Mormon Therapist on Cutting Self

I first noticed signs of depression and anxiety when I was in Jr. High School. I am now happily married with two young children. With the help of counseling and medication, I am as stable and well adjusted as the next girl. My friends would never guess I had such a rough patch in my life. The scars in my heart have healed, but unfortunately, the ones on my arms have not.

I cut myself. I now recognize the desperation I was feeling. I needed a way to cope. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t hold myself together. Cutting made it better. I was not treated for depression until I was 18. I resent my parents for not getting me help sooner. They could clearly see my wounds.

I now resent my scars. I hate them. I feel well and truly happy, but they are a reminder to me. Like the Scarlet Letter of depression. They haunt me. I don’t spend any time thinking about them until I notice someone looking at them. A doctor, my friend or my biggest worry, my children. I can handle anyone’s questions or gawking other than my children. My oldest is five and the questions are bound to come. I know patterns are often repeated and I wanted to teach my daughter healthy ways to deal with her feelings. How do I answer the questions? Should I be honest and straightforward? Elusive? Make up a really clever lie? Thank you for your help.

I am grateful that you wrote in about such an important and increasingly prevalent topic. Self-mutilation through cutting has become a far too common way for adolescents in particular to deal with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, etc. In some circles it may even be seen as a fad. It is more prevalent with adolescent girls than boys. I am sorry to hear that you suffered greatly during this time of your life. It is not uncommon for parents to be in denial or overwhelmed when they see their daughters cutting. Since they don’t know what to do or what they’re up against, many do nothing hoping the behavior is just a phase and that it will stop. I am glad to hear that you persevered, got treatment and find yourself in such a healthy place today.

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