…and here’s why.
The simple answer is that I’m done with bodyart.
The not so simple answer is that I am done with bodypain, but possibly not done with bodyart.
In 1991/2, I became clinically depressed. Not just ‘down’, or feeling low, but full-on depressed which lead eventually to thoughts and actions close to suicide. One part of being depressed is a feeling of numbness, mental and physical. Many people, myself included, cut and otherwise self-harm at these times. It really doesn’t hurt at the time, and the seeing of the blood has a strange reassuring feel to it, as if only seeing that stream of red can assure you that you really are alive.
But cutting attracts all sorts of attention, is rarely well done when self inflicted, and the scars can remain – sometimes a good thing.
I got my first piercing back then – my left nipple.
It was the first of over 50 piercings I had.
I found in piercing a socially acceptable form of self-injury.
I found in piercing a way of feeling more real when I was in a depressive phase.
It was useful to me.
I never had a piercing because it was ‘cool’ or would look ‘good’.
I had piercings because I wanted to hurt, and if by paying someone else to do this it was more favourably looked on, then fine, that suited me fine. As for the variety of places I had done, in some ways I just ran out of space elsewhere. Did I keep an aesthetic ‘eye’ on things ? Dunno …
Odd .. drag a blade across your arm and people will wonder about your sanity, but get a piercing done in wherever and the response is more likely to be a ‘cool !’.
Why is it that bodyart and mental health have such close links when you look at the serious literature, yet in newsgroups it just doesn’t figure ?
For years, I would look at apparently ‘normal’ people with multiple piercings and wonder to myself “Why do you get that shit done to you ?”. In some ways I still do.
I had what a right-on PC person would probably call ‘issues’ with my life in past years, and that, coupled with my depression, made me one wierd guy. But feeling what passed for pain when I was pierced, or when I stretched a hole, made ME feel better. I may have looked worse to you or others, but that too was part of the Game Plan. Not that I had such a plan at the time, but I can see it now.
Bear in mind that during this time I was also drinking very heavily, had increasing amounts of work stress, and then in 2000, the hugest increase in family stress.
So when I was asked by Smeg to help out with the UPB side of things, I said yes. I was into bodyart at the time, knew what I was doing and was happy to chip in.
I pottered away, and I’d like to think that I didn’t mess anything up, but then something happened .. I got sober.
And when I did that, my mental health problems kicked in. For years they had been masked by copious amounts of alcohol, and now they let rip. If I was wierd before, I was wierder now. Very much so. But, following medication, and many months of thinking, along with a lot of writing, I worked through a hell of a lot of crap that had been locked inside my head for many many years. Part of this was also looking at where I have been, where I am, and where I want to go in terms of my life – and bodyart (bodypain) just isn’t on the list. Anywhere. Ironic isn’t it that I’m now in a position where I can get all the piercings I want for free, but I don’t want them.
I can’t even remember when I did last get pierced, but I’m pretty sure it’s not since I got sober.
And you want to know one of the reasons why I don’t ? It will hurt.
Being the ‘admin’ of UPB implies a level of commitment – and to certain people a level of authority – which I was not prepared to continue with. I bore very easily, and the subject interests me less, so I was bored. Better I quit. Yes, there were other small factors which may not have helped the situation, but I had made my mind up.
It had occurred to me that in time I may have been offered the UPB site to run as a whole, but I was ambivalent about that idea too.
I was posting less and less to the newsgroup too.
The fact is that bodyart was useful to me as a tool for expressing my emotions, even if those around me didn’t see the signals writ large over my body. But I don’t need those signals no more, and I don’t want any extra bodyart.
That chapter of my life has ended.