Think dd is self-harming

(30 Posts)
dontagreewithit Tue 13-Nov-12 23:09:46

Dd2 (13) has been very 'teenagery' for a while now. She goes through phases of being really moody, uncommunicative, can't bear to spend any time with me, dh, dd1 or any family member because we are "too annoying" & so on.

She is not particularly doing well in school, just coasting & getting into low level trouble for not bringing in the right books, being silly in lessons etc.

Outside school she has a very active life - in a choir & singing group as well as a pantomime company, so most of her spare time is filled up with these things.

She has used my phone to go on Facebook & left herself logged in. Rightly or wrongly I read messages between her & a friend & they seem to be discussing how they have self-harmed. Talking about covering up their arms, making excuses about her friend's dog having scratched them, things like that. There is nothing in the conversation about why they may have done it.

I have no idea what to do with this information. How do I broach the subject? Should I even broach it? She is so unwilling to spend any time with me or dh, and basically communicates in grunts. She will go through phases of being civil, but when she isn't, trying to talk to her is very difficult.

I feel really helpless & lost. What do I do?

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 14-Nov-12 08:04:05

Oh, I'm so sorry. I have no words of advice - my dd2 who is 14 does it too, and I am just living with it rather than doing anything to stop it. I have read that there's not much point trying to stop it - it's a form of release, and not getting that release plus the stress of trying not to do it might push them into more destructive behaviour.

I've just let my dd know that I know - earlier this year as the weather warmed up I asked her to be careful as I didn't want her younger brother and sister being upset by it. Last week she put on a pair of shorts at home, and there were obvious new-ish marks at the tips of her legs, so a couple of days later when we were having a chat I just said something like, didn't realise you were feeling so down again lately, saw you'd been cutting again, are you ok?

She just cries in response, I never actually get much out of her, but you know, we have a cuddle and she knows I'm here for her.

Jeez, re-reading this I sound pretty useless. If anyone has any better ways of dealing with it I'd love to hear them too! I do think it's perhaps something they wouldn't be doing if they didn't know that other people did it, iykwim?

It is really upsetting, I'm not really as blase as I might sound, and I totally sympathise. I didn't ask my dd if she was doing it - didn't think there was any reason to make her want to lie to me - but was just matter of fact, asked her what she was using and said to make sure she kept everything clean. She was rather taken aback, but it has meant that at least cutting isn't something we have confrontations over.

Have a hug x

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 14-Nov-12 08:05:41

TOPS of her legs ffs.

NoScarfOnMyHead Wed 14-Nov-12 08:12:21

From someone who's friends used to constantly do it at school at this age, I would say dont worry too much, just let her know you're there and that you know how shitty this age can be. My friends used to cut themselves for attention and I remember a big trend going round which saw self harm/being "depressed" and smoking weed as rebellion, a normal thing at school. This was all less than a decade ago but seems like things haven't changed. If dd starts losing weight, being secretive about possessions and looking ill, that's more reason to worry, in my view, self harming for her is prob a combination of a fad her friends do and not coping brilliantly with growing up. Hope it gets better for you both

FellatioNelson Wed 14-Nov-12 08:23:49

What kind of music and clothes is she into? Unfortunately there was a massive surge in teenagers self harming that started about 10 years ago through 'Emo' music. Some of their idols who wrote songs had genuine depression/emotional pain and would self harm or even commit suicide (think Richie from the Manics) and a movement started whereby teenagers were self harming en masse, sort of in solidarity. It was 'cool' to be wracked with angst and pain.

Of course there are some teenagers who self harm privately as a way to deal with genuine stress, but I also think that for many there is an element of experimentation and fashion. I suspect if she is discussing it with a friend and they are both doing it then she needs a gentle chat to make sure everything is ok, but but she is probably not in any real genuine distress. It needs to stop though - either way.

