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I Sometimes Cut


I’m struggling with Anorexia and depression. I sometimes cut when I get overly depressed or become stressed to an overwhelming state. What should I do?

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Eating disorders such as anorexia are potentially life-threatening conditions, and depression can be lethal too (when it pushes people towards suicide). While most of the time, cutting is not intended as a suicidal gesture, people sometimes miscalculate and do end up killing themselves. For all of these reasons, plus the simple reason that you are probably miserable and stuck in a negative place, I hope that you will do all you can to get appropriate professional medical and mental health care. Make an appointment to see a psychiatrist (a specialist medical doctor who treats mental health conditions) as a first step. If you can’t do that, you should be seen by a medical doctor, at any rate, because it is important that your physical health be assessed and any issues found be treated. Eating disorders can play havoc with your body’s systems. A medical doctor can also address your depression, thorough the use of antidepressant medications. You should also seek out an appointment with an experienced psychotherapist too, because psychotherapy will be able to offer you additional important assistance in coping with your pain. Most medical doctors will be able to recommend local specialists, if you don’t know of one already. One form of psychotherapy in particular, known as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, would be worth asking about. This is a therapy designed for people who self-harm. It respectfully addresses the issues that cause people to choose to harm themselves, and also teaches more positive ways of managing overwhelming emotion. Professional assistance of this sort can be expensive, but if you are truly dealing with the conditions you’ve described, it will be the only practical way for you to gain access to the help you need. Please do make and keep these appointments.

More "Ask Dr. Dombeck" View Columnists

  • Jennie Miller

    I have cut my wrists because I hurt and I feel worthless. I have been hospitalized because of cutting and my depression. My answers from the doctor's are that I am doing this for attention, and this is not true. I just feel like life is not worth living, in the life that I have and there is no other way out, but to just go away and have peace. I am sad and unhappy all the time. My life is miserable and so am I!

  • Anonymous-1

    My friend killed himself and it hit me really hard! I became anorexic and also began cutting because the pain was too overwhelming. After he died, there was no reason to eat, sleep or even live! I have often contemplated suicide and every day I consider it more and more! I have not been to a doctor or phyciatrist because I don't want my parents to know the state I'm in...I don't want them in my life. I can handle it myself!

  • Diana

    Jennie, I too cut myself and I too have heard the comment that I am doing it only for attention. Anyone who thinks that way obviously does not understand what is happening to me or how I feel, else they would not say that. It very much trivializes what I experience and the pain that I am feeling at the time that I am doing this behavior and only makes me feel worse. Obviously, if I am cutting myself, I already feel worthless, and being told that I am manipulative does not help in any way but only reinforces the actual reasons that I am cutting myself. In short: you need to get a new doctor!

  • Kristie

    I sometimes cut, people say i do it for attention or for stupid things and say im emo... yes i do cut but i have reasons for doing it and i dont do it for suicide i do it for relief... no one seems to understand why either.My mother is trying to do professional help an it is makeing it worse. I want her to leave it alone its my body, my choice not hers.The counsouling is makeing it worse because i have to bring up why i do it which makes me depressed and i go home and cut..

  • Anonymous-2

    I have cut as well a number of occasions, I know why I like to do it and why I still think to do it even when I am not. I stop for a while because it bothers everyone else around me but the way I see it it is my own desision and if they could do something to help me to cope then do so otherwise bud out. I do what I need to when I need to why I need to and even when I'm not I am still thinking it and wanting to is that just as bad? I know to myself that I will again and each time I think of suicide not manipulation! If I wanting attention I would yell look at me If I wanted to manipulate people I wouldn't use that. I do this for me and only me until I can cope better.....

  • Cathy

    I am a widow, bipolar, and raising a child by myself. I started cutting after the death of my mother about 8 years ago. She died a horific death in the hospital. It was one mistake after another. We won a wrongful death claim, however it does not take away the daily thoughts and nightmares. I cut when I can no longer emothionaly handle the thoughts. My husband died of cancer, I could accept this, it was gods will. My mother just broke her leg and ended up dieing after amputation and gangreen. I wish I could relieve the pain another way. I do see a therapist everyother week, and my doctor once a month. I am on so much medication I wonder if it is all necessary.



  • Megan

    I totally understand. I have also cut and still do. i dont do it all the time..just when i feel like there is no way i can forget the plan for just a second. im in counciling now. but i really dont think its helping. but its always worth a try. they had to tell my mom, and i have to get on meds.. but she is the only one who knows, schools ruff on me, people tend to pick on me and make my life hell when ive done nothing to them. but talk to me if you want, i want to help. good luck.

