Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Black Woman Confronts Self Injury Disorder aka Cutting (of the wrists)



We are living in very difficult times, pretty much the world over.  We in the West may not be as poverty stricken as some countries when it comes to material resources (and that's up for debate) but we definitely have our share of emotional and mental traumas.  There is so much mental imbalance and emotional brokenness!  In my opinion, it all stems from a lack of love - both giving and receiving, and it's evident everywhere we look.  Our children often bear the brunt of this love poverty.

I was recently reading Blu Jewel's blog, someone who I recently subscribed to.  She is an intelligent sister who is a part of my large blog circle of friends.  I came across a post where she shares a very personal struggle that she has had over the course of her life.  She candidly and bravely talks about the fact that she had been cutting herself as a coping mechanism for an inordinate amount of stress that she had been dealing with in her life.  It's amazing to me how many of us are struggling with some trauma or another - and how we often are excellent at masking our pain.

In this piece that is published in its entirety at Up For Discussion blog, Sister Blu Jewel tells her story, so that we can learn more about Cutting, aka Self-Harm and how it affects the lives of so many young women and men.  As evidenced by Blu Jewel's story, it affects black women as well.  This dynamic of the disorder is under-reported.




Not Just for White Girls: Self-Harm (Part 1)

Introduction to Self-Harm
When we think about certain things, we tend to assign gender, sex, age, or skin color as if it, whatever we’re talking about, solely fits into that presumed category.  In reference to Self-mutilation, sometimes called Self-Injury/Harm, it’s seen as specifically a ‘white girl’ condition.  Well, I’m here to dispel that myth.  How you may ask…because I’m not white and can personally identify.
Please, refer to the link in order to gain a better understanding of what Self-Harm is.

Sadly, I had a difficult time finding U.S statistics for white-to-black ratios of those who Self-Harm.  But suffice it to say, the statistics would not be quite accurate as many African Americans, such as myself, do not report what they’re doing unless someone finds out and mandates counseling.  What I do know for sure is that it’s more prevalent than most of us think and it’s rising at an alarming rate.  My recent interaction with some college students (ages 19-22) determined that 3 of the 20 young ladies in the room had or continues to wrestle with self-injuring.  In addition, two of the students knew of other young ladies who were currently engaging in the behaviour.  Know this readers, this behaviour is less about a latent desire to commit suicide, but instead is predicated on some of the same reasons why people become anorexic, bulimic, promiscuous, etc.  Self-Harm is a coping mechanism adopted to manage stress, pain, discomfort, etc.
My Journey/Story
I began Self-Harm (SH) at age 13.  I am now 44 and didn’t stop until I was about 37.  At the time, I didn’t know my behaviour had a name and it wasn’t until my late teens that I began to understand it.  According to a British study on Self-Harm, 1 in 12 teenagers Self-Harm, with many outgrowing it by their 20's.  Personally, I feel their results are skewed because as I said before, they can only quantify what has not been identified.  Furthermore, some do not start until their late teens or early 20's.  My case went unreported until I was 25, which by then I’d already been cutting for 12 years.

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