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please help, 14 year old self harming

(31 Posts)
woahthere Mon 22-Jul-13 23:58:11

and I feel utterly helpless and useless. He first did it a year ago but not too badly. I took him to see gp and we were referred. Son convinced them it was one off. About 6 weeks ago we saw he had done it again but a bit worse and then for the next 2 weeks we went through hell with him. Then he did it again but really badly...took him to see gp again begging to see somebody as it was so bad all over his torso, shoulders, legs, arms. we now have appointment but it took 4 weeks grrr. We had a great weekend with him this weekend, really fun time, he was happy, so was everybdy else...truly it was lovely. Yesterday had chill time, then barbeque etc. Last night I thought i could hear stuff going on but went in to check him and he looked asleep. Today we found he was on internet during night (he had sneaked a tablet that was hidden in a wardrobe as he's had internet usage banned when alone) and saw he'd been looked at group for self harmers with extremely disturbing images of self harm and other things too. I told him off (not about images as I didnt see these till later)because he had sneaked the tablet and been on it until 2 in the morning. He went up and i had a funny feeling. I went up and told him to get out of bathroom. He came out, I pulled up his top and he'd been cutting. Then on further inspection we saw he'd been cutting for a fwe days all over his shoulders, thighs, groin....so grotesquely, just awful. and burning himself.

Somebody please help me. I dont know what the fuck to do. He hates me. He has no reason for doing it, ie nothing has happened and I am 99% sure of this. I am fairly sure it is hormones plus personality plus being very suggestible (lots of the things he has done have happened after he has read about them or seen a documentary...the most recent trigger being the documentary called 'dont call me crazy'. The gp doesnt seem to be too alarmed and neither does his deputy head. The helplines obviously hear it all the time. I am scared to fuck he is going to get worse and really damage himself, and even if he doesnt he is going to be scarred for life and getting worse. Nobody wants to help. Me and my partner feel like we are losing the plot ourselves and are also worried about our other 2 children. I just cant believe that nobody cares that my child is hacking himself up. He is a top student, and gets on well with boys in school, but does this when hes home.

woahthere Sun 04-Aug-13 23:58:11

Oh I'm so sorry CelticGreek. I hope you're ok, I know it is our children we worry about, but to be honest I feel like they are being worried about so much and it is actually something that affects the whole family. Ive lost 16lbs in weight the past few weeks because my appetite has completely gone, I'm finding myself either blank or crying at people (chopping up fruit at playgroup...how embarassing) I think the truth is that I'm a bit traumatised at having found my son slashing his wrists up.

We saw somebody at CAMHS this week. It wasn't terribly groundbreaking or helpful, but we are in the system now. It will be a long term thing I know that. My son has had improved mood this week, and we've managed to get him out and actually doing things! We are being very matter of fact about things, and I think it does help to remove some of the drama and realise that, physically it is a very unappealing thing that they are doing...because it looks awful and because our natural reaction to our children being in pain is that we want it to stop. I suppose at the end of the day, a lot of people self harm in different ways...even drinking too much is self harm. We just need to find a way for them to deal with their anxieties in a better way, or less harmful way.

Does your daughter go on the internet privately a lot? If she does, just be careful what she looks at and check her search history. There are a lot of pro self harm sites and 'trigger' sites.

Try and keep calm, dont do what I did and scream and shout and slap your child round the face. (sounds like an awful thing to do, but honestly I think it was pure shock at what he'd done). I hope you get help soon, and I can really recommend reading about it a lot...it really does help, I feel like I've learned so much and can help my son more now than before.

I'm talking too much....I'm here for you, it can be hard to talk to people about so you can talk to me anytime xxxxxx

CelticGreek Fri 02-Aug-13 22:01:22

Hi, I've just joined this link as my daughter has recently started self harming; found out today, so I'm desperate for info so i can do the right thing for her.

Firstly I hope everything settles down for you and your family woahthere.

We have a very clear idea what's causing my daughter's SH. She has been suffering from anxiety for some time now and has been going through the system of GP, pediatrics to determine a physical cause of the chest pains, pediatric psychologist who made big promises to protect my daughter form the cause of her anxiety - her father - and subsequently did nothing. Social services said get a referral to camhs which is in the pipeline. Her comment having discovered her cut arm was 'well nobody can help me' is still ringing in my ears.

To end on a slightly positive note though, there was lots of advice from unquietmind july 23rd. I looked up national self harm network and there is lots of useful info there, particularly regarding do's and dont's. My concern is not to add to her anxiety whilst not tiptoeing around her too.

I'm still scared to death of what the future holds, but right now I don't feel quite so alone.

