I’m not trying to get attention. I don’t want to be labeled with depression or some other mental disorder. I used to be sad, it’s something I’ve dealt with since 5th grade when we moved here. Then my dad died when I was in 7th grade and that made things worse. I was always questioning my existence and I had suicidal thoughts. In 9th grade I was always having these ups and downs. Moments when I would be calm one minute and furious the next. I cried a lot. I started cutting myself recently and it’s helped out a lot. I don’t get suicidal thoughts anymore and I don’t get angry at everyone but I know cutting myself isn’t the best way to cope. All I really want is to be left alone, I want to be away from people and not worry about anything. I wish I could just be alone and be able to do what I want without people scolding me for it. Why is it such a big deal? I’m not hurting anyone but myself. 

A:  I’m glad you wrote in with your question. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot of difficult things in your life and you have found a way to get some relief. Cutting yourself might also give you a sense of control when it seems like you don’t have control of much else. I’m glad that you aren’t feeling angry and suicidal anymore, but yes, I agree that cutting isn’t the best way to cope. 

There are lots of other coping skills that you could learn that wouldn’t cause you harm.  Have you considered therapy? If not, I really hope you will give it a try. It is a safe, confidential place to pour your heart out without the risk of anyone knowing how you feel. In addition to offering unbiased support, therapists can also teach numerous coping skills that you could use in place of harming yourself. 

There are other things that you could try to help you manage your sad and angry feelings also. You could try exercise, meditation, yoga, journaling or get some self-help books from the library. The relief that you get from these things might not be as “immediate,” but the effects will last longer and be healthier for you in the long run. 

I’d also like to let you know that I have worked with many adults who wish they had found other ways of coping when they were younger because of the scars on their body now. It is a quick remedy, but the effects are permanent. I hope you will give these other suggestions a chance, and please talk to a trusted adult or call the suicide hotline if you feel suicidal again. Hang in there, it does get better.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts