• Maz Connolly

To CUT or Not to CUT; That is the Question

Updated: Feb 28, 2018

Crying. For many people it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. They cry when they are sad, happy, angry, frustrated; you name the emotion and there is probably someone out there that has shed tears in response to it. However, that seemingly natural bodily response doesn’t come easily for everyone; while these people may experience the same emotions as everyone else, for reasons unique to themselves, they are unable to shed the tears needed to release them.

An inability to cry may stem from childhood. It may come from years of trying not to show our emotions. It may even be that we see crying as a sign of weakness. Whatever the reason, instead of crying we trap the emotions we experience inside us, allowing it to build up and become more and more overpowering. With no healthy way out we find other ways to release this toxic build-up of energy and so instead of crying we turn to self harming techniques such as cutting as a way to cope.

Despite many common misconceptions, self harm isn’t attention seeking behaviour. It isn’t a cry for help and it certainly isn’t an attempt at suicide; cutting can actually prevent someone who is suicidal from acting. Like tears, cutting is a release of pent up emotions that have been trapped in the body. The calm feeling that others get once they have cried and wiped away their tears we get as we wipe away our blood. All the pain, anger, loneliness and distress is allowed to flow out of us so that we too can experience that moment of calmness; at least until the cycle begins all over again.

Cutting isn’t a healthy alternate to crying. Tears have medicinal properties. Through our tears;

T rapped

E motions

A re

R eleased

S afely

If we can’t cry being able to recognise when our emotions are threatening to overwhelm us can help us plan healthier ways of coping with those emotions rather than cutting. These coping methods will be unique for everyone and they may take some practising before they become effective, but they can help to provide the time and space we need to calm down and reframe our thoughts. Some examples include;

  1. Lie down somewhere safe and take long deep breathes – just concentrate on breathing.

  2. Talk to someone – whether face to face, on the phone or even on a web-chat, sharing how you are feeling can help reduce the intensity of your emotions.

  3. Distract yourself; music, writing, painting your nails; anything that takes your mind of wanting to cut, until the emotions pass can he helpful.

  4. Exercise – go for a walk, a run, a bike ride or maybe even dance; emotions are energy so why not burn them off?

  5. Identify the emotions you are feeling and write them out repeatedly on a piece of paper that you can then rip up and throw away.

  6. Have a cold shower – nothing quite grabs the attention like freezing cold water raining down on us!

  7. Do some household chores – like exercise, it can distract and help burn of surplus emotional energy.

  8. Wear an elastic band around your wrist and snap it every time you get the urge to cut.

  9. Use a red pen or marker to draw on your arms, or whichever part of your body you normally cut.

  10. Make a list of good qualities about yourself and repeat them over and over. Even if you can only think of one, it’s enough to start a relaxing mantra.

It’s ok to cry, there is no need to fear the tears. Crying is not a sign of weakness, it’s a natural bodily reaction. However, cutting (or any self harm) is not a sign of weakness either. Different people handle different things, in different ways. It’s part of being human – we have the power of free will and choice.

But if cutting is the choice you make, before you act on your old habit automatically, perhaps its worth trying a metaphoric 'CUT' first...

C hallenge

U nhealthy

T houghts

You never know it might just work!

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