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I’m Not Sure What to Do or Where to Go

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From the U.S.: I’m not sure what to do or where to go at this point. I wanted to try this out, see if I could get anywhere with this.

I’m a young woman with a past of self harm. I’m so confused about this. I would do it to relieve the pressure in my chest when I got upset at myself or a situation around me, or the nausea I felt. As I’ve had a problem with carrying guilt for a long time over things most people get over. When I told my parents a few years back while I was still doing it they showed little concern over it, thinking I was doing it for attention or to draw attention away from a failed test I had brought home earlier that day. And while I had cut because of the test, beating my self over not doing better, I had to agree as a child I loved the spot light.

I was told I had no reason to cut, having not been abused or neglected which I’ve been told is what causes self harm. This of course lead to a very lengthy conversation of them asking if I had been abused physically, sexually, or emotionally which I had not. So I refused to cut for a while, convinced it was all me.

Before, during, and up until now I had problems making deeper connections with people, especially of the romantic kind. I would feel physically sick, to the point of breaking off the interaction abruptly and damaging the relationship just to get away from the ill feeling, and this only increased after I stopped cutting.

I’m 20 now, a year and a half clean on cutting but not feeling any better. I get times where I don’t want to do anything. cutting myself off from my few friends and having almost no motivation to do anything but eat, sleep, and go to work. My anxiety is there, mostly a fear of upsetting others, and I don’t want to wake up sometimes. But I’m a generally happy person aside from everything, having the nickname ‘smiley’, and being considered the best in my position at work. I’m lost and I feel jumbled, as none of these pieces fit. Is this nothing? Or something? I don’t know what to do and can’t seek help. I’m scared to hear it is nothing.

I’m Not Sure What to Do or Where to Go

Answered by on -

A.

Yes, it is something. Although I understand why your parents might think so, cutting isn’t only an outcome of abuse. There are a number of reasons that young people get into the habit of cutting. Often it is a way to relieve stress. Cutting does cause the body to release endorphins and that does help a person feel better — at least temporarily. There are much better ways to get that same relief, but sometimes people don’t know that.

It also gives the person the illusion of having control and it can be a way to distract from emotional pain. And, yes, sometimes it’s a way to get attention or to feel part of a group in which other young people are cutting. One size explanation does not fit all.

I’m reasonably certain that all your pieces “fit” if I knew what all the pieces are. I can’t help you beyond that statement on the basis of a letter. I can only assure you that there are good but mistaken reasons why you got into cutting and why it continues to have some allure.

You say that you can’t get help. I hope that isn’t true. A few sessions with a mental health counselor would probably do much to give you peace of mind and some new tools for handling anxiety.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I’m Not Sure What to Do or Where to Go

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I’m Not Sure What to Do or Where to Go. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/06/22/im-not-sure-what-to-do-or-where-to-go/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.