Holy S**t. My Sister Cut Herself.

On purpose, I mean. I came home from classes today to my parents having a heart-to-heart with my younger (I’m 24, she just turned 22) sister. At first, all I got from any of them is that today, she’d sought counseling at her university and that my mother had come picked her up (Sis is a commuter who usually drives herself.).

She’s been seeing a psychologist bi-weekly for several years now - she’s had problems with depression since she was a young teenager. She hasn’t seen the psychologist for a month or two, as the woman is on maternity leave. She also sees a psychiatrist & uses Prozac. Saw the psychiatrist a few weeks ago.

I asked her, in my parents presence, what had happened. She said that she’d felt really horrible & had gone to the counseling center. I asked what exactly happened, if she’d had a crying jag during the day or something, but she said she didn’t want to discuss it.

I went into the other room, within earshot, while she talked with my parents. I happened to hear my father ask her whether she’s been having suicidal ideations; she said that she hasn’t. After they left to pick up her car at school, I asked her whether she’d tried to hurt herself. She’d cut herself on the arm with an Exacto knife, she said, a few times since this past Monday. She showed me the cuts, saying that they look worse than they are.

I’m kinda surprised I managed to stay so calm with her - she was afraid to tell me, actually: She didn’t want to freak me out. Right now, my hands are shaking and I’m tearing up. My little sister effing cut herself. I mean, I went through my battles with depression as well, and I did have suicidal ideations, though I never made an attempt.

We talked about why she did it (frustration, sadness, fear), and she said that the fact that she’d cut herself had scared her - that’s why she sought help at school. She hopes she won’t do it again, she says; she doesn’t want to. She said she had to throw out the knife - she did it in my presence. That comforted me a bit. I asked her whether I could look at her arms from time to time, to make sure she wasn’t cutting, and she agreed.

I now find myself scared to leave her alone without asking what she’s doing. After she told me, she went into the bathroom, then into the other room to read. Both times, I found myself asking her what she was doing. I apologized for that, but she said that she understood. Her psychologist just called now.

Man. What a thing to come home to.

I’m sorry you had to discover this, Cosmo. It must be a shock and very scary. To you, your parents, and to your sister, too.

I know other Dopers have cut themselves, or have family and/or friends who have. I hope some of them see this thread and can offer advice. I can only offer my consolation. I hope everything works out. You’re a good sister to be so concerned.

No real advice, but I remember when, in senior year of high school I was talking with a friend of mine at a party, and she told me that she had gone through periods of cutting herself. I felt scared, angry, concerned, protective, sad, and confused all at once. She was a fairly good friend, and I never had had any idea that she was going through anything.

One thing she did say was that she did it not at all to kill herself, but just to “feel” something. She was, for whatever reason, felt deadened to the world at times, and cutting herself was how she was able to feel alive.

So, no words of advice, but I can understand how you’re feeling I think.

Hey… i have be in both your sisters shoes and your shoes. Neither are a pretty sight to be in really. I would just say be there for you sis. me and mine don’t get along so i can’t do to much but since you do, which is wonderful, you can help her. from my opinion from when i did it i needed someone there to say let me see you arms, hands in my case, that i trusted and could talk to. i had someone that i hated, school guidence counsler, do it but that did no good becuase i hated her. since you sister odviously trusts you enough since she told you that is awsome. just pray for her and help her through it. keep an eye out though and make sure it doesn’t get worse. the way you talked you are sure she is suicidle but she said she isn’t. i know when i went through this i wasn’t suicidel just frustrated and such so don’t make to much of something that it isn’t. well i hope things get better.

I’ve also been in both positions, and while I could tell you all sorts of things about it, it probably wouldn’t help, and I’d rather not on a public message board when it’s too easy to figure out who I am here (and too many of my friends/family know I post here). If you do a Google search on it, you can find a lot of support and information, and you are more than welcome to send me an IM or email about it (both are in my profile) if you need to talk or want a more personal insight.

In the meantime, you and your sister have my thoughts and prayers. I know this is difficult, but so far you’re all doing the right things. Just make sure you’re getting the help and support you need too.

First of all:


This is one of THE best resources on the net for learning about self-injury.

Secondly, rest assured that SI is NOT the same thing as being suicidal. While it sounds contradictory if you haven’t been there, self-injurers cut because we don’t want to die. The physical pain gives us an outlet for the emotional pain, which otherwise would continue to build up and choke us and really drive us to suicide. It’s a coping mechanism, not a fantastically healthy one, but remarkably effective.

For the record, I cut for about 4 years. I stopped about 2 or so years ago. I can answer questions if you’d like, though I’d highly recommend looking through the above site first – it’s quite comprehensive, and I can only give you my personal experience with it (which I think was somewhat atypical).

You might want to check out the Massachusetts General Hospital Neurology Forums at http://neuro-mancer.mgh.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi

They have a forum on self injury (click on the M-Z range and scroll down.) It’s rather slow but may provide some support for you and your sister.

Having cut myself a few times in the past, as well as once even burning myself, I know this isn’t easy. I urge you to keep talking with your sister. Not in a badgering, “are you cutting yourself?” kind of way, but just in a “you’re my sister and I want to talk with you aobut this and that” kind of way. I know that for me, at least, I did it because I felt, forgive the cliche, alone. I would do it at times when I was sitting in my room, all mt friends were out doing their thing, and I felt like I was left behind on purpose for some reason. This, added to the pressure of classes and an ex-girlfriend that took a lot oonger to get over than it should have, let to the depression and cutting.

Obviously, her reasons were her own, but I still think that just talking with her and letting her know that there are peopel who acknowledge and love her is good.

Much like other posters in this thread, I used to cut myself as well. For me, it was a phase, marked by intense depression. I almost had a nervous breakdown. That was about two years ago. The scars have almost healed. I no longer cut, and don’t really think about it anymore on a day to day basis, but I don’t consider myself past that phase in my life. Even now just reading this thread, I can get a funny feeling.

I know that it was stupid, and I never did it for attention, I did it because, in some small way, it made me feel better. My best advice is to try your best to make your sister feel good, so that she doesn’t feel the need to cut herself. By talking with her, letting her know she is loved, (like it sounds you have been doing) is in my layman’s opinion, one of the best things that you can do, outside of professional help.

Of course, I wish both you, her, and your family the best of luck and the greatest of strength in working through this.

You guys,

In the immortal words of those fictitious wine cooler pitchmen, Bartles & Jaymes, I thank you for your support. :wink:

I perhaps made it unclear that my sister isn’t suicidal, and I know that cutting isn’t the same thing as an attempt on one’s life. She said that she did it for a lot of the same reasons that Dopers have mentioned, and for the overall reason that she felt she couldn’t talk to someone.

She’s a very quiet person, a very solitary person who was ostracised during her compulsory education years and who’s only just learning the social ropes. Hence, she doesn’t have many friends to confide in. Also, she’s a very, very deep thinker - wonders about everything, worries a lot. I think that those factors didn’t help the situation in the least.

She attended classes today & was home when I got home; she seemed a lot happier today, as she usually is when she goes through periods of catharsis (usually just a big bitchfest, with us comforting her, trying to help). She & my folks took off to see her psychiatrist about 15 minutes ago, and they’ll see her psychologist early next week.

So, I think it’s going to work out fine. Scary as hell, though. Again, thanks so much, you guys - I appreciate all the suggestions, help, and good thoughts directed toward my family. I’ll keep you updated, if you wish.

** Kaio**- thank you for the link, if just only for the first aid. :-/

gives me a little insight to something i’m ashamed of.