I blame it on Top Chef.
Some time ago, in Season 4000 I think, one of the chefs was completely stressed out. Ok, that describes just about every episode, but this chef was so wiped out with frustration that he pantomimed shooting himself in the head to a diner in his buffet line. And he went all the way. Not only did he hold the finger gun to his head, but he pulled the trigger and used his other hand to indicate his brain matter splattering all over the place.
I’ve done the finger thing; I’ve done it a lot. But I haven’t done it since that day.
I haven’t said, “I’m going to open a vein” either. I used to say it regularly, when I was overwhelmed or frustrated or sick to death (there we go again) of the daily hassles of caring for my kids and running a household, all while also trying to work.
I realize “open a vein” and pretending to shoot yourself in the head are not literal statements of intention to self harm. Rather, like me, most people use them to indicate frustration, annoyance or irritation. There is even a Facebook page devoted to just that urge. People who want to kill themselves, though, seldom do it because they are irritated. No. Self-harm usually comes from wanting to end the pain and hopelessness of crushing depression.
I live with people who know I sometimes feel that depressed, that hopeless. My husband even knows how I’ve thought I would make my exit. But treating self-harm lightly shows a complete lack of respect for the compassion he continually shows me, the compassion that helps pull me out of the darkest places.
What about you? Do you think references to self-harm are harmless? Do you use them yourself? Let us know in the comments.