  • Jimmy Lazarowicz

    I've been a cutter for about well since my 9th grade year, and that has been 13 years. Even though I cut myself to relieve the pain that most of you feel, I also cut to punish myself for what people do to me and to just give me enough pain so I do not comment suicide. Right now I got myself into trouble (LAW), so for all of you that are younger then me - GET HELP!!! IF you want to email and talk - please do so...

  • Anonymous-3

    my girlfriend and i have been friends a long time but started seein each other a little back ago. she has been tru so much an allot i sill dont no. she is still cutting herself and making herself sick after nearly 6 years. i want to help . i cant not help . but i dont no wat to do . she cant talk to me wen she hits a bad patch and i cant tell her not to cos i used to do it myself and i mite have a little bit of a eating disorder to . if any one reads dis an has any tin dat mite help id be very gratefull if you sent it to me at tanx

  • Mary

    Uncertain as to why i don't feel it when i do it but i have cut and burn and hit by car the list goes on for some reason i put myself in harms way when i am depressed upset or to simply get some of the rage out i have had stitches around 300 to be honest and i tend to do it in places that can be covered easily stomach, upper arms and legs and things that might appear to be accident my family all lives in Ohio and i live in Florida and married for 10 years to a man i am sure cares but just feels its something i have to deal with and basically my problem which it is however i do feel very alone for the most part and have no family or friends, so i tend to distant myself from everyone. I have overdosed several times i would just get so depressed that i didn't care if i woke up or not i suppose some would say i am lucky to be alive? Sometimes i don't feel very lucky. The hardest thing for me is i am so secretive and sometimes hurt my husbands feelings not being interested in life or wanting to go out things of that nature the only good reason that i am still alive is i do care for a aging chow chow and have a bird i do care for them but will never get another dog after she is gone she is great, i just don't want the responsibilty of another dog and the bird well my husband should be able to take care of him he loves the bird and hopefully i will snap out of this depression. Another big problem i have is i do tend to be upbeat and so forth at times just so no one thinks i am unhappy i have a real problem with anyone knowing the true me i suppose i tend to cry alone i tend to keep things to myself and i tend to pretend i am happy when in fact i am miserable most of the time but i keep holding on because i don't want to leave my husband behind and don't want to hurt him but if something appears as it could ba an accident then that would be different but i put it off and hopefully live long enough where i may acturally be interested in life or at least long enough until my old dog dies than i wouldn't feel so trapped................I know this stuff isn't nice or correct way of thinking but at times this is what i truly think and feel. My fear is that i am going to kill myself one of these times and not mean too. I have had several close calls so i realize my reasons are founded i don't believe i have ever gotten the help i need at a hospital unfortunately i tend to try to help others when faced in that situation it tears me up to see others in pain and i end up focusing on them this has been told to me several times and i say i can't help myself i would rather try to help someone else than think about what goes on in my mind and my pain in which we all have i am just not as good at coping as most. Interested in anything you have to say as i do check emails every day inbetween taking the dog out and getting the bird breakfast. Thank you for all your comments i understand a great many of yours. I don't pretend to understand some things i don't even understand myself.

  • Darlene

    I understand u all and have alot of friends that are cutters and I am trying my best not to cut. I am a 35 yr old wife, always in pain and knowing I can never bare children. It takes my heart away to know there are so many ppl out there like me and sometimes I do go beyond cutting. I have never found any help besides talking to my other cutter friends they r the only ones who understand everyone else judges me. But I sit here sometimes all alone for over 14 hrs a day in pain so I cut to relieve the thought of where my pain is and think of ways to end my life. I know what u all mean. This is hard. Darlene

  • Carrie

    It drives me nuts when those who dont cut judge the people that do. they can never understand the pain behind it. they can never understand that emotional pain is so much more consuming than physical pain. we hurt ourselves to take our mind off the emotional pain for a small instance in time just breifly enough to catch our breath and await the next onslaught of agony. i think i do it for some measure of control, "if you hurt me then I can hurt me more" it is the only way to find peace when my brain wont stop screaming. one day hopefully people will understand us, but until then i guess that we are condemmned to our world of quiet shame and sharp objects. hugs to all who understand, caz

  • Hugo

    It feels good to know there are lots of people out there like me -- a cutter. Just to have a sharp object that i can easily access is pacifying enough. I have yet to meet people who can understand us and not judge as as crazy and immature in dealing with life. I think it takes one to understand and emphatize with one. I have tried to do away with cutting but i can't seem to fully succeed. I find ways and means to hurt myself physically. If i try to turn away from cutting, i face other alternatives -- scalding shower, for one. Much thanks to you who share their innermost thoughts

  • some one else

    i use to cut and i thought it would help and i even burnt my self with a lighter when i couldnt find anything else but then i took up smoking and every time i get depressed i have a cigarette and it makes me feel better i dont know how but it does. i am now 16 and havent cut 4 2 years.

