I was diagnosed with a severe case of depression 5 years ago, and I have attempted suicide many times. Lately, I've reverted to cutting. I want somebody to talk to, but I'm really shy and I am not that good at opening up to people that I don't know very well because I am a complex person and nobody understands how I feel. So much has happened to me lately and still does every day and I'm about to break again. What do I do if I feel uncomfortable calling for help?
You are not the only person we at Trevor hear from who is shy about reaching out to call the Trevor Lifeline (1-866-4-U-Trevor) or speaking with others about issues like cutting and contemplating suicide. Know that you are brave just to reach out to us here at Ask Trevor and the very fact that you want help from others shows that you recognize that you have a problem facing you, and that you want to find a way to deal with it. That, Domino, is the first step!
First and foremost Domino, we want you to do whatever it takes to avoid cutting. Cutting is a serious health problem. Although many teenagers cut and perform other forms of self-injury because that can temporarily relieve strong emotional pains by substituing those for a physical form of pain, the acts of cutting themselves can cause damage that lasts far longer than the temporary emotional relief it might bring. I know you may not want to directly talk with someone, but the honest truth is that the BEST thing you should do if you feel like you are going to cut yourself or hurt yourself in any way is to tell an adult you trust about it, whether that adult is a parent, a teacher at your school, or a member of your community, including your doctor or a nurse, or an adult at your school.
I know that talking to someone can be a very hard thing to do - much harder than writing and talking about it. If you don't feel comfortable talking on the phone with us at The Trevor Project, or talking to a trusted adult, you might also consider doing instant message chat with a Trevor counselor on Trevor Chat. Go here for more information (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/chat)
There are a number of important reasons to seek help about cutting Domino. For one, it is possible when cutting to do more harm than you intended. Sometimes people accidently cut too deep, and cause severe bleeding. Cuts of any depth can become infected with medically resisant bacteria, which can be very hard for doctors to treat. The cutting can leave permanent scarring. Meanwhile, cutting only poses a very short-term solution to whatever is bothering you emotionally. If you don’t learn other ways to deal with emotional pain, it puts you at risk for bigger problems down the line, including major depression, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide. Also, Self-harm can become addictive. It may start off as an impulse or something you do to feel more in control, but soon it feels like the cutting or self-harming is controlling you. It often turns into a compulsive behavior that seems impossible to stop.
You probably already know a lot of that, because you already knew enough to reach out to us at The Trevor Project for help. Most people who successfully stop self-injury do so by talking with someone, especially to get at the root feelings of pain that lead them to choose cutting. Because you have been diagnosed with severe depression before, it would be VERY WISE of you to seek out professional mental health help - this is something tens of thousands of teens do every year for a variety of reasons, and there is nothing to feel ashamed about. Even though you feel that you are a complex person and no one undderstands how you feel, there is definitely a person out there - a school counselor, a youth pyschologist, a psychiatrist, or even the parent of another LGBT teenager - who will be very happy to listen to your story and will spend time to understand you over time and help you find solutions to the underlying things that get you down and cause depression. The best thing you can do is identify one person you trust to get you started in that process. Talking with such a person can help you not only identify what feelings cause you pain that leads to cutting, but can also help you figure out strategies to solve those problems.
In addition to working with someone else, there are things you can do on your own as well, in the meantime, that help deal with the emotional pain that leads to self-injury. One of the main reasons people self injure is to express physically pain that they don't feel words alone can express. However sometimes, it is possible to alleviate some of this pain by expressing your feelings in other ways. It helps many people to write a journal where you talk about the things that bother you in your life - or you can write poems, or even just lists of words that express your feelings. You can even draw or paint representations of these feelings. It might sound silly at first, but these forms of artistic expression can become valuable outlets for everything you feel inside.
Also, you may be familiar with the fact that people who are trying to quit smoking where a nictotine patch to mimic the sensations of smoking, without as many harmful effects. There are similiar techniques available for cutting.
There is one more suggestion we at the Trevor Project can make. If you feel uncomfortable TALKING with a person about cutting, sometimes it is enough to WRITE a long letter to that person, explaining the feelings and issues that you feel shy about vocalizing. Consider what you would want to say to someone - what questions you would want to ask and what feelings you would want to express. Write all of those down (or type them) and give that letter to the person you trust most, just like how you wrote to us here at Trevor.
I know this situation must feel incredibly isolating and hard to deal with Domino, but we admire your bravery for reaching out to US and we hope now you will find a way to reach out to someone in your community for the help and guidance you DESERVE.
Your Friends at The Project.