I’m sitting at a restaurant with my five good friends from freshman year reminiscing about our crazy stories from the dorms when the topic of our old friend Brittany comes up. She lived down the hall from us and later admitted to suffering from severe depression. It got so bad that she ended up dropping out of school and moving back home because of it. We didn’t hear from her for a while, until one weekend during sophomore year she came up to visit for Cinco de Mayo. That night turned out to be a complete disaster.

I got so drunk I ended up blacking out and throwing up in my friends’ toilet for half an hour. Somehow I went to check up on Brittany. She was in the other bathroom crying hysterically and I saw her frantically grabbing a pink razor from the sink, saying that she had to do it. She just kept repeating that. I tried to talk some sense into her and I reached for her hand but I didn’t make it in time to stop her. She angled the razor to her wrists and as the skin peeled back, I saw blood rushing out of her veins. As much as I wanted to help her I couldn’t. Immediately after, I blacked out. All I remember is waking up on the floor of the bathroom with Brittany by my side. She was slumped over the side of the bathtub, blood dripping from her skin into the drain. Her eyes were in a complete daze.

When I look back on that memory, I cringe. Self-mutilation has never been something I’ve warmed up to. And having that memory still haunts me to this day. Yet, when I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t mad at her for exposing me to that. I wasn’t thinking how selfish she was for doing it. Instead, I was thinking how horrible of a situation she must be in and how much it sucks that people will judge her for doing it.

Unfortunately, people just don’t understand the reason behind cutting. They often confuse it with suicide. Cutting is not a suicidal attempt. And it’s definitely not a way to get attention. It is a form of release. A way to escape from the grip that depression has on you. Depression, at its worst, can make you go completely numb to the point where you don’t feel any emotion at all, even the bad ones. And in order to feel something, anything, you cut. It doesn’t matter that it’s pain you’re feeling — at least you’re feeling something.

I realized that there are plenty of people walking around campus who are dealing with this severity of depression and need a release just as much as she did. But I definitely do not condone cutting. As a result, I came up with a list of ways to hurt yourself without actually hurting yourself. I’m hoping that you’ll never have to use it, but let’s be honest: Life can get pretty gnarly every once in awhile. So if the day does come when you are absolutely fed up and need to get a release, look to this as an alternative and know that a better day will come. Eventually.

Wax something on your body. Whenever I’m having a shitty day I always feel ten times better after getting waxed because the pain inflicted on your body leads to a release of endorphins. It’s an immediate mood boost and sometimes it just feels good. For girls, the easiest things to get done are your eyebrows or arms. But if you’re having a really bad day, get your legs or your bikini done, or if you’re really feeling bold, get a Brazilian.

If it’s an emergency and you need something quick, go to your freezer and grab a block of ice. Hold it in your hand or press it against any part of your body and don’t let go. If you don’t have a block of ice, fill a bowl with a bunch of ice cubes and stick your hand in it for as long as you can stand. The bitterness of the cold will start to burn and numb your skin.

Go outside and sprint down the beach as fast as you can and as hard as you can. Don’t stop until it hurts to breathe and your throat feels like it’s going to bleed. This one’s a challenge because people who are depressed typically have a hard time exercising, but if you’re up for it, try it.

Blast music in your car and scream at the top of your lungs until it hurts. You might get a headache and you might end up crying but it gets the job done and that’s all that matters. My recommendations are any form of death metal or My Chemical Romance. But make sure you don’t do it in front of your driveway. People might think you’re crazy and flash you a dirty look.

If these tips don’t help, please don’t hesitate to get help from a professional.