Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Thin Red Line

Most of you have been reading for quite a while now. Those of you who've recently joined, well, even you have most likely heard or read about the Depression Series by now. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're either a random passerby, in which case I say "Hello, and have a great life!" because you're probably not coming back, or you should take the time to go read up a bit, so that you won't be left behind in this (and future) post(s).

So, as I'm pretty sure you all know, I'm a cutter. I haven't cut in over three months now (as of last Wednesday - hooray!), but I'm still a cutter. I'll always be a cutter, because it'll always be there, in my mind. But I don't always have to cut. I have the power to make other decisions. I have the power to choose not to cut.

At any rate, that was a mini pep talk for myself that sort of strayed from my intended topic here. I'm a cutter, and I've admitted as much to anyone and everyone who might stop by here to visit. Part of my reasoning for that was that I wanted the freedom to talk about myself and my problems; when I wrote the Depression Series, I did so because I needed to share all the crap inside my head and my heart, and that included the cutting. But there was also a part of me that chose to talk about the cutting because I know it's not something that's often talked about. The amount of attention it receives in society is completely out of proportion with the number of people dealing with it. The silence about it upsets me, because if I'd known about it, and about how many others were struggling with it, it might have been easier for me to get help sooner.

So I wanted to put it out there, shout out to say, "Hey, I'm here and I have this problem, and it doesn't make me a freak." And what I realized at the time, and what has come to be proven since, is that people probably have a lot of questions about it. Most people don't know about it, or know very little if they do. And, more importantly, most people don't know where to go to ask about it.

So here I am. Ask me.

I want to tell my stories. I want to answer your questions. I want people to know more about this problem that so many out there have. That's why I'm giving myself out as a resource. Anything and everything you've ever wanted to know about cutting, I will do my best to answer. You can leave questions in the comments, email me, IM me, call me, whatever. All questions will remain anonymous and will be answered here in a future post (or posts, if there are a lot of questions). And forward this to anyone you think might also have questions, or even post a link to it on your own site if you're willing. This, while perhaps not a "cause," per se, is my thing. I care about it, the way Her Bad Mother cares about muscular dystrophy, the way Julia cares about diabetes, the way Little Shot cares about global warming. I want people to know more about it.

One thing to keep in mind, however: I am not a pyschologist. Clinical questions about the disorder might not be so easy for me to answer, and would probably be answered by a lot of Googling. Questions about the personal and emotional experiences are going to be more my strong point. But as I said, I'll do my best to answer any questions you toss my way.

So really, please, what do you want to know? Because I want to talk.


Anonymous said...

My best, best friend was a cutter for years - and while I always knew something was up, I had no idea why she was doing it, I had NO idea. Why is it so shunned in society?

I think you're incredible.

LaLa said...

Oh. My lovely Lara.

My heart hurts, but I really, really admire you and I am really, really proud of you.

No questions, but thank you for sharing.


Dee said...

I think it is amazing that you are able to open up about this and try to help others who deal with the same thing. I don't have any questions myself but just wanted to say that I'm proud of you. You probably have no idea how many people you are helping through your blog by just being open and honest about life.

VirginiaGal said...

Have you read the Piers Anthony "Mode" Series? The main female character is a cutter. The first book was published in '91, so that was a bit ago, before any of the tv newsmagazines did stories on it.

Still Jill B said...

My sister (one of 'em) is a cutter, and honey, your thin red line is nothing compared to her scratchy arms.

I'm glad you're putting yourself out there again, with this, because I think that's one of the best things - being open about it starts to break down those walls and make communication possible.

Have you heard about To Write Love On Her Arms, speaking of resources?

Anonymous said...

As a former cutter myself, I find it interesting to see how people describe their reasons for doing it. Though obviously variations of the same deep problems, putting the feeling into words can be tough.

For me, I really felt nothing for so long that I think I wanted to "see" pain. I mean, I was so numb emotionally and just didn't care about anything, but I wanted to see the blood. So, I would take razors and steak knives to my leg until blood ran down...I still didn't feel the cut itself (which is probably hard to believe), but I could at least see something happening. It made me feel human.

Other people have described wanting to hurt physically, as a way of matching their emotional pain. Again, that didn't work for me, since I really couldn't feel the cutting.

So, how would you describe your reason if you had to put it into words?

Caffeinated Librarian said...

It would be my honor and pleasure to be your Valentine today, honey. *grin* Thank you for asking.

I've got nothing to comment on the topic of the day, since cutting is something I (for better or worse) know little of.

I suppose I could leave you with my favorite Ovid quote ("Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you.")...but I'd rather leave you with a song, so...

"I grew up on my own
Spent so much time alone
That it's taken me a while
To let somebody in
To show them where I've been..."

Keep the faith, girl.

Anonymous said...

I often use this stanza (from Diane Ackerman's 'School Prayer') as a mini pep-talk, and I thought someone else might find it useful too:

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.

Thank you, Lara, for offering so much of yourself to us.

Many, many blessings!

Domestic Slackstress said...

I dabbled in cutting as a teen one time for attention. I have the scars still and don't know how to explain it to my husband and kids. So I lie. Just being honest. Thanks for stoppin by my blog. I completelly appreciate your honesty. More people should be as real as you are on their blogs and in life in general. I admire your bravery and gusto.

