in stopping from cutting. I think it may have only made matters worse.

After this incident, my cutting lessened but I began starving myself. Anorexia then entered my life but that is a separate blog post. – Michelle