Thanks everyone for sharing xx

HoopHopes Sun 28-Jul-13 12:42:39

Hi hope you can go on holiday. You may struggle to get health insurance for your son and although you can use an European health card it only gives you what is free for locals in the country that you visit. So if they pay so do you.

woahthere Sun 28-Jul-13 10:34:18

I asked him last night how he was feeling and he said fine, he doesn't do anything all day though. I asked if he'd wanted to do it again and he smirked and said 'well yeah, of course' which made me feel a bit cross although i dint show it.

We made him come to the garden centre as we don't want him alone and he had to push a trolley. He looked like it was the most trying thing he'd ever done. I think he is actually depressed as well as he has no get up and go at all, no desire to do anything, and anxious about the smallest of things.
I just can't believe how quickly he has become like this. I'm so angry with his Dad because the first cutting incident happened after he'd been seeing his Dad a lot more. They 'chat' about things far more deeply than I think they should.
After this his Dad told him about his Dad who had committed suicide years ago...we didn't tell him at the time as thought it would be too upsetting. I cant fathom why his Dad thought it would be a good time to tell him this, he obviously had his reasons but I think it made it worse. Yesterday my daughter told me that her Dad had told them both they probably would get depression because it runs in the family. my opinion is that maybe it does but there are other factors involved too. This quick progression in anxiety, depression, self harm I think has been triggered by all of these 'deep chats' with his Dad. My son now is being what he was told he will be. I am simplifying, and I know its not all his Dads fault, but I sure as hell think he has made it a thousand times worse. It's like his Dad wants to upset him so that then they can have a deep chat and he can be the understanding father who makes it all better...its sick. But then when things are serious and he actually does need help, he abandons him and leaves us to pick up the pieces.

Another thing is that I am worried about my partner, I think he may be traumatised by what has happened. Every time our son goes to the bathroom we are scared. my partner is now saying we can't go abroad on holiday in case our son does it again, which I'm really upset about as we work so hard all year and it is a much needed holiday. I think he is wrong but can see why he feels this way. What help can I get for him?
My heart has not stopped pounding so hard since this started, I keep getting really bad palpitations and an over awareness of my heartbeat which keeps skipping and then adding a beat, which Im sure is stress. Good for weight loss though! Every cloud eh...

Anyway, Im rambling to strangers, best get up and make something of this day. Appointment with therapist tomorrow.

tabbycat15 Fri 26-Jul-13 02:38:35

Thanks for updating. I hope all goes well with the therapist. When DS went the first appt we went in together. After that he went weekly & every now & then we went to an appt with him.

It's fantastic that he is able to talk to you about it and that he is starting to recognise signs and is able to resist. The two of you are both really strong from your last update, you will probably have a few set backs but sounds like you are making progress already. You should be proud of you both and your relationship x

woahthere Thu 25-Jul-13 22:36:33

all of this is so helpful. i actually feel a lot more calm and informed. i feel like i kind of know why its happening now, i know what i need to ask on Monday of the therapist and I ve accepted its probably going to be a long road....and will probably happen again (which is why I burst into tears this morning....think it all hit me really hard). I actually slept last night though, so thats good, and today he went out with friends and it felt more normal. he also confided that yesterday he realy felt like doing it because of his Dad, but he managed not to. Im happy that he told me that.

painforlife Thu 25-Jul-13 13:33:23

a trick that may work but it isn't a guarantee us to give him an elastic band. tell him to put it on his wrist & everytime he feels like self-harming to pull the band. this action has been known to break the cycle of thought & helps relieve the pressure in your head. I must admit it did not work for me but other MH sufferers swear by it.

writing out his thoughts privately in a daily diary may also help as he can get out all his thoughts & not have em just in his head.

look up mindfullness on YouTube (there are some guided exercises). its basically another way to divert his mind. I find this the most usefull as I pretend I'm on a beach somewhere whilst concentrating on just my breathing. mindfullness exercises can be done for just 5 mins at a time but that 5 mins can make the diff between someone self harming or not.

his relationship with his father will definitely not be helping so please consider what other have said and keep him away until you have seemed professional help from him time until the time he has seen a consultant and been put on medication.

whatever horrible things he may be saying right now he doesn't mean at all so please don't take it to heart. he is probably just feeling numb physically/mentally.

I stopped eating for 6 weeks also so please keep an eye on his food intake. but also keep in mind if he has lost his appetite he won't likely eat anything until he is started on medication as that is what happened with me.

whatever is going on in his head will eventually be resolved by the professionals but it will take time so bare that In mind. u will have to be very patient with him

I'm sorry u are going thought this & hope ur son gets the help before it gets more worse. I hope the above helps u in some way. its just things from my experience & my opinion. just deal with each day as it happens & keep ur courage up. sending u best wishes n hugs smile

Sorry, phone froze n posted half way through. He isn't doing it to hurt you, n he would probably feel guilty if you thought that which might set the cycle going again. The nhs waiting lists are terrible for anything other than suicide attempts. He may need another outlet for his feelings (anger, hurt etc) if his dad is a trigger he is struggling to cope with then writing or drawing about him then getting angry at the paper might be a partial release.
Good luck and keep persevering to get meds n therapy x

I used to self harm to, as a way to let pain out when I felt like I couldn't handle what was going in my head. Being practical and letting him know you are not judging him might

SofiaAmes Thu 25-Jul-13 01:13:12

If you have the funds, it may be worth making an appointment to see someone privately while you are waiting for the nhs to get its act together.