  • Shinigami

    yeap, well, as everyone here and as a "pseudo-suicide" jeje, I get what you are saying. I´m not even american, I´m actually from the "south" as you call us latins jeje. And I´m pretty sure this.. uhmm.. "situation" (in appears in any country around the globe) so, "we are not alone" jeje.

    Just a way to focus and "have control of your life once".

  • cutter

    just a comment - especially to the young people on here... back when i started SI'ing as a child (hitting my head on the wall) and then as a teenager (cutting, burning, etc), nobody even knew what SI'ing was. it took until i was in my 20's before i was taken to an emergency room for help and even then i was accused of attention-seeking. even though i often needed to, i eventually stopped going there because of doctor's rude comments and sometimes what i consider punishment for "wasting their time when they had "REAL" emergencies to tend to" (such as stapling my wounds together so they didn't knit properly, or doing the stitching without freezing it first). i have endured people asking me if i've gone through plate-glass windows, been mauled by animals, been in car accidents, etc. because i've SI'd to the point where i look like i've been through a meat grinder. i've been ridiculed for wearing heavy clothing in the summer heat. i've been thrown into psychiatric wards repeatedly by well-meaning but confused doctors who think it's a suicide attempt, or been told by them that i'm a hopeless case.... not to mention the people who think i'm completely crazy or won't let me near their children because they think i'd harm them.

    you'd think that with all of that, i'd give up... throw in the towel cuz what's the point anyway - especially now that i look like some sort of mutant that has to hide all the time and nobody understands.

    well, somebody (a psychiatric nurse) DID finally understand and with years of patience, guidance and acceptance i'm finally at the point where i hardly ever do it anymore (like once a year or less). yes, i still have trouble being around people and covering up. i still don't trust doctors very well. and yes, sometimes when it becomes overwhelming i still lose it...

    my rather lengthy point? DON'T GIVE UP!! you're NOT alone - there are lots of us out there. if the first person doesn't listen or doesn't understand - keep trying. if all else fails, there's a really good and understanding webpage called 'secret shame (self-injury information and support)' that is run by people who've been there and can provide resources.

  • Becky

    reading everyones comments makes me feel so much 15 and i started cutting 3 years ago. i know it seems young but it was the only thing i could do to deal with the stress and pressure of what was going on in my life. eventually i got scared by the fact that i felt like i NEEDED and stopped, at least for the most part. but i was still scared, especially when people asked about the cuts. it took a really long time for me to talk about it but when i worked up the courage to do so i was glad. i told some of my closest friends and they couldnt have been more supportive. i have yet to tell my parents but the scars are fading and i rarely do it anymore. im hoping my parents never have to know.

    but to those of you still dealing with this on a regular basis, keep strong. its tough to avoid it but if you can take it a day at a time, it gets easier. i found that writing poems about how i felt, why i cut, helped me get through it. heres an example:

    The scars have yet to fade,

    A constant reminder of my past.

    Dark against my ghostly skin.

    The emotions brewing just below the surface,

    Have risen once again.

    The blade smiles in my hand,

    Glinting in the dying light.

    My eyes squeeze shut,

    Tears trickling out.

    Cold, sweeping relief washes over me,

    And I open my eyes once again.

    Red pours from my wrist,

    for the first time in months.

    I swore I’d never do it again,

    Swore I’d never go back to that.

    But I can’t help it.

    I’ve yearned for the release,

    Prayed for the liberation of control.

    And now that I have it back,

    I wish I’d never had it at all.

  • Philip C.

    Yes i am suicidal and thats all i can say i cut myself im jumped regulary everyone thinks im makeing it up because i dont have freinds who back me up you people say get your freinds to help you out but what happens when you have no one yopur forgetting that alot of people whom do kill or attempt to kill dont have freinds thats another reason after i have been jumped yesterday i had alot to drink i took a shower and now im considering takeing my own life i have no one no one helps me they act as if i dont excist what should i do?I am in tears right now.

  • beth

    i am 15 and i have been cutting since i was twelve and a half... i have been raped twice, and molested three timess.... that was when i first started cutting. everyone calls me crazyy, but it is the only way to handle things... i NEED help.

  • KJF

    I'm unemployed and a fugitive from the law, lost my wife and kids. Facing a long time in jail if the authorites catch me. I feel I have no meaning or purpose, my family knows of very little, because I keep them in the dark. They have helped me in numerous ways as well as times, I'm a burden to all who know me. One day I'll contemplate suicide the next violence, I'm not a violent man unless prevoked, which is very rare. Cant find help or a solution. I'm lost. Realizing that I have an on going problem I dont know where to turn maybe I should turn myself in but the system is not effective for me, I've been incarcerated numerous times with the the same result every time, a new way a beat the system. I will remain unnamed. I needed to just get this off my brain. I have no computer of my own so I guess this is pointless. KJF Arvada Co.


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