“I’ve been depressed and cutting myself for over a year. I’ve tried stopping multiple times, but each time has led to a relapse. My parents found out, got overly concerned, and started saying things that made me feel worse, such as how I was never going to go anywhere in life, never going to find love, etc. I understand they were trying to help me break out of it…but it made things so much worse. Now, I don’t know whom to turn to. I’m not close enough to anyone to share this with or ask for advice. My imaan (faith) is getting exponentially weaker, and I feel like I’m dooming myself. There are days when I just want to end it all because I feel like such a burden in everyone’s lives.”
It sounds like you are struggling with many overwhelming emotions. Cutting yourself has become a way for you to cope with the intense feelings you have about your life situation or your relationships. It sounds like you are desperate for an emotional connection, and the people closest to you (your parents) were not able to help or understand your struggle, so now you feel despair.
Most people who cut do not wish to end their life, but rather habitually cut themselves in order to reduce the pressure they are feeling. Cutting helps you lessen your emotional pain and temporarily feel better about yourself and your life. However, the result of habitual cutting is that your brain connects a false sense of relief from this behavior, so now you have the urge to cut every time you are trying to escape intense feelings. Cutting is not a healthy way to cope with negative feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. It is possible to stop. A commitment to learning new strategies to deal with your emotional pain will help you successfully stop your cutting behavior.
Your first courageous step forward should be to seek a counselor or doctor who can support you in ending your desire to cut. A mental health professional will help you identify the triggers for your cutting and help you develop alternative behaviors when you have the urge to cut. Some examples of positive coping behaviors are: breathing exercises, running, journaling, drawing, listening to music, reading Qur’an, making du`a’ (supplication), performing prayer, and so on.
Engaging in an alternative behavior as well as understanding your feelings and emotions when you have the urge to cut, will help you gain greater self-awareness. It can be difficult to stop a habitual behavior alone, and having support from a counselor will be extremely helpful as you find the inner strength to overcome your cutting and develop healthier ways of dealing with your feelings.
If you are feeling suicidal, you need to get help right away. Call the National Suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255, or talk to a trusted friend or mentor and share with them how badly you are feeling and ask for help. Encouragement from someone close to you will help you in seeking assistance from a mental health professional, who will help you overcome your depression and cutting behavior.
WebbCounselors is a collaborative advice column produced by two WebbAuthors, Amal Killawi, a Clinical Social Worker with a specialization in mental health and marriage education, and Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, a Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in premarital counseling. Please note that our counselors are not religious scholars and will not issue religious rulings.