Also, I don't know what it's like in the UK, but a friend here said that the biggest mistake she made for her dd who was self harming was to check her into a residential treatment place instead of trying to get less dramatic help and anti-depressants. She said that her dd who was had just started self harming and was mostly just experimenting, learned from the other patients what websites to go on, how to be more secretive and all sorts of other harmful behavior (anorexia). She also blames the environment at the wealthy private school that her dd attended, but she only realized that it had been a problem as she was graduating. By the way, her dd is much better now and going off to university.

I wish you lots of luck and good thoughts.

Secretswitch Wed 24-Jul-13 20:30:38

Sirboob, excellent post!

SirBoobAlot Wed 24-Jul-13 20:25:48

I know your question to was another poster, but I'm a (mainly recovered) self harmer too.

To be honest, I was so desperate to feel something other than the black numbness, I never considered how it might affect other people. When you're depressed, you're selfish, though not on a conscious way. You just don't think about other people, because you cannot see out of the black hole you have fallen into. Whenever I did think about how it was affecting people, it tended to be after an argument, never relating to the self harm but to do with other things. I must also add that there are other issues within my family dynamic anyway, but they handled it badly, and I felt that all my thoughts of them being better off without me / hating me / not understanding me became more justified after these.

The best thing to do, in my experience, is to be matter of fact about things; if you know he has cut, make sure they are clean. If he needs medical attention, seek it. Give him the opportunity to talk, but don't say things along the lines of "But you don't need to do this / you seem so happy" etc, even if you are thinking them, and they are hard to bite back.

Also, I would distance yourself and your son from his 'father', because his attitude will only make things worse.

Secretswitch Wed 24-Jul-13 20:20:22

Whoahthere..what an ordeal! I cannot believe he was sent home! Jesus wept..I hope you realise what an amazing strong mum you are. It sounds like nothing can be expected from his father in terms of support. My ex was not that bad, but clearly is of the " pull yourself up by the boot straps" school of ignorance.
I am sending lots of virtual support to you. I know Monday seems so far away. Please do not hesitate to take him back to A&E if things become grim again..xx

woahthere Wed 24-Jul-13 20:12:38

Secretswitch, my heart aches for you too. It is just so horrible, I feel like my whole family need help not just him. It is encouraging that he has only done it once though xxx

woahthere Wed 24-Jul-13 20:04:57

well, my son and partner arrived home shortly after I posted last night. He saw an out of hours doctor who deemed he wasn't a threat to himself!!!!
He said he couldnt do anything because he wasnt showing signs of being scizophrenic, bipolar or suicidal. If you could see the state of him you would not believe it. We have been to see gp again today who was fucking crap and so wet about it, but on the upside we have a sooner appointment to see therapist than before but still have to wait until Monday. His Dad came as he was dropping daughter off. We explained everything, have tried to explain about self harm, but he still wont have my son as he thinks it is bad behaviour and there should be a consequence. I am just incredulous. His Dad is a big fat asshole and I wish he would drop off the face of the planet. He is actually punishing him for self harm...can anybody tell me what good this will do!!!!
My son has said he does it because he hates himself, he hates everything he does and thinks he fucks everything up all the time. My son is a drop dead gorgeous handsome boy, top student (literally top in the grammar school he got into), he is sporty, he has good mates and when all of this wasnt going on is a good and decent lad. Im so confused because if he thinks he is bad when all he has ever been is praised and encouraged, then I dont know how to stop him.

Im so angry he wont be seen sooner. He has harmed 3 days in a row, each time worse than the next. He seems fine now, but I dread the night ahead. Ive slept only 8 hours in the past 3 nights and am exhausted. Still working and having to put on a happy face.

Really annoyingly the mental health unit said that if we had taken him to a and e last night rather than having to call an ambulance and then go into hospital, then he would have been kept in overnight and assessed and referred immediately. I just can't believe that protocol determines the help you get when the departments are 50 metres away from each other. Im furious. thanks for the support everybody.

This might sound horrid englishteacher, but did the fact that you were hurting your family so much not put you off self harming at all? I know that question is going to make me sound horribly ignorant as you couldnt help it...but did it halt you at all ever? or did it make it worse? I dont know if I should hide my feelings and be calm, or show my feelings...ah, i dont know anything anymore. I thought I was a good mum, it turns out im fucking shit and failed my son.

