I am the only person in my family who believes in the lds church. I love to go church every Sunday. I love to play soccer and I am a cutter. That’s kind of hard to say without being disappointed and crying but living in an lds based place I’ve had a hard time finding answers or anything/ anyone to help.
I am only 13. I have been cutting myself with a pencil sharpener blade since like 6 months ago. I did it a couple times on my inner thighs and on my wrist. Since then I haven’t been able to stop myself. Going to church makes me regret it but the scars won’t go away and I feel like I can’t tell anyone because they would think less of me as a person. Sometimes I get strange looks and sometimes people even point. I don’t know how to tell my bishop or if I even should. I wouldn’t want my parents to know because they would be so ashamed of me. And what would my bishop think about me? Would he tell anyone? I want to stop but I don’t want people to think less of me. Does that make sense?
I’m so glad you found my site and had the courage to reach out and ask about getting help. This is mainly a site directed towards adults, but I’m always glad when teens feel they can post a question they need help with.
Cutting is a type of coping mechanism – something we turn to when we feel the need to soothe ourselves. There are lots of types of coping mechanisms: some are healthy and some not so much. Some people exercise when they are stressed or unhappy – this helps them feel better. Some people overeat, shop, listen to music, take a long bath, smoke, do drugs, read scriptures, journal, drink alcohol, read books, etc. You can see how the range of healthy to unhealthy can be all over the place. And just so you know you are not alone in what you are doing: cutting is not uncommon in teens your age struggling with low self esteem, depression, or other issues.
Cutting is not the most healthy way to cope – mainly because it isn’t the best way to deal with your feelings and it leaves the scarring you mention which you don’t like having. A lot of people think it has to do with wanting to kill yourself, which is usually not true. This is why you get a pretty strong reaction from other people who notice this behavior. Parents for example can be really scared when they find out their kid is cutting. They don’t understand why you would do this, they want you to stop and they don’t know how to help you. It’s a pretty helpless feeling for them. So sometimes the initial reactions you get might not be the best. This doesn’t mean people don’t want to help you or are ashamed of you.
Here are some of my recommendations:
- Show this response from me to your parents. Have this be a way to start having the discussion with them and asking for the help you need.
- If for whatever reason you can’t get yourself to talk to your parents, find another trusted adult in your life you can talk with. Most schools have a school counselor who would know how to start getting you help. Maybe you have a favorite teacher, your young women’s leader, your bishop, your home teacher, a friend of your parents, another relative like a favorite aunt/uncle, a neighbor…. Anyone you feel comfortable with. Other than the school counselor and possibly a school teacher, none of the other adults I mention are trained to know what to do to actually get you help with this problem. So they need to help you get connected with someone who is trained to do so. A professional of some sort that works with teens like you.
- Cutting is not a “sin.” It is part of a mental health problem. Therefore, if you ask for help from your bishop that’s different than going through a confessing and repenting process. Your connection with the atonement can give you great peace and comfort as you start working on being healthier – but I just want to clarify this is not something you need to repent from.
- Church activity and the gospel at large are great resources in our lives. And things like reading our scriptures, praying, and taking the sacrament are wonderful tools you can use in your life to feel connected to Heavenly Parents who love you while you struggle with life’s issues. However, these things do not solve mental health problems. For example, if you were running and broke your leg, reading your scriptures would not heal your broken bone. But it might help you cope while you’re waiting for the doctor to cast you and for the healing to take place. It’s the same with your brain. A lot of people start feeling “unworthy” because even though they have a testimony and are doing the basic things the church guides them to do, they don’t feel better. So they start doubting their own level of worthiness: whether or not they are good enough or doing enough to enjoy the blessings they expect would come when one is doing everything they should. This just is not how it works. There are many wonderful and worthy people in the world suffering from depression. Just like there are many wonderful and worthy people who break their leg.
- Start seeing a therapist you like. If your parents have insurance, then this helps cover the cost. If they don’t, there usually are community centers in most cities which will offer services at affordable rates. Your school might offer counseling. This would be part of the job of your parents helping you – to find adequate mental health care. Your job is to make sure you are honest and tell your parents whether or not you feel comfortable with the therapist. Because this will make all the difference for you to make progress.
This online article has a lot of great ideas as to healthy ways to move yourself away from cutting: How can I stop Cutting?
I wish you the very best as you move forward – and again, congratulations on being brave enough to reach out for help. That is a first great step to getting yourself to the place you want to be.