“Help, I started cutting…”


I just received this anonymous question:


“Just lately, I can’t stop crying.  I feel like everyone hates me or laughs at me for reasons that I can’t even explain.  I sometimes just don’t trust my own friends and feel like they probably don’t like me either.  I feel like I will be alone forever and I seem to regret everything I say or do.  I think I’m probably my worst enemy but I don’t know what to do to stop thinking this way.  I had a problem with cutting in the past and I’ve tried so hard to stop, but I slipped yesterday and cut my wrist 3 times, so I’m really panicking now because I don’t know how to hide them and I’m so angry that I did it, but I always want to when I’m upset.  I’m seeing a therapist and trying different medications for depression.”


I answered:


“My heart goes out to you.  Cutting is a huge cry for help.  It is not usually a para-suicidal gesture, as you know.  It’s really the thing that helps you hold on and NOT commit suicide.  Cutting releases endorphins — the body’s natural painkiller — and strangely seems to be a way to self-soothe.


However, it is a very serious gesture.  Your counselor needs to be made aware of the cutting, no matter how embarrassing.  And she needs to see the wounds.  If she does not feel equipped to handle you, she needs to refer you.  Ask her outright how equipped she feels in dealing with your issues.


It could be you are taking things too quickly in counseling, and the pacing needs to be slowed down.  And/or, you may need to be seeing your therapist more often.  It’s possible the meds may not be right, although they do take time to work.  I think you need to set up a contract with your therapist that you have a plan for the times you want to cut (e.g. being able to call her, a friend, etc).  


When you are feeling rational, come up with a list of things you can do instead of cutting –  things that will change your mood.  Some of the best are exercise, warm baths, cold showers, a massage, talking with a friend, being in nature, going to a movie, etc.


It’s difficult for me to offer you more over email, but you can get through this difficult period in your life.  I promise.


The work of counseling can be so painful.  You are in a ‘storm’ but there is a way out…this won’t last forever.”  


Follow-up Question: 


“Thank you for your advice.  I’m nervous about telling my therapist about the cutting though.  Will she make me go to a hospital or something?”


My reply:


“I can understand your fear.  Maybe you could preface it with, ‘My fear is that you’ll send me to the hospital, but…’  


It just depends on how severe the cutting is.  If it is life threatening then she may feel she has to.  But a client/therapist relationship should develop in such a way that you are not afraid to tell her anything.  Even things like, ‘I’m mad at you,’ or ‘It bugs me when you do this,’ or even, ‘I feel attracted to you.’


All these are clues for her to help you. Being honest can move you into a much deeper level of work.  If you don’t feel safe with your counselor, keep looking for someone you do feel safe with.”






One thought on ““Help, I started cutting…”

  1. Is it really possible to recover from hurting oneself? How does one even do that? I would like to think it possible but so far it has not been so for me.

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