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kiota and her thin red lines

I'm finding out that time is playing tricks with me. Happy tricks.

It's Saturday and two weeks ago I'd gotten off the plane from Seattle and was spending time in Boston. Saturday and Ki was crying and continuing to get ready to get on another kind of plane. I would get to have only one more LJ "conversation" with her and she would never write me an Email again.

That Saturday now feels like years ago and feels like yesterday. It feels like both of these things at the same time. This morning, even.

As long as I accept that with my heart, and don't try to figure it out logically, it also feels warm and good and fine and she's right here.

At least one of my new LJ friends is into SI as a healing and comforting activity.

The shrinks have noted this as a worldwide behavior and they get all puzzled trying to understand it.

Me too, but a lot less now.

One of the books puts a discussion under "Indirect Self-Destruction" and reports answers to the question "Why?"

"....a type of self-help behavior that provides a form of temporary release from psychological distress along with a sense of self-control. [Cutters ] have described relief from feelings of tension and depression, alleviation of feelings of loneliness and alienation [interesting!], escape from feelings of depersonalization, enhanced sexual feelings, and euphoria." Other explanations include "a method of dealing with sexual conflicts, or a way of gaining revenge against significant others [WOW!]...or a method of establishing a social identity that is highly valued in some social subgroups. The act of cutting ... may occur [as a result of the idea of cutting that comes with a sense of comfort.] For some, the experience is accompanied by relief, as if they are reassured by the ability to feel physical sensation, and in turn that they are still alive. Others [talk about] a feeling of empowerment when overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness."

Another researcher found that cutting is "an active way to avoid suicide with mastery over death" and is also "a way to cope with depersonalization and dissociation and maintain a sense of self in the face of overwhelming internal emotion".

Body piercing has a similarity to non-suicidal cutting. At least one pro body piercer, not a pro shrink, writes that the "act of being cut and surviving is a very strengthening and powerful experience for people. To ask to be cut, not in a violent situation but in a loving, supportive, trusting situation, and then bleed, and then end up with something beautiful ... that can be very empowering."

Kiota has been a cutter for years. All degrees of danger and lethality, starting down from the very slightest. Dissociation, loneliness, empowerment, surviving years of it, depersonalization = right on. She could have written this book, published it once she earned a few pro degrees.

A footnote to her 2003 suicide letter says: "I want to cut. If I cut tonight I might die." She took pride in knowing exactly where the line was between non-serious cutting and life-endangering cutting, and she said so. Many times. Some felt her knowledge about that was getting blurry and told her so. Result: more arguments, even while she was bleeding she could still type.

Does not inspire me to pick up a blade and use it on myself at all. Never will. But I never condemned those who do, before, and now I honor them and can hold them at least to the extent that I understand much better what's going on inside ... or might be.

Blessings Be.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 26th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
I'm really surprised that they don't talk about a release of (not so much distress) energy, specifically the adrenaline of blind anger.

"or a method of establishing a social identity that is highly valued in some social subgroups."

I recall a user on a forum criticizing some unknown schoolmate because instead of using a blade, she scratched her arms with her fingernails. I believe her words were something like "Do you think that's emo? Get a real knife, and and then you'll be emo." This is one of the most blatant statements that cutting and depression have become a teenage fad that I've seen. Of course it was received negatively, people expressing concern for the scratcher and disapproval towards her criticizer, but if it actually effected her, I don't know. Irregardless, it's pretty damn sad.
Apr. 26th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Intolerance is pretty damn sad.

And, ihmo it's been a teenage fad for a long time. Not just a teenage one, either.

I think the whole medical industry is all about diagnosis to get effective treatment to "fix" people who are suffering. So these pdocs are all left-brain because they only allow themselves to operate with empathy within very very narrow, well-defined control limits. Maybe this is an oversimplification. anyway, that fucking sucks.

These are human beings and sufferers, not bundles of symptoms that you can list on a chart and do a treatment plan, also on a chart.

So I don't buy what they do at all. They can provide some objective facts and lots of research studies. I can look all that up in a book or on MedLine, Ovid, what have you. Both Ki and I do that a lot.

The suspicion is that if they can't fit you into some kind of diagnostic / treatment box, they get really scared and put up the same kind of wall....as I just talked to Kala about below.

Blessings Be.
Apr. 26th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
I really wish more people could understand this issue, though I've never come across someone who fully understands it unless they have done it themselves. I can try to provide some insight to you.

