This week and next week are finals week at my college. That, on top of other stresses I was having, like dealing with the seven other people I live with all being stressed out as well, has made me a mess. Last night I didn’t think I could make it through the night without cutting. I wanted to so badly, but I haven’t in a year. So I gave my RA all the sharp things I had to prevent myself from doing anything I didn’t want to do. That worried him, so he wanted me to go to university health services. When I went, they wanted me to stay the night. It’s so weird. I felt so much worse last year when I was cutting, yet I never ended up doing something like this. I feel like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I shouldn’t actually be here taking up space when so many other people are actually sick (the flu is going around my school). I don’t know what to tell my suite mates about why I was gone last night. Things have gotten so awkward between us already. I’m gay, and a few of them are very conservative religious. I can tell I make them uncomfortable. I guess I just need advice about how to come out of this in a better place mentally than when I went in. I’m afraid that tonight will be just as bad, especially if my suite mates find out.
You were right to trust your instincts and ask your RA for help. The RA was right to send you to Health Services. And Health Services was right to offer you a bed that night. You were not over-reacting. You were not taking up space. Cutting is an actual, serious illness. We are so happy to hear that you have not cut over the past year, that you prevented self-injury by courageously seeking help from someone you could trust, and that you want to learn how to be in a better place mentally. You should take pride in the way you took control of that very difficult night during that very stressful two weeks.
You were also right to contact the Trevor Project. If you ever feel that you might harm yourself again, please call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you.
As I stated before, cutting is an actual, serious illness. People turn to self-injury in order to deal with difficult, painful, overwhelming situations or stress. Some people cut to relieve that stress, or to distract them from it. Others cut to give themselves a sense of control when things in their life or their emotions seem out of control. Physically, cutting can cause permanent scars, infections and even life-threatening medical problems. Emotionally, it can cause feelings of shame, guilt and depression. In short, cutting can make your problems much, much worse.
If you feel like cutting, try an activity that does not cause yourself harm, like hitting a pillow, listening to songs you like, calling a friend, writing, drawing, running, exercise, etc. Whatever helps you to relieve the anxiety you are feeling. There are websites available including www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut. If you still feel like cutting, please ask Health Services to recommend a therapist who can help you. You could also call 1-800-DON’T-CUT, a referral service that can find you a therapist in your area. Or, of course, you can call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR, and we can help you fight this problem.
You do not need to report what you do or where you go to your suitemates. Your only obligations to your suitemates are to pay your portion of the living expenses and to interact within the living situation in a reasonably courteous manner. What’s yours is yours, what’s theirs is theirs. Everyone cleans up after themselves and plays some role in the cleaning of the common areas. Noise is made at reasonable volumes during reasonable hours. Don’t break things. Don’t behave in a manner that will likely result in the breaking of things. No dangerous or illegal activity. That’s it. If you spend the night at Health Services, you don’t need to tell them. You have a right to privacy. If you spend the night there again, and they ask you where you were, tell them a lie that makes sense. (ex. “I stayed the night at a friend’s place.”) If they find out the truth, they can deal with it on their own.
If you do not feel comfortable with your “very conservative religious” suitemates, try asking your university for a transfer. Explain to the Housing Office that you have a history of cutting, and that your current assignment is so emotionally taxing that you are worried about harming yourself, as evidenced by your visit to the RA and your over-night stay at Health Services. Maybe Health Services can help make a transfer happen. If you are out at school, as your letter indicates, you could reach out to your university’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) student organization for advice and support, if one exists. Striving to surround yourself with more accepting and supportive people will help you get to a better place physically and mentally.
It takes courage to reach out to someone as you have. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) kids feel isolated – like there is no one they can talk to who they can trust, who is like them, and who understands what they are going through. If you feel this way, consider joining your university’s LGBT student organization. You can also chat with other LGBT kids and young adults (ages 13-24) by joining our safe, online community, TrevorSpace.
Feel free to write us again, and remember: if you need to talk, you can always call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Trevor Project