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Cutting Triggers Your Body’s Chemistry
The body naturally produces a chemical compound called endorphins. Endorphins are released to help the body deal with pain and stress. In fact, endorphins cause an actual high designed to cover over real physical pain. And cutting causes real physical pain.
You might have heard of runners high? This is simply the release of endorphins into the bloodstream when someone puts their body through something extremely physically challenging. This high, or euphoria, is extremely addictive.
Much of the same thing happens when you cut. Your brain is flooded with endorphins, which gives you a rush, and a sense of calmness and relief that makes you feel like everything is ok. Some cutters claim the high can last up to 90 minutes, but what happens when that high wears off?
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Sarah S. understands this chemical dependency, after being addicted to cutting for six years. Your body has its own pain management using hormones called endorphins. Endorphins manage physical pain, as well as emotional. When someone cuts, endorphins are released and helps [cover up] the emotional and physical pain. It will make you feel better for a few minutes and then you will crash again. Eventually your body will build a tolerance to it and you will have to cut deeper and/or more frequently and more cuts at one time to get the same effect as before.
So in the end, cutting is rather simple to explain.
It is using self-inflicted pain to get a high, in order to self-medicate an emotional pain with a temporary feel good. The problem is the feel good quickly can turn to a feel bad, or worse, to an addiction.
Megan says she got addicted to the physical high of cutting as an early teen. I started cutting in junior high because a girl who was cooler than me was doing it. I kept on doing it because it helped with my pain that I was having from school or my family, or later from my eating disorder. I’m 20 years old and I realize now that I cut for a bit of a high, but I don’t have that urge to feel that high anymore.
Megan doesn’t feel the urge to get the cutter’s high anymore. How did she stop? One thing I know for sure, she came face to face with the consequences of cutting.
So please, if you have overcome the addiction of cutting, let me know how you had the moment of clarity that changed everything for you when it comes to cutting.
If you are struggling with self-harm, check out TheHopeLine’s free eBook.
Cutting Can Be Life-Threatening Due to Serious Injury
Anytime an individual is injured to the point that the skin is broken, there is a risk of infection. Anyone who has skinned their knee as a child may have developed a slight infection, where the healing wound becomes more painful and irritated. Deep cuts, such as those that can occur during cutting, can lead to very serious infections as well. Because of the secrecy involved in cutting — most individuals who engage in cutting behavior will hide their cuts or scars religiously to prevent anyone from finding out — the wounds often go untreated. An individual may also use whatever implements are available without taking sterilization precautions before they cut themselves. When this happens, the risk of infection can increase.
Tetanus, for instance, is caused by a type of bacteria that is present just about everywhere. Most commonly, it is found in animal manure, but it can live for quite a long time outside the body and has been found in soil, dirt and even dust. When it enters the human body, it will incubate for as long as three weeks before any symptoms are known. Unlike a simple infection where a cut might become red or sore, this strain of bacteria attacks the central nervous system. The indications include flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea and fever, sweating and a rapid heartbeat. The muscles will spasm, sometimes causing one’s jaw to lock (tetanus is commonly referred to as “lockjaw”), making it difficult to swallow. Left untreated, this condition can be fatal.
Another serious infection of concern for untreated cuts is gangrene. This condition occurs when the oxygen supply to the tissues is interrupted. Blood carries the oxygen we breathe in to all of the parts of our body. Also carried in the blood is our supply of infection-fighting white blood cells. Without this supply of white blood cells, bacteria and viruses can grow unchecked at the wound site. If the blood supply falls below a certain point, preventing the oxygen and white blood cells from doing their jobs, gangrene can result. The tissue literally dies from disease and “suffocation.”
There are five types of gangrene that can develop, depending upon the form and severity of the injury, including:
- Dry gangrene: slow to develop and most common in someone with a vascular disease
- Gas gangrene: generally affect deeper cuts
- Internal gangrene: affects internal organs
- Fournier’s gangrene: very uncommon, affecting male genitalia
- Wet gangrene: painful and life-threatening, generally resulting from an injury
Wet gangrene spreads very quickly, and it if is not treated urgently, it can be fatal. This is the type of gangrene that can result from a simple cutting injury. For patients who suffer from diabetes, for instance, a simple injury to their toe due to a lack of feeling may go unnoticed and bring about the immediate need to amputate their leg.
