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lizoza 01-15-2010 06:20 AM

Help with a friend who cuts
I've been reading this message board to try and understand better what motivates people to harm themselves. I have a friend who has been harming herself for a number of years. She stopped and when severe depression set in, she started doing it again.

I understand that in order to stop this self-destructive habit she needs to develop new coping methods with the help of a professional. However, she refuses treatment.

I talk to her and sometimes when her emotional pain reaches high levels she starts thinking about cutting. Sometimes when that happens, she tells me and I try to talk her out of it. I tell her that it's a temporary relief and that it won't help in the long run and that she'll feel the need to do it again. It works but rarely, and usually she ends up cutting. Most of the times she doesn't even tell me. After she cuts, I tell her that I love her and it's okay because she tried her best and that I'm not disappointed or anything. I really am not. She's in a lot of pain and I understand that this is how she's used to dealing with pain.

My question to you is if you had a friend that you talked to before and after cutting, what would you want to hear? What kind of arguments can I present to stop her that have helped you to avoid harming yourself? And what things would you want to hear after you've cut, so as not to feel even worse about yourself.


Diverdan8 01-15-2010 07:24 AM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
Hello lizoza,

People cut to relief pain but its also because they cant control what is happening around them with there life ( someone may have died and they couldn't stop it or Parents break up) things like that. When the level of emotional pressure becomes too high it acts as a safety valve - a way of relieving the tension.

[U]Other reasons could be:[/U]
Cutting makes the blood take away the bad feelings
Pain can make you feel more alive when feeling numb or dead inside
Punishing oneself in response to feelings of shame or guilt
When it's too difficult to talk to anyone, it's a form of communication about unhappiness and a way of acknowledging the need for help

Really it depends on the person and you will only find out if she wants to tell you.

Abit about depression incase your not sure.

Depression is often an illness. If you're depressed, the usual feelings of sadness that we all experience temporarily remain for weeks, months and years. They can be so intense that daily life is affected. You canít work normally, you donít want to be with your family and friends, and you stop enjoying the things you usually do.
If you're depressed, you may feel worthless, hopeless and constantly tired. In most cases, if you have milder depression, you can probably carry on but will find everyday tasks difficult. If you have severe depression, you may find your feelings so unbearable that you start thinking about suicide.
About one in 10 of us develops some form of depression in our lives, and one in 50 has severe depression. It affects not only those with depression, but also their families and friends.
The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most depressed people make a full recovery. Itís important to seek help from your GP if you think you may be depressed.

[/CENTER][/U]Psychological symptoms include:
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Low self-esteem.
Feelings of guilt.
Feeling irritable and intolerant of others.
Lack of motivation and less interest, and difficulty in making decisions.
Lack of enjoyment.
Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming someone else.
Feeling anxious or worried.
Reduced sex drive.
back to top
Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms, which include:
Slowed movement or speech.
Change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased).
Unexplained aches and pains.
Lack of energy or lack of interest in sex.
Changes to the menstrual cycle.
Disturbed sleep patterns (for example, problems getting off to sleep or waking in the early hours of the morning).

I think what you are doing is brilliant. you really are a true friend to her and she is lucky to have you. So dont give up :) But in the end she does need to see a doctor because medication will help her, I know how she feels about not wanting to go to the doctors. If she still feels like she doesn't want to go. why don't you see if she would go with you and do it together.

I hope this was of some help.


lizoza 01-15-2010 08:52 AM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
Thanks so much for your reply, Dan.
I have read hundreds (not an exaggeration) of articles about depression, suicidal ideation, and self harm to try to understand my friend better, since I haven't experienced those things myself. Some of the other causes for self harm that you mentioned do exist in her case (lack of control, numbness, punishing oneself).

I know that she needs professional help and drugs, but she adamantly refuses. Attempts to force her to seek treatment have proven futile and I don't think that I have enough influence over her to succeed in this. Her family is also incapable of handling this, it seems.

I wanted to know, from people who have harmed themselves, what would they want and need to hear when they are going through this. I don't want her to feel that I'm judging her in any way, but at the same time, obviously this is a self-destructive coping method that should be avoided. Is there anything to be said in such a situation that will make her either avoid cutting, or make her feel accepted and loved if she does cut?

Diverdan8 01-16-2010 03:14 AM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
To be truthful no.
Just keep doing what your doing. Most important thing is to try and remain as non-judgemental as you can.

I think have you have more influence over her than you may think because she reached out to you, she clearly has a very high trust for you and friendship. But maybe its a case of being harsher now. Where you say we are going to the doctor and i will come in with you if you like. Her first answer will be to refuses. Try giving her a choice she goes with you and see some1 and if she doesn't want to do it again then you wont maker her or that your going home. ( But don't go home just go down stairs and make a drink/watch some tv) Said this because your being harsher but she knows you haven't left her and that your still there for her.

A reason for not wanting to go to a doctor is because they do judge and you can hear it in there voices normally. Not saying all do but most do when it comes to something like this, and also being embarrassed that she cuts and is depressed.


lizoza 01-16-2010 05:36 AM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
Dan, thanks again for you reply.
I've tried to get her to the doctor. Whenever she says that she wants to die (which is about 4 times per day), I tell her that she must get help. She won't listen to me because she doesn't want to get better.
I'll do my best to not sound judgmental or anything.

Diverdan8 01-16-2010 03:52 PM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
She does want to get better but with depression its very hard to see the point of anything. you can become tired of trying to feel better if you have been fighting it on your own for sometime

lizoza 01-16-2010 04:12 PM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
Hi Dan, thanks for your thoughtful reply. It feels like you know my friend so well. She isolated herself after the depression set in (so as not to hurt people around her, and because she didn't feel like spending energy on people) and as a result, she was left to fight this on her own. When I came in and really started talking to her almost constantly, it's been almost a year since the depression kicked in. She's very tired and just doesn't think that it's worth fighting any loner.

Do you think she can come out of it without drugs and a therapist? I'm really afraid that since she's refusing treatment, this won't get better.

Diverdan8 01-16-2010 04:26 PM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
Truthfully no. Depression is a chemical imbalance within the brian which can only be re-stored by the brain, meds help fill in the blanks. she can more than likely do without the therapist as she has you to talk to.

I know what she means about isolating herself. I use to spend all my time saying that im sorry, then it got to the point where i didn't see the point or have the energy. its hard finding the balance.

lizoza 01-16-2010 05:45 PM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
Yeah, she says "I'm sorry" a lot. I'm trying to get her to see a doctor who can prescribe pills, but she says no. I told her that she can maybe try natural anti-depressants that she can buy herself, and she also said no.
I'll just keep trying to push her in that direction, I guess.

Diverdan8 01-16-2010 07:18 PM

Re: Help with a friend who cuts
Hardest part will be to get her to see a doctor but it will also be the most rewarding for you and for her because you have both achieved something

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