The Mighty Logo

Please Don't Call Me a 'Cutter'

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I was in labor at the hospital about to give birth for the first time. I was scared, excited, anxious and overwhelmed with all that was happening. The last thing I wanted was for the nurse to look at my scars and say, “Oh, you’re a cutter.” In that moment, I could not address what she had said. But to all who see my self-harm scars and say, “Oh, you’re a cutter,” I would like to make some things clear.

I am not a “cutter,” a “borderline,” or an “emo.” I am not difficult, “crazy,” suicidal or attention seeking. Please do not see me and assume you know who I am because my mental health history is a bit more visible. Don’t assume to know me because of what you have seen portrayed on television, or because you knew of one person who self-harmed, and therefore know everything about everyone else who self-harms. And just so you know, many of my scars are not even from cutting.

I know self-harm can be difficult to understand and scary to address when you see it. I know that it’s a frightening thought that someone might be hurting so much inside that they turn that pain outward. I understand that it can make you feel awkward to be around. You may wonder if I will hurt you or someone else. You may feel uncomfortable seeing my emotional pain written on my skin. You might assume I have a personality disorder or that I should be institutionalized. I get it, I really do. Not understanding something can lead to fear.

Please know I will not hurt you. In fact, my biggest fear in life is accidentally hurting someone or something. I never want to cause anyone else pain. I do not have a personality disorder (even though some people who self-harm may have one). I have been diagnosed with depression.

You do not need to fear me. I am like you in a lot of ways. I binge watch reality television. I love hiking and gardening. I struggle at times with parenting a spirited toddler, but can’t get enough of the bedtime snuggles. I go on lunch dates with friends, but hate being in large crowds. I have been in counseling for years to address my self-harm and the history of childhood abuse that contributes to some of the urges. I am doing much better with support and using the coping strategies I have learned.

I am not, and never will be just a “cutter.”  I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend. I am an employee, student and volunteer. I am also a person who has struggled with self-harm. There is a lot of emotional pain behind my scars. But there is also a lot of strength, perseverance and survival. Look beyond what you see and what you may assume. I am much more than that.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead photo via Thinkstock

Originally published: November 2, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home