Secretswitch Wed 24-Jul-13 13:38:24

Hi Woahthere, am hoping you and your son are doing alright today. I am thinking of you both..xx

englishteacher78 Wed 24-Jul-13 06:53:40

Former self-harmer here.
Firstly, he doesn't hate you (even if he says it).
Secondly, it is indeed an addiction, it's a compulsive behaviour and a way of making yourself feel better (sounds weird to people who haven't done it - but it certainly does). It helps when things get overwhelming. And from what you've said it seems that he probably overwhelmed.
Finally, contrary to what a lot of people think, it's not necessarily a suicidal thing self-harm can make you feel really alive and remind you that you're real. It's not a fashion thing (the Daily Mail tried that explanation - anger!). It's not an emo thing. It's something people do. I had a friend who self-harmed by punching walls. It's a larger issue than most people think.
And yes, mental health care is rubbish. I first saw someone about self-harming when I was in Year 12, got put on anti-depressants in the third year at Uni (with no follow up or counselling), eventually saw a counsellor at the age of 29! She was rubbish.
I stopped when I was ready to stop like any addict.

Secretswitch Wed 24-Jul-13 02:57:26

My son's therapist told us that cutting releases endorphins. Many people find self harm gives them a feeling very similar to the high you get from opiates. In our case, my poor son was hurting himself to relieve the emotional pain he had bottled inside.

Secretswitch Wed 24-Jul-13 02:54:05

Oh Op...I just read your update! My heart goes to you and ds. If it is ok with you I shall pray for you both.

SofiaAmes Wed 24-Jul-13 02:52:46

My understanding is that self harming needs to be treated more like a drug addiction than an attempt at suicide. Kids get addicted to the "high" from harming. It's really a pity that there is such a stigma about depression and therapy in the uk, because it sounds like your ds needs some antidepressants to help him through teenage-hood. It's hard enough without a dad who is blaming his problems with his wife on you. (your poor ds!) Here is a link to an article that's mostly about girls, but talks about how the boys get sucked in.

Secretswitch Wed 24-Jul-13 02:51:13

Woahthere, I am so sorry this is happening. My 16 yr old son also self harms. He was hospitalised in April for suicidal ideation, and that is where we found out that he was cutting his legs. He has developemental delays and Asperger's. The pyschiatrist diagnosed him with depression and placed him on an antidepressant. It has taken a few months to fine tune the dosage. He sees a therapist weekly. He says he feels better.
He told his therapist he cuts because the pain gives him release. He had one more cutting incident this year. He cut his arm very badly in school. It seems he was very upset over a breakup with a girlfriend. (one we knew nothing about!). I check in with him constantly. I ask him to tell me how he is feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. We have contracted with him for safety.
My heart hurts everyday. I just want my son to feel good about himself and his life. I am terrified of losing him.
I found that I must be his advocate. I had to push and plead for a therapist (even when he had just been released from hospital) His school wanted to suspend him for the cutting incident. I had to fight for him like a wolverine. I will be thinking about you and your ds..many hugs...

SirBoobAlot Wed 24-Jul-13 02:42:36

Well if that is the attitude he is getting from his father and step mother, then I think you have found at least part of the reason for doing it.

Try to understand that self harm is an addiction; you use it to fix something, and it becomes a coping mechanism, that you then don't know how not to use.

If he's been in A&E, then push for a duty psych assessment, and for CAMHS involvement quicker than the weeks of waiting you normally have. He needs to see someone before that, and so do you, by the sounds of things.

tabbycat15 Wed 24-Jul-13 02:29:44

I'm so sorry you & ds are going through this. I hope you are getting the right help now in hospital. Mental health services are appalling in the UK. It seems you have to go to a & e to get help.
My son self harmed. He had major spinal surgery & chest surgery. There is history in our family of depression. He was suffering from anxiety & low mood.

I am in Australia & our health care is so good. He saw a psychiatrist & also so someone from Cahms weekly on his own. He takes 1/2 a tablet of an anti d & is a different person.

He is at Uni & had a part time job. He is doing really well now.

I think with boys they clam up & won't tell you what's wrong. Girls will cry & open up more.

I really hope you are getting the right help now.

woahthere Wed 24-Jul-13 00:55:38

it got worse tonight. His Dad who was suposed to be having him stay for the next 5 days told him that he(son) needed to tell him what to do...choose between him or his wife...as his wife wouldnt have him stay in the house. My son was heartbroken I could tell he was so sad and was crying a lot. He went to the bathroom and I went up after a minute worried. He cut his wrists and lots of cuts up his arms. He is now in hospital getting checked.

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