On Your Mind: Single mom fighting against urge to cut

on your mindNOTE: The question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to a local counselor at Ozark Guidance — in a completely anonymous way. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

I am a single mother with two children and I currently live with my mother. Over the past two weeks, my mother has begun to overly criticize me and has even begun to aim negative comments about me in front of my children. These comments are very hurtful and they are intended to be hurtful. I suffer from depression and even though I’m on medication, I feel myself slipping further and further with each negative and intentionally hurtful remark. I used to self-mutilate and have been recovered for almost two years, yet due to the constant comments I feel myself slipping back towards cutting. I can’t financially leave the environment and I’m afraid I will end up hurting myself. I am at my wit’s end and I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t take very much more.

Thank you for reaching out to ask for help as you deal with a very difficult situation. It takes a lot of strength to admit that you need help.

Let me start by saying that it’s NOT okay for your mother to talk to you like that. No amount of medication could make that hurt any less.

There are other ways to help in this situation; we like to call them coping skills. Coping skills are strategies we can use to help us deal with stressful situations.  In this instance, setting boundaries with your mother could help. When she makes a hurtful comment toward you, it’s appropriate for you to say “I don’t like it when you say things like this, please stop” or “It’s not ok to talk to me like that” or “Please don’t say things like that to me in front of my kids.”

She may or may not respond positively when you assert yourself, but continue to let her know that you do not find these comments acceptable. Try to remain calm and respectful during this time. You’re not attempting to insult her, but instead, you’re working toward standing up for yourself. If the situation does not improve, and you don’t feel that you can keep yourself safe, you may want to consider moving into a temporary living situation at a shelter.

You mentioned in your question that these hurtful comments are increasing your desire for cutting. You also said that you do NOT want to cut again, and I can feel your determination. Congratulations on two years without cutting. That’s huge!

Here’s my question for you: What did you do in the past to stop cutting? Is that something you could try again? Oftentimes people cut to release emotional pain. There are other ways to get the pain out: some people like to journal. Others find meditation helpful. You may find that what worked before isn’t helping anymore.

If that’s the case, please reach out. Ozark Guidance Center is here to help.  Please call us at 479-750-2020.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.