How I Got “Those Scars”

If you’re uncomfortable with reading about self-harm and/or really bad depression… there’s some pretty funny stuff up on McSweeney’s today, maybe check that out instead of this. Otherwise…I have three scars on my left wrist- two on the inside and one on the outside- that are just over a month or so old. There’s another, smaller one about halfway up my forearm, and a series of even thinner ones that could easily be mistaken for marks left by something pressing on my upper arm. But the three down on my wrist are dark red, and they have little dots bordering them on both sides that kind of make them look like centipedes. Or, they do if you’re into playing the whole “that cloud looks like a…” game with the lasting results of your bad decisions. Which I am.

They’re healing as well and as quickly as they can, but last weekend when I was helping a little kid out of the foam pit, she grabbed my wrist and it felt like they were going to re-split open and I would once again see what a completely exposed vein looks like, and how truly gross the inside of our bodies are. Even somewhere as innocuous as your arm.

Whenever I’m asked about them, I usually respond in one of two ways: “I just had a little accident!” (to kids and to anyone I don’t have the mental energy or time to engage on it with) or “I hurt myself” (when I’m ok answering questions and talking about it. This also has the added benefit of being kind of vague so people can take it how they want).

The truth is obviously more complicated than that. It was late on a Saturday night- technically Sunday morning- and I was up falling deeper and deeper into that awful heavy, thick, dark, black hole of really bad depression. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the ways I was a terrible friend, and family member, and girlfriend, and employee, and person. I stared at my dog who was asleep lying on my legs and who I love more than almost anything, and thought about how much better off she’d be if only she had been adopted by someone who was able to wake up early enough every morning to take her on long walks and not by someone who couldn’t even get out of bed sometimes.

I thought about how many medications I had tried, and how many ECT sessions I’d had, and how many miles I’d run to “get that natural serotonin”, and how none of it mattered because I was still sitting there thinking those things about myself and feeling like there was no point in trying anything because nothing worked. And when that feeling becomes so overwhelming that you can’t breathe, you’ll do almost anything to make it stop. In my case, there have been two times in the past year where the only thing I could think to do was to hurt myself. I looked around my room and remembered I had a fresh pack of razor blades from some art project or something and I make quick work of my upper arm, down to my wrists with each of the five cuts getting deeper. If I had done one more, or maybe just put too much pressure on the last two, or even just fallen asleep then, I probably wouldn’t be here, and it really would have been just fine with me, if it were just about me.

But it’s not just about me and some things I do care about is that I once made a promise to my brother, and that I have parents that I love and who love me, and friends, and that little dog who despite whatever I think of myself, thinks I’m the second greatest thing to ever exist, right after those rawhide chewy things from Trader Joe’s. So I went to the ER and got stitched up and promised to go to more frequent ECT visits and changed my medication once again, and learned that having stitches taken out is really fucking painful.

I wouldn’t call what I did that night a suicide attempt. The goal was to give myself something that I HAD to focus on, so my mind would stop doing that awful nonstop spiral. But I also find myself walking around sometimes and wishing I could just not be here. Not there specifically, but here. It’s too hard and even when I take a break and let myself sleep in or cancel plans, it comes with the guilt of not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. It really is really difficult to take a real break when your brain malfunctions. So it wasn’t a suicide attempt, but there are times when I am suicidal. Not all the time and not even most of the time, but sometimes. Trying to convince people that despite this, I would never actual make an attempt to end my life is tricky. People worry that you’re just trying to make them feel better, and doctors sign papers that say they’ll take any concern seriously and that might mean I end up back in the hospital where I do not want to or can afford to be, but it’s also really hard to have a conversation about depression and anxiety without being able to acknowledge that part of it.

So anyway, that’s how I got the scars I have on my left wrist.

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