Reading about this mother’s concerns sent me back to high school and the years where I really didn’t know what I was expected to do in situations like what her daughter was in.
I had two friends that cut. Daily. And deep. One would cut so deep on her thighs that she had trouble walking and had to run to the bathroom to apply new gauze so that no one could see how much she ended up bleeding, even through her black pants. She told me she was cutting, but I didn’t actually know what that was or what it meant. I knew that she wasn’t suicidal, she just told me over and over again how “cutting and getting high and shit” was the only way that she really felt anything. In hindsight I can see that she was on the fast-track to being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but the naive child I was in high school just knew that she was hurting and I didn’t know what to do. So I just acted as a sound board for her and made things easier for her in classes we shared and sent out much good mojo to the universe that she’d be back in school every Monday because I didn’t know what kind of stupid things she would be up to in different parts of the state over the weekend.
My other friend was not so obvious about it and I think she cut more out of anxiety than the BPD version. I didn’t even realize she cut until near the end of our senior year when she started wearing the arm stocking things that I had seen my other friend wear. She never showed me, but when I asked about it she just shrugged, looked down and went back to eating lunch. I think I mentioned it to the counselor that I was seeing for my own reasons, but I never heard whether anything came of that or not.
I think the thing that upsets me the most about this is that I had no idea what to do. My parents weren’t aware that this stuff happened. They didn’t know that this was a conversation I needed to have with them. I don’t think my teachers were really aware of its prevalence either and so they never had the conversation with any of their students. There just wasn’t awareness that it was going on. I didn’t even really know that maybe this whole thing fell under the same category as depression or suicidal thoughts and that I should have told someone, anyone who had some authority. It was just this weird thing that a few people did and they didn’t want everyone to know so if I knew, I didn’t say anything to anyone either.
There does need to be more education on not just cutting, but on what sort of things need attention, need help. Cutting, burning, suicide, depression, massive anxiety, manic episodes, anorexia, binging, hallucinations, delusions, pregnancies, bereavement, drinking, driving, suicide… dozens more. These things need to be brought up. We need to begin an open debate and keep a running conversation between adults, educators, parents and children. Our children are going to hear about these things. They are going to have friends who experiment with or experience them. They will have an introduction into all of these things through media that will manage to either glorify it, or make it fun or a challenge. If adults start that conversation first, then kids will have a chance to actually discuss these things openly and know that there are people besides their friends or people they sort of know who maybe actually can be a voice of reason. Maybe will help them do research into what these things actually are and what their effects and consequences are. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a chance at decreasing some of the senseless, stupid, accidents that happen because parents are too scared to talk to their kids about things that may be scary or intimidating or disturbing.
I really wish that I could go back to my 15 year-old self and tell me that I really need to talk to my friend and talk to her friends and see if we can work with her to find something else to do. Talk to a school counselor, talk to an outside counselor. Talk with her sister. Maybe even possibly her mom. Maybe her friend’s parents that she trusted more. I don’t know, just someone. I wish I could go back and talk to my teachers and talk to them about the prevalence and what to watch for and how to help. I wish I could talk to my parents about depression and anxiety and maybe have gotten some help earlier for my own stuff.
Most of all, I hope that whether I do or don’t have children myself, that I will be able to talk to the children who are in my life about these things. I don’t want them to suffer through cutting or other methods of self-mutilation or watch their own friends do it and not have any resources. I want them to have people to talk to, to know what to do, how to help. Really, that is what is being started here. The conversation is starting here, with people that have all the opportunity in the world to spread the story further and help arm themselves, their readers, and their friends/families with the knowledge they need to help people out.
This photo of a girl recovering from cutting is now widely shared in Facebook; my daughter’s daily update.
Again today, my daughter (12) told me about a good friend sending photos of her cuts by WhatsApp to another friend, showing her arms covered with cutting marks and large butterflies.
She wasn’t aware that this girl was cutting, but she’s not surprised anymore.
My first cutting post was the primary reason for me to start blogging last January.
The good things that came up since I understood that not all’s glittery pink at the teens kingdom (ok, I didn’t think it was), is that I started blogging, and then there’s this parenting new site that followed , an amazing journey for me.
The bad thing is that my daughter is breaking news to me every second day now about the epidemic spreading, and guess who became the news reporter…
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