Anonymous said...

I want to also reiterate the fact that you're pretty darn amazing for putting yourself out there - like they say, "even if you only help one person" (and especially if that one person is yourself.)

Everything I know about cutting, I learned on TV. 7th Heaven did an episode once and Ellie on Degrassi is a cutter.

On a side note, thanks for letting me know you're the little genius who logs in from Stanford. I knew you were in CA (because you are the closest in proximity to me in real life), but I didn't put the two together. Duh.


Lara said...

aly - thank you. i think you're incredible too. and more than that - an incredible friend. your question has been noted and will be answered. i think it's a good one.

lala - oh, my lovely lala. :) don't let your heart hurt too much. i'm healing, and this is a part of that. so it's a good thing.

dee - i hope i'm helping someone, even just one person. that would make it worthwhile. actually, even just helping myself - which sharing this stuff does - makes it worthwhile. thanks for your kind words.

virginiagal - i have not read it, but thanks for bringing it to my attention. i feel like with tv and magazines they all went through a brief period of giving it a fair bit of attention ("the anorexia of the '90s!" etc.), but then went back to ignoring it.

jill b - fortunately, until the latest bout back in october/november, all my cuts were fairly superficial. i have some scars, but they are very light, and may well disappear altogether at some point. and i had never seen TWLOHA before, but i read a bit of it this afternoon. thanks for pointing me that direction.

seeser - it still surprises me a bit that you and i have never really talked more about this, since we've been through such similar stuff, just at different times/places. your question is an excellent one, and a popular one for many to ask. it has been noted and will be answered, so thanks for bringing it up.

caffeinated librarian - if you know little of it, then you are exactly the audience i want to reach. it bothers me, sometimes, that such a vast majority of people know little to nothing about it. i want to get more information to you and others. so i hope you come back and read more. and hey, if your tour de blog is feeling particularly deep and introspective this week, let people know about it there, too.

jen - thank you, jen, for the mini pep talk. :) i appreciate it, and all your comments. i'm glad you've started reading.

domestic slackstress - lying is certainly common for many cutters, one-time or habitual. i've done it more times than i can count, so there's certainly no judgment from me. why we lie is actually another good issue to address, so i'll interpret your comment as a question and answer it. thanks for reminding me. and thank you for the compliments - i'm glad you could stop by.

aimee - i saw the 7th heaven episode, after i'd already done it. and actually, on a totally random note, the actress who played the cutter used to be a friend of mine when we were both little and both doing acting. small world, eh? thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

From all of us who've known cutters (or been related to them) but haven't known how to talk about it, thank you.

So, here's a question. It's been nearly a decade since a family member stopped cutting; he's now in professional school, living in a different state, married, and very joyful. I'd still like to talk to him about what was going on in his household when we were kids; but I'm afraid of bringing past trauma up lest I disturb the happy balance he's got goin' on now.

I'm not looking for a professional judgement, just your opinion -- better to let sleeping dogs lie?

(look, ma, I'm commenting!)

Lara said...

redowa - that's an excellent question, and one that anyone who's ever known a cutter should definitely think about. i'll talk more in depth about it in a post. thanks for bringing it up (and for the comment!).

LaLa said...

**Post of the year award** (I totally just made this award up, but I am sure it exists somewhere)

I cried when I read it, I forgot to say that.

Lara said...

lala - post of the year, eh? that doesn't bode well for the next ten months... it can only go downhill from here. ;)

no, but seriously, thanks so much for saying that. it's an important topic for me, and i'm glad people seem to be appreciating it.

Sandra said...

I have no questions. Only big virtual hugs (from both Little Shot and I).

You are a brave woman and your honesty and courage in sharing yourself with us is incredible. There is much to learn from you Lara.

Lara said...

sandra - thanks to you (and little shot!) for the hugs. i hope i am doing some good as i seek my own best path.

i'm glad to see you around again, lady - i've missed you. :)

dancing dragon said...

I've been sitting here for quite a while trying to formulate a question, but this is something I know so little about that I don't even know what to ask. Anything and everything about it is a question.

I guess the first question that comes to mind is why? And then, what helps you to heal? Again, I know so little that I don't even know what to ask, even though I'd like to know more about it. So please share whatever you want to share.

Lara said...

dancing dragon - those are good questions. the straight-up questions are sometimes the best ones to ask. so i'm glad you brought them up. :)

dancing dragon said...

sometimes i forget that i can be too straight-up. it's gotten me in trouble in the past.... so please tell me to shush or go away if i'm being inappropriate. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're able to talk about cutting so openly. Thanks for answering my questions from the start when you first told me, and I had a million questions and didn't know anything, either. I'm not much of a blog person and yours is the only one I've ever read, and even that is shamefully little on my part. But I am glad to find it and as I read other people's comments, it's clear you are a different kind of blogger, you are so willing to share your honest feelings and I think you gain strength from your writing just as you give strength to others. You are an amazing woman and you know I have always looked up to you and respected you since even before I met you. That won't ever change. Keep writing and I will keep reading. Thanks.