Treatment for Cutting and Self-harm
It is important to understand the total picture when treating these types of conditions so that every aspect of an individual’s development can be addressed. When someone suffers from more than one condition, neither of the conditions is “more important” than the other. Certainly, if someone has developed addiction, the addiction disorder must be addressed through evidence-based therapies. In the past, cutting has been seen as a side effect of other disorders, rather than as a condition which needs to be addressed by itself. For example, if someone is suffering from a major depression disorder, they may undergo psychotherapy for the depression. One might expect that the cutting or other self-injury behaviors would stop on its own. More recently, however, evidence is suggesting that individuals who receive specific treatment, in the form of cognitive behavioral therapies, especially for the cutting fair better in recovery than those who do not receive specialized attention.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that has a very specific agenda: to change negative, dangerous or unhealthy behaviors. In order to
accomplish this, trained psychotherapists work with individuals to help them learn new life skills for coping with stress or other situations in their lives. The process is based on the belief that our behaviors are learned. When someone engages in cutting because they feel guilty, for instance, they learn that the feeling of pain in their flesh relieves the feelings of guilt. It is possible to unlearn that behavior through education and a new, rational view of the situation. When the person learns that cutting themselves is unhealthy and that there are others ways in which to deal with their guilt, the relief factor may be removed from the act of cutting. When this happens, they are more likely to refrain from self-injury in the future.
All cutting is serious and dangerous. If you or someone you love is engaging in any type of cutting, regardless of how serious you may believe it to be, it is imperative to treat it with care, concern and immediate attention. Please, do not hesitate to contact us here at Axis for more information about the dangers of cutting and to find out how we can help.
Ever have the feeling that you’re just not good enough? Though it’s pretty normal for people to beat up on themselves, doing so can make life a lot more challenging as it can cause anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. To keep negative, self-critical thoughts from dragging you down, here are a few reasons to cut yourself some slack!
1. Repeat after me: There’s no such thing as perfect!
What would perfect even be? What’s its age, IQ, religious preference, and blood type? How tall is it? Is it outgoing and funny or introspective and thoughtful? Is it a student, a CEO or a stay at home parent? There’s no perfect way to be, we simply are what we are. We are unique, and there’s nothing specific that we are supposed to do, be or have.
2. Everyone has struggles, problems and flaws, and many of them are much more challenging to deal with than our own.
When you’re feeling down on yourself, take inventory of the people who are around you. What are their flaws? What do they struggle with? Identifying the imperfections in other people can help you feel a little bit better about where you are in this moment.
3. Someone probably loves your flaws exactly as they are.
Sometimes the things we hate about ourselves are exactly what others love about us. Think about some of your favorite actors, comedians, teachers, friends, coworkers and family members-chances are their flaws are exactly what make them the special characters they are.
4. You’ll be looking back on today’s problems differently some day. How you feel is temporary.
For example, when you look in the mirror maybe you see signs of aging, and that stresses you out. However, ten years from now you’ll be looking at pictures of yourself thinking “Wow! I was so young!” Likewise, you might have been completely devastated when you failed a math test in 7th grade but today the test seems completely insignificant and unimportant.
How we feel about ourselves in the present moment is simply our perspective from where we stand in this exact space. Someday our perspective will change and we will see things differently, so please realize that feelings of self-criticism are conditional and temporary.
5. No one else is ever going to be as critical of you as you are.
Sure, it might be embarrassing to say something inappropriate in a meeting, get fired or take a bad picture, but no one else is watching you as closely as you are yourself. We are all a little narcissistic and self-absorbed, so trust that the people around you are more concerned with their own issues than they are with yours. Although we might feel like there is a giant spotlight on our imperfections and they are being broadcasted around the world, no one’s really paying too much attention to them.
6. We’re all headed to the same place anyways.
Not to be too morbid, but all we really know for certain is that at some point, we are going to die. It doesn’t matter who was the most attractive, the most accomplished, the smartest or made the least amount of mistakes. We all share a similar fate no matter what we do, how we look or what we have. Being hard on ourselves only makes the journey less pleasant.
7. You deserve love and acceptance, especially from the person you’re with all day, every day!
We all need love to be our best selves. Knowing this, please remember that you are the best person to love and accept yourself, because you are the only one you spend time with 24 hours a day. If you want to be happy and have good self-esteem your best bet is to treat yourself with kindness and allow yourself to be exactly what you are, flaws and all.
So the next time you’re feeling down on yourself take a few minutes to get some perspective and cut yourself some slack. Though feelings of self-criticism are normal and will pop up from time to time, there’s no reason to dwell on them and let them drag you down!
Would you like some more information on how to keep a positive perspective?
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My name is Andrea Schulman. I am a former high school psychology teacher & the creator of ‘Raise Your Vibration Today.’ I teach people how to become masters of their minds through the Law of Attraction. Check out the full-length video tutorials on my membership portal and learn how to create a beautiful life with intention. XO