How do I stop cutting?

Theresa Nguyen, Mental Health America

Cutting probably started one day, but got worse over time. To get better, it's also going to take some time - but it's possible.

To stop cutting, you might start thinking about why you started cutting in the first place.

We use drugs, cut, take things out on other people, and take things out on ourselves to bury pain we don't want to feel.

But the only way to stop using drugs, to stop cutting, to stop taking things out on ourselves to is face the pain we don't want to feel.

Once you face the pain, address the pain, work through it and replace it with good experiences....this is the recovery process.

Some Questions That Might Help to Start

What makes you want to quit?

How has cutting been harmful in life?

Have you tried quitting before? Are there strategies that worked really well?

What makes you want to cut? It is a situation, a feeling, a person? What can you do to deal with the thing that makes you want to cut - so you don't use cutting as a coping skill?

A Habit to Break

Maybe it's become a habit. Cutting overtime releases endorphins which is why some people who cut say that it feels "relieving" or even good. It also feels good because emotionally it's giving you something else to focus on, instead of the pain you're trying to avoid. Overtime - this process is like a bad relationship. It might seem nice at first, but really...it's hurting you. To get better, you have to break up with your habit.

One strategy is to consider giving your habit a personality (which it might already have). Name it and break up with it.  Try the prompts in this letter to start

Find Support

Trying to quit alone sucks...and makes everything harder. Do you have someone you can talk to who's going to hold you accountable? When I started, I didn't quit doing bad things because I needed it - because mostly I hate myself (this is why we're here). I quit because I loved someone else...and I loved them more than I loved hating myself. This is the person you want to be your accountabilibuddy.

Finding someone can be hard. If you need some support and you don't have someone who can be an accountabilibuddy, check out Reachout or the Inspire Community.

Also - I like therapy - because where else can you get someone who is literally hired to just listen to you. But..take the time to find the right person and think ahead about how you want to work on cutting back on cutting.  Also, therapy is expensive and hard to find...so it's not always possible. There are other supports out there that cost less, like Happy the App or connecting to a local mental health agency that gives free therapy.

Falling Back on Old Habits

Don't feel bad if you "relapse."  Relapse is not failure. It is part of the process.  If you didn't relapse, then you wouldn't have the opportunity to take what you've learned and try again. Chances are, the next time you try it will be easier than the first time. The worse thing to do is give up hope. Don't give up hope.

Treatment & Resources