Kali asks: I took your advice and stopped cutting. I did submit a question last year about my cutting and depression, and once you gave me your advice, I immediately went to my mother and told her everything. She took notice on how bad my depression was and how much I was damaging my own skin, so she took me to a therapist. And I’ve been clean for a year and a few months. But, my depression only worsened. When I moved on to middle school for 7th grade, which was a few weeks ago, I already started to get bullied. I was actually used to getting bullied, because I was bullied since pre-school and up, but this was worse. The people who were bullying me actually wanted to fight me, to cause me physical damage. So, with me being the stubborn, naïve girl I am, I took up one of my bullies offers to fight. I waited for her and her boyfriend outside of school but they never came, so I left. And the next day I found out they were hiding because they were planning on jumping me. I told my mom and she immediately took me out of school, having me now being home-schooled. But now I’m thinking, ‘Should my mom really be doing this for me?’ I’ve asked her countless times about this and every time she’s answered with, ‘I’m tired of you always waking up in the morning, being afraid of what’s going to happen at school, I’m tired of you being in constant fear of going though the day at school, and I’m tired of you always worrying about what’s going to happen the next day.’ This has made me more depressed, and even more suicidal, but I’ve still never touched a razor, knife, or piece of glass to slash at my skin, nor have I done anything to get that sensation back. I just really need help, since I’m not seeing a therapist anymore and I would feel very uncomfortable talking to them about this situation. Do you think you could possibly help me?
Hi Kali –
I’m so glad you’ve been able to keep yourself from cutting! You’ve made my day, Kali!
But the big question is what you should do now. And you can probably guess what I’m going to say – two things.
First, yes yes yes, I’d love you to see a therapist. It’s great that your earlier work with one helped you gain the strength to stop cutting; there’s nothing I’d wish for more. But the thing about cutting (or drinking, drugs, or lots of other addictive behaviors) is that they slightly cover up the pain a person is suffering. So now that you’re not cutting anymore, those feelings are guaranteed to come up. And when you add the rotten awful terrible experience of bullying starting right when you begin a new school, that’ll just make it worse.
And although it’s clear your mother is doing everything she can to protect you, and is acting completely out of love, and although I could never argue that what she’s doing isn’t the best idea… still, her taking you out of school can’t feel good, and is very likely to add to the depression you were already suffering!
So I’m going to throw something at you that might sound just awful. Believe me, I’m always against bullying, and don’t agree with the people who do it. But there’s got to be something about you that made those jerks pick you out, out of all the students at the school. Maybe it’s that you’ve been bullied so many times in the past, so you carry some fear (That’s often what makes us dogs bark at strange people – we pick up that they’re afraid of us – and our barking just seems to prove their fears right!). Or maybe it’s something else. But whatever it is, I want you to get rid of it, so your life can become way happier and more fun.
So here’s my big question for you. I know you saw that therapist, and that it went okay. But is that the therapist you want to see, to work on this deeper stuff? I’m kinda getting the sense that maybe they’re not. And if that’s the case, then you should find another.
And if that person you saw before is a good therapist, then they should be TOTALLY okay with you finding another; in fact, they should be willing to help out in your search! I see this all the time (my human buddy, Handsome, is a therapist, and he refers people to other therapists often). So give them a call, and if it would be good to go back to them, that’s the easiest; but if not, see if you can get some suggestions from them for other ones. The more specific you can be, the better. Like “You were very kind, but I need someone who’s tougher on me,” or “I want a female,” or “I want someone who’ll do more role-plays with me” or “I want someone younger.” Those kinds of suggestions make their job so much easier!
And second… Oh, Kali, you know what I’m going to say! If there’s anything better than a therapist, to help someone through a depression, it’s a POOCH! If you’re able to keep one, getting a dog will change your life in ways you just can’t imagine! We can’t stop other kids at school from being creeps, but we can make your coming home afterwards so joyous! We’ll tell you everything that’s wonderful about you, in a way that no human can. We’ll give you every reason why you’d never want to hurt yourself ever again. And we’ll ground you in a reality so beautiful you can never deny it.
I hope this helps. As I said last time I wrote you, there’s no way I can tell you in a letter what I would say if I were your dog!
My friend, life is so splendid, so full of magical smells and sights and experiences. But you can’t appreciate them if you don’t let them in. And that’s what Depression will keep you from doing. So use a therapist, use a dog of your own, and use me… and let’s BEAT THIS THING! You have a wonderful mother who’s going to great effort to treat you with love. Let’s make a life that you can love as much as she loves you!
All my very very best,