Hi, I have a question. For some reason, I have been very depressed and I don't know why! I cut myself (on my legs & wrist) but it makes me feel good. I really want to know what is wrong with me. I have bad anxiety. I can't breathe a lot when I stress. So how can I control myself and look at life as something good, rather than something screwed up? And how can I control the way I treat my body? Please help me!
Mill Hall PA
I’m so sorry to hear that you have been feeling very depressed and anxious and that life looks screwed up rather then something good. You show a tremendous awareness of yourself in recognizing your problems including knowing that you cut to try to feel better. You also show how smart you are in reaching out to Dear Trevor for help to try and find healthier ways to deal with the difficult feelings and issues in your life and I'm so glad that you wrote to us.
It sounds like things in your life have been rough for quite a while. Feeling depressed and anxious can be very painful and affect many things in your life. The depression can make you isolate from your friends and family, cause you to be tired all the time and take away your motivation to do things, make you not enjoy the things you usually like to do, make you sleep and eat much less or much more than usual and make you see everything in your life in a negative way. Sometimes the depression can get so bad it can make a person think of ending their life. You said you're not sure why you're very depressed. People can become depressed because of many reasons including things they don't like about or uncomfortable with themselves, family problems, difficulties with friends, romantic relationship problems, school problems and many other things. As you're experiencing, it can also be really hard and scary having really bad anxiety. Not being able to breathe when you're stressed sounds frightening. Please know that there is treatment for both depression and anxiety. It would very important for you to talk with a mental health professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist about the depression and anxiety in order to understand what brings them on and to get the correct treatment in order for you to feel better and as you say, get more control over you. Treatment can involve therapy and/or medication. You could ask a trusted adult such as a parent, relative, doctor, teacher or school counselor to help you find such a person. You could also have an adult contact The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists at www.aglp.org or 215-222-2800 to find a therapist in your area.
Though you cut to feel better, it very concerning because the longer the cutting continues the more harmful and dangerous it can become. It’s vitally important to your emotional and physical well-being that you immediately tell a trusted adult about the cutting so they can have you work with a counselor or therapist to help you take the steps necessary to keep you safe, to explore healthier ways to deal with the your depression, anxiety and stress and to discuss the many stresses in your life. People cut for many reasons. For some, cutting relives stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control, something that it seems to do for you, when things in the life or their emotions, like anxiety or depression, feel out of control. Still others say that they feel numb or “dead inside” and the cutting and shock of seeing the blood is a way of feeling something. And others cut as a way of punishing themselves. Cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, and sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control. There are things you can do to help when you have the urge to cut. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. That may be listening to certain songs, calling a friend or eating a favorite food. Sometimes, writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps a person to feel better. For some people, doing something physical like running outdoors or yoga can help relieve stress. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground. 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. Again, it’s very important to talk with a counselor or therapist about safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through. If you want to stop cutting, call 1-800-DON’T-CUT where you can be referred to a therapist in your area.
If you don’t have access to a counselor and/or would like additional support, please call the Trevor help line immediately at 1-866-4-U-Trevor. Our trained counselors are here for you 24 hours, 7 days a week. They are sensitive to and familiar with the issues with which you are dealing and can make an appropriate referral in your area. Often when we feel sad and anxious it helps to talk about things and connect with others who understand. Please don’t feel that you need to go through this alone and know that we're always here for you at The Trevor Project.