How Can I Express My Concern About My Roommate's Self-Cutting Without Sounding Like A Hypocrite?

Published: June 16, 2015
Dear How Can I Express My Concern About My Roommate's Self-Cutting Without Sounding Like A Hypocrite?,

I've cut myself on and off for almost four years, but it wasn't until this morning that I realized how deeply it affects everyone around me. For awhile no one knew, but once they did everyday felt like a nightmare. People who I really cared about would see the cuts and tell me it made them feel sick. I didn't understand. Today my friend approached me and told me that my roommate has been feeling really down lately. Last night she cut herself for the first time. Immediately, my stomach dropped. Where? How deep? Why? How many times? I had so many questions and suddenly I understood how helpless it feels to be on the sideline. Why would she start cutting herself after seeing what a battle I'm going through? I've always insisted I know what I'm doing what I cut myself; I'm in control. That's not true though. Sometimes, I press harder when cutting my wrist where I think the vein is, it's okay if I hurt myself badly, I think. That's not control. It scares me that my roommate did the same thing to herself. It can kill you. How do I express concern without coming off as a total hypocrite? I am receiving treatment from a physician, counselor, and psychiatrist, so it's not as if I'm ignoring my issues altogether.

Dear How Can I Express My Concern About My Roommate's Self-Cutting Without Sounding Like A Hypocrite?,

TeenHealthFX does not think that you would be hypocritical to talk to your roommate about this. If anything, what you have to say to her about this issue has tremendous value because you, yourself, have been dealing with a similar issue.

FX recommends that you talk to your roommate about your experience with cutting. One of the best ways to explain it is to stress that the cutting happened during a time of great sadness and distress. And because these feelings were not being discussed or processed with anyone, cutting was the result. You could share with your roommate that now that you are in treatment with a psychiatrist and therapist, and now that you have people you are talking to for support and guidance in how to deal with the stressors in your life and feelings that have come up for you that lead to the cutting, you are not making the cuts anymore. You can then say to your roommate that you strongly suggest she speaks to a therapist and/or psychiatrist, as well, about whatever is going on with her that is contributing to her urges to cut so that she can find a healthier way of dealing with these issues.

By saying all of this, FX does not think you sound hypocritical, but rather are using your experiences to guide your friend to find a way to deal with her issues in a healthier way.

If you feel comfortable with your roommate seeing the mental health professionals you meet with, you can always refer her to the people you are seeing. If not, you can give her the following information:

  • If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

  • You can contact the Self-Injury Hotline (information only, not a crisis line) at 1-800-DON’T-CUT, 1-800-366-8288.