Understanding Self HarmVictoria Vena  
Understanding Self Harm
 Self-harm, like almost any addiction, starts out physical and morphs into a mental state of mind. The first time my razor blade met my wrist, I was desperate for a sign that I was still living. It sounds silly, but it’s true.At the time, I let people walk all over me, ignore me, belittle me, use me, verbally abuse me…it got to the point where I was sitting on the floor of my bathroom with a pounding headache and tears streaming down my face almost every night. I figured, if people treat me like I’m not a human, then how can I prove that I am one? Cutting almost felt good. It stings for a bit, but when you’re in tortuous mental pain, you welcome the physical sting to take your mind off of it. When I saw the blood surface, it was telling my brain “Yes, there’s someone in here”.In hindsight, I realize this was my way of exercising control over some aspect of my life. In my mind, self-harm was a means of control, power, and actions with immediate results. It was my thirst for power that caused me to keep coming back to drink from the well. At this point in time, I was cutting most nights. When I wasn’t cutting you could faithfully find me with my head over a toilet, greeting my dinner for the second time that night. My life was about self-inflicted pain and worshipping the gods of thinness because I could choose that without anyone taking it away from me.    Here is where it transformed from enjoying the physical pain and the numbness that followed, to something my mind was hooked on. It snowballed into something I never meant it to, and it didn’t only hurt me. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face, or the cards my little sister sent me every day because she wasn’t old enough to visit me, or the tear’s shed by my father when he sat next to my hospital bed all night. The sobs choked out by my best friend on the phone when I called to tell her my power trip had gone too far and she’d almost lost me. I used self-harm because I didn’t know anything else. I had so much anger and sadness bottled up that I didn’t know where to put it or what to do with it.After my trip through the system, I learned coping skills and techniques. I learned the importance of taking my medicine the way it was prescribed. I learned how much I liked to finger paint, write poetry, and do yoga. Of course, while I was trying to stop self-harming, I messed up. I’ve had to scratch all my progress and start fresh, but that is one of the beauties of life. It’s full of second and third and fourth chances and you can change into anything your heart desires. Screwing up doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human! Welcome to the club, there’s like seven billion of us. You can cope with anything for fifteen minutes. Any issue, any situation, any emotion. And when you cope for fifteen minutes, you cope for the next fifteen minutes.Pain is weakness leaving the body. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Tell yourself anything to keep oxygen flowing into your lungs. Know that your feet are on the ground and you have a worthy head on your shoulders. I wish someone would’ve taken my hand and put it on my chest so I could feel my heart beating. You are on this Earth for a purpose, never ever forget that.