I used to cut but then I stopped. I was really good for a few months, but lately I’ve felt like cutting againand then tonight I actually did. Now what do I do?
– Lyann

It's tough to find yourself going back to cutting when you worked so hard to overcome your struggle. Falling back into a bad habit is known as a relapse, and relapses are pretty common when people are trying to make a major change. If you relapse, it might seem like you're back where you started. But change is a learning experience, and a relapse is part of learning a new way of doing things.

You can get back on track.

Start by thinking about what triggered the relapse. Think about the emotions or situations that led you to cut. For example, were you feeling misunderstood, lost, alienated, desperate, or angry?

Then remind yourself why you decided to stop cutting before. How did you do it then? Write down what worked for you. Reach out to someone who cares about you. Think about how to express powerful emotions in ways that don't cause harm. Some people turn to painting, dance, athletics, music, poetry, or keeping a journal as ways to get through the pain. Others find they need more support from a counselor or therapist — everyone is different and different people cut for different reasons.

It can also help to remember that you're not really back where you started — this time you've got previous success on your side. You know how it's done and, more important, you have done it. You can find the inner strength to do it again.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Back to Articles

Related Articles

How Can I Stop Cutting?

If you've been cutting and you want to stop, here are some approaches that might help you.

Read More


It can be hard to understand, but people who cut themselves sometimes do it because it actually makes them feel better. They are overflowing with emotions - like sadness, depression, or anger - that they have trouble expressing.

Read More

How Can I Help a Friend Who Cuts?

Some people cope by cutting themselves. This article helps friends understand why people cut and gives some tips on what you can to help your friend — and yourself.

Read More

Teens Talk About Cutting

We get lots of comments about our cutting articles. Because many of our readers' suggestions and comments are so helpful, we decided to put a few on our site.

Read More

Do People Who Self-Injure Have to Be Hospitalized?

Find out what the experts have to say.

Read More

Stress & Coping Center

Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.