I cut myself for a long time. Long before Princess Diana and other celebrities admitted to self-harming. Long before it became a thing. Long before it became a casual part of the everyday vernacular.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 11 years old, so I had some sterile equipment at my disposal, which I began to use in earnest shortly after my diagnosis. The needles made fine thin lines when drawn back and forth over my skin, but my tool of choice was the lancet, which was just as sharp, but not quite so fine, enabling me to draw blood that much quicker.
I don’t know how I started cutting or why I liked it so much. It was a release, and allowed me to feel something when I otherwise felt nothing. I got used to wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when the marks were raw. This habit, or rather addiction, continued for many years. At times even now I have to remind myself that this is not a healthy way of feeling emotion and I have to de-glamorize it for myself.
I remember being in therapy for a significant eating disorder that basically ruled my undergrad years at University. How I managed that first degree under those circumstances I’ll never really know, but that’s another story. At any rate, after a number of years and with the help of my family I reached out for help. My wonderful mom used her connections to get me in with a Psychotherapist who specialized in eating disorders. This was a small mid-western city in the mid-nineties, so there weren’t a lot of people in this line of work. (I guess I’ve always been a bit ahead of my time.) The therapist was not cheap either, but my mom was willing to pay anything to help save her daughter and for that I am still thanking her.
I’d been seeing the therapist for a number of weeks when I finally got brave enough to lift my shirt and show her the large angry red marks that circled my abdomen. “I tried to cut out the fat.” I said. She looked at me and said rather calmly, “I don’t think I can see you anymore.” I was stunned. Wasn’t she supposed to help me? I didn’t know what else there was to say. I walked out of there and lied to my mom for the next several weeks and told her that I was still seeing the therapist. After a few weeks she realized that the cheques she had been giving me hadn’t been cashed and she confronted me. I did survive and am still surviving, but it was not due to any help from the ultra-deluxe super specialist therapist.
Don’t get me wrong–there are good therapists out there, but this one just wasn’t the one. It’s a long journey up from the bottom and it’s made only harder by healers who aren’t really interested in healing. Or maybe this doctor just didn’t know how to deal with the information I gave her. I kind of got the feeling that she was a bit freaked out by me and that she was wishing I would have just kept writing in my food diary and stuck to the narrow path she had envisioned would lead me to health. Alas, my path needed to spiral more before it would straighten. And it’s still not entirely straight. And that’s okay.
Notes: I think this will be the last in the Depression Vignettes series for a while. While it feels somewhat therapeutic and almost cathartic to write them and release them, it’s also quite draining.