Physical pain is far easier to deal with than emotional pain. Cutting is a way of masking the emotional pain with something that is tangible and understandable, something that can be fixed with a bandage and some time. At first it hurts. A lot. And you realize that if you are feeling physical pain, you don't notice your emotions so much. But as it progresses, you feel it less. Your emotional pain is far greater than the pain of each cut, so you can't even feel what you are doing to yourself anymore. It's scary when that happens. But you keep doing it more and more, just hoping that you'll feel it again and hoping that it will make your emotional pain disappear.

Another reason you continue is the physical addiction to it. It's like any other drug out there. Cutting releases endorphines. Your brain get used to having these endorphines and produces less naturally, so if you stop, you crave it and go through a sort of withdrawal. You need it to produce those chemicals.

I've cut for some six years now, and that's the best I can do to explain it. Hope this helps you understand a little.
Apr. 26th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
Kala, that's perfect. And considerate. Thank you. It *does* help me understand, a lot.

The pdocs talk about "desensitization" -- your body gets used to it and to the endorphins (1) so it takes more and more to get the same effect (2) you gradually become blind to the dangers of cutting turning into some serious, irreversible damage...

Emotional pain goes on while many forms of physical pain can get treated. This sounds so very true.

Just like rape survivors, SI life-stylists are, many times, obsessed with secrecy. And that's a shame. It means that there's a wall built up which separates them from compassionate understanding, acceptance, and hope that there might be a guide pointing with respect toward another path which might be more helpful....or at least available.

Blessings Be.
Apr. 28th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Life-stylists. I'm not so sure I like that term. SI is a serious problem, and I don't really see it as a life-style choice.

But anyway. Yeah, that sounds about right, the obsession with secrecy part. Though I think part of that wall is built by society and ignorant common perceptions of self-injury, not entirely by the SIers themselves. I feel obligated to keep my cutting a secret for fear of what people might perceive me as (crazy, freak, attention-seeker, etc). I actually purposefully push people away from getting to close to me, because I know that the moment I let someone in too close, they will find out.
Apr. 29th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, Kala. It's hard to know how far to trust someone to get close enough, to be vulnerable about cutting. Even as good friends as we are, Anna kept her arms and legs totally covered while I was there [even though I had known for years what they look like, and accepted her for years.] It's hard to know in advance what a new friend might think. Alternatively, the new friend might also use SI ! .... hope you are careful. That might sound like I'm talking down to you but I'm totally not.

Blessings Be.
Apr. 27th, 2008 07:06 am (UTC)
i have been injuring since i was 12. i'm about to turn 31... i'll let you do the math! i have been through many treatments including a 30 day stint at SAFE (the only treatment center in the country purely for injurers). it's a strange thing, but i find it so completely fulfilling in the moment that it is almost impossible to replace it. it's so self-soothing and meditative, that no amount of other nurturing behaviors ever seem to compare. i don't injure often anymore (since Vedanta saved much more than my skin) but my skin has retained the memory of all the years it daily helped me to stay alive by absorbing the cuts burns and bruises. it's a very stigmatized activity and sadly so, because without it i certainly wouldn't be around to post this. so while it may be sad, horrifying and all other kinds of things, i honor it for allowing so many to continue to fight through their days, looking for a reprieve from every heavy thing.
Bright Blessing to you and all...
Apr. 27th, 2008 10:02 am (UTC)
You are yet another reason why it's wrong and even pathological to condemn cutters out of hand. You're writing this beautifully and much more elegantly than these sometimes horrified pdocs who are all 'tsk, 'tsk and horrified and throw around words like psychotic and worse. To the extent that it helps avoid worse pain and some life-terminating activities, there is a place ....

One of the private comments I got that seems very apt is that almost everyone who passes judgment in the pro realm really has no idea of the helpful perspective because they cannot possibly appreciate that since they have never actually experienced cutting personally themselves.

The first time Ki mailed me a private picture of herself, showing one side of her clothed body, bared limbs, I gulped and, I suppose, was partly horrified also [she had used body makeup somewhat.] I was instantly alive to the pain it represented, and nothing else. Getting a whole new perspective from my new friends.

"Vedanta saved much more than my skin." I'm really buoyed by all the joy / happiness / peace radiating from the holy things on your altar, happens every time I look.

Thank you for sharing, Empress.....Blessings Be.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


kiota too late for the stars
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