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Maybe I Won't


I started cutting when I was 9 or 10 and I just stopped a month ago. My parents know and so do a couple of my friends. My question is I still think about cutting almost every day. Just yesterday I saw a knife and just had a fight with my sister so I was going to cut but for some reason I didn’t I’m glad I didn’t.

Victor Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, The Jed Foundation answers:

Cutting is in many ways similar to other impulse control problems/compulsions that people deal with. For many of these problems-even after you have gotten the behavior under good control, the impulses can remain with the person for a long time. The first thing you can do is to accept the fact that this will happen-it should not frighten you because it is quite natural.

It will probably be helpful to try to be aware of the common triggers for the urges and to think of ways of avoiding those situations and circumstances as much as possible. You should also use the same kinds of techniques you probably used to stop cutting-substitution and distraction are often helpful. If the urges are still strong (or if you should start cutting again) you should discuss this with a counselor or begin therapy. There are also medicines that can help to diminish the intensity of these urges-but you should try talk-therapy first.

Just another comment-many people with compulsive problems tend to think in “black and white” terms-so if these problems are not 100% better, it might feel as if you have made no progress at all. It is important to be realistic about your progress. Keep working to improve and if you are having trouble doing this alone, get help from a therapist. But recognize that it will probably take a long time for these urges and impulses to be completely resolved-focus on the progress you’ve made.