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Doctorly Visits

Conversations with Doctor K, II

Cuts

“I had a sinkful of dishes, and I’d put them out on the counter on a towel like I do when I’m getting ready to wash them … and I did that three days ago,” I said, laughing afterward.

“You did what now?”

“I did it three days ago. I was going to wash dishes, but—”

“But you haven’t gotten to it yet.”

“—when we were talking about depression.”

“You and Mom were talking about this?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

“This was just one example in a list of things, like how it takes an hour to get out of bed, sometimes two. How my sleep schedule’s all wrong, going to bed at seven in the morning and waking up at one and shit like that.”

“Huh. I didn’t know that piece.”

“Yeah. Well, the only time I like going to the gym—”

“Is late, right?”

“—yeah. I like to lift weights, but the only time to do that is like two in the morning when it’s not a complete sausage-fest in there. I can’t handle it. Lately, I feel like I’m not handling things as good. Like, I know last week when we talked I got emotional and whatever, you know—”

“And that’s okay—”

“But it happens a lot. Like, I made eggs one time and just started crying.”

“What was going through your head that brought those emotions out?”

“It’s always something that’s happening in my life at the time. I don’t remember what was going on that particular time. But, just last night I go lay down kinda early, at midnight, because I want to get up early for a change, and I lay in bed for probably a half-hour before deciding I can’t sleep. I had a story running through my head, I had the first paragraph, you know, something very deep and emotional. So I got on the computer at one o’clock in the after—”

“—morning—”

“—in the morning, yeah—sorry—and I just let it rip for an hour. And there was a point during all that writing that I cried. Then I went to the gym. Came home and showered and—”

“Good job getting to the gym.”

“Huh?”

“Good job getting to the gym.”

“… yeah. I guess. Like I said, lifting weights is pretty much the only thing I enjoy anymore.”

“No, it is awesome. You did better than I. So, uh, when you’re crying and writing what was going through your head?”

I was quiet awhile. “Well, it had to do with the piece I was writing. The working idea was ‘If things were different.’ It was meant to be a piece of non-fiction—something for my journal. I began to re-visit some of the, what I consider the big fuck-ups in my life, and change things a little bit. Rewrite the history some. So, for example, the opening was ‘If things were different I would have been celebrating my birthday that night—'”

“—back on your eighteenth?”

“Yeah. And everybody would have been there and it would have been a blast, right? Instead of being in jail on my eighteenth birthday. And so I followed that idea, I went down through sections of my life and just wrote different scenes, better outcomes. And I think that’s what got me: thinking about all that ancient history brought out the tears. Then I woke up this morning and … I mean I’m not saying this to brag or anything, but there was another moment today where I got emotional. I cried twice and thought about  … cutting. I’ve never been a cutter. But today I thought about it, not just abstractly, like Gosh, it sure would be nice to slice open my arms or my shoulder today, but concretely. I thought about all the practical things, like where I could do it without nicking an artery and bleeding out everywhere, where I could hurt and get what I was after.”

“What were you after?”

“Some feeling, I guess.”

“To take it from numb to feeling?”

“I don’t know. I just. I just kind of felt like doing it and—”

“Well. The reason I’m asking is because it’s vital to know why. There’s usually one of three or four reasons why people begin, or continue, cutting. By the way, it’s extraordinarily addictive if you ever go there. Extremely addictive. It’s very much like an eating disorder. If you know what you’re wanting, or hoping to get out of it, that’s key. Because then we can look at how to get that same … satisfaction by other, more effective means—in addition to not being damaging.”

“I think what set this off is I had something happen recently in the last day or so, and it’s really trivial, I don’t even want to bring it up really—”

“—if it affects you then it’s important.”

_________________________________________________

From a recorded conversation, Summer 2013.

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