Hi, my name is Rachel, and I cut myself. Even though you might not hear about it a lot, I'm not alone here.

You're not likely to hear about this from someone else, and you won't see it on TV, but it happens. You should still know about it. I'm going to explain why people cut, what to do when you know someone who cuts his or herself, and what to do if you cut yourself. 

I cut my wrists. It happens, probably more than you’d expect, but I’m not some special case or a poor girl with depression. I don’t even have depression. I’m just a girl who is going through a breakup or facing stress from school or worried about the future.

I have friends who love me and parents who care, but I still do it. It can happen to anyone, and you might not know if someone is going through this because many people seem a lot happier than how they really are.

Why cut?

Photo by Vinicius Amano | Unsplash

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To distract yourself from the thoughts in your head. To do anything rather than feel alone. To feel something other than internal pain. To make the pain inside real and physical. Because you feel numb and need to feel something. Because it’s a habit. Because it’s addicting. Because it just hurts. It hurts so much, and cutting your wrists is better than putting a gun to your head.

When I get stressed or upset about something, I dwell on it. It’s like a carousel of the same thoughts that just keep spinning through my head over and over until I’m miserable. By the end of the day, it feels like the thoughts are just screaming in my head. Cutting makes me focus on the physical pain rather than the emotional.

There is no catch-all reason for why people cut themselves. Sometimes it just happens. Life is stressful and everyone has their crutch.

When you know someone who cuts

If someone is opening up to you about a problem they have, they’re trusting you with one of their deepest secrets and you need to keep that trust. You may be scared or confused when you find about about it but you can't get angry, scream at them or instantly insist they go to therapy. This will only make them hide it from you in the future.

Remember this moment is not about you and they’re not doing this to attack you or offend you. They’re doing this because they’re hurting inside, and they need someone to love them and listen to them talk. Just be there for them.

As much as you want to, you can’t force therapy on someone. Yes, it’s great for people, and it might make them happier, but insisting that they go to therapy isn’t going to help if they don’t want to go.

If you see someone who you aren't close to with scars, don’t point it out. They’ll lie to you and just feel more ashamed about it. Just be nice to them. The world needs more nice people.

If you’re the one who cuts

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If you’re the one who cuts, then I’m so sorry that you’re going through this pain. I know how you feel. If you’re fighting the urge to cut, I want you to know that you are strong. If you’re feeling the pull of a blade, distract yourself. Go exercise, pick up a hobby, talk to someone, write out your feelings, dance, hold a piece of ice until it melts, or anything that makes you happy and keeps you distracted.

You are not weak if you cut, and you are not weak because you can’t take it a step further. You are strong because you try. And it’s okay to fail sometimes. You are loved. You are worth every moment you can squeeze out of this life, and you deserve so much better. And life gets better. It does, I promise.

Two things that have helped me resist cutting is exercise and rewarding myself when I don't cut. Many times that I’m upset and want to cut myself I’ll go for a run and put all of my energy into running. Then when I go two weeks without cutting my wrist, I reward myself with a yummy dessert or I buy myself a pair of socks.

When I went one year without cutting, I went on a shopping spree with my friends. Rewards help and once you spend a lot of time without cutting yourself it becomes easier to stay away. There were many days I wanted to cut but resisted because I hadn’t for a month and didn’t want to break my streak.

Photo by Nicole Mason | Unsplash

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Mental health is a big issue. Students are more stressed than they’ve ever been, and many people have unhealthy coping methods. It's a problem that many people don't want to hear about and even less want to deal with it. 

Why is everyone struggling and saying they're fine? Why can't we just admit that we're not okay? Why do we constantly feel the need to smile and pretend everything is fine? When is it enough? When are we going to say, “I am not okay. I am done hiding this. I've had enough"? I'm ready to say it. Are you?