Obviously only you know your daughter so only you can hazard a guess as to which category she falls into, and whether you think she is at real risk of MH issues. But don't jump to any conclusions about her state of mind just yet. I'll bet you there are thousands of girls who dabbled in this as a phase in their teenaged years, because it was 'the thing to do' and they are probably largely normal, well-balanced, happy young women now.

FellatioNelson Wed 14-Nov-12 08:24:13

Ha! Crossed posts No

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 14-Nov-12 08:48:29

"It needs to stop though - either way."

So, any suggestions about how to make it stop? Or do you think telling them that it's just a fashion statement - and so passe! After all, Richey Manic disappeared before they were born! - will be enough?

FellatioNelson Wed 14-Nov-12 08:49:58

Well I can't answer that because I don't know the OP's daughter. That would have to be her call.

FellatioNelson Wed 14-Nov-12 08:50:51

Oh sorry Atia, just realised you were the other lady having the same problem! didn't mean to sound snippy.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 14-Nov-12 08:59:18

I'm no lady wink

As I said, I don't think it's the worst thing they can be doing, but I do think just being dismissive of it is a bit pointless. And in fact stopping it - or attempting to, as I don't see there's any way to be sure of stopping it - might lead to worse problems.

dontagreewithit Wed 14-Nov-12 09:48:34

Thanks for your responses. I feel a little reassured that it may not be as drastic as I feared. She isn't "emo" as far as I can tell - and generally when with her friends she seems to be happy, chatty and full of life, it's just with her family she is moody and uncommunicative.

I'm not sure how to broach this with dd. Firstly I have discovered this by "underhand" means, so shouldn't even know about it, and secondly dd really is not communicative with me or dh at all at the moment. She is really resistant to any attempt at communication, either walking away, grunting or getting angry. I do spend time with her taking her to and from choir activities, so may be able to talk to her when we do that, however, she does tend to plug herself into her earphones as soon as she gets in the car which precludes much communication.

How do I bring it up?

dontagreewithit Wed 14-Nov-12 12:41:48

Bump - anyone any ideas?

dontagreewithit Wed 14-Nov-12 17:14:10

Another bump for the late afternoon crowd...

ohthedandy Wed 14-Nov-12 21:18:54

I found the young minds organisation helpful when dd was self harming last year (she still is occasionally). They did tell me it is a coping strategy and they stopped me getting in a panic about it and sent me some leaflets which I gave to dd. I think it helped her to know I was trying to do something about it, even though she didn't want to go to the gp or anything herself.

They might have suggestions as to how to broach the subject with your dd.

ohthedandy Wed 14-Nov-12 21:21:14

Sorry, it might have helped if I'd put some contact details for them! www.youngminds.org.uk

The parents' helpline is 0808 802 5544

dontagreewithit Wed 14-Nov-12 21:22:25

Thanks, will have a look at them.

I just can't bear the idea she is so distressed & can't tell us.

NotMostPeople Wed 14-Nov-12 21:23:54

Is she in year 9? Dd1 covered self harming recently at school in pshe and within a couple of days there were rumours flying around about who was self harming. One of dd's friends admitted she did, but even dd said it was clearly for attention and not genuine. Could it be the topic of the moment?

CuriosityCola Wed 14-Nov-12 21:31:22

You could contact her school and ask if it is something they are discussing in lessons at the moment. The tutor/ school nurse might already be aware something is wrong.

Whatever you do, do not admit you read her messages. Is there a possibility that she is just acting out of solidarity for her friend? Or maybe talking about, but not doing it? There are many things I discussed with my friends when I was younger, but wasn't really doing.

stephrick Wed 14-Nov-12 21:36:33

My DD did the same when she was 16, I made her know that I knew it wasn't dog scratches , she used the same excuse, I told her that if she needed to talk i was there. It did pass and she no longer does it, but she has scars on her legs and arms. i put it down to stress, she took on more than she could chew with exams. However she did see her GP during this time. Please remember self harm is not a prelude to sucide, this is a distress signal, you have to talk about it.

minsat Wed 14-Nov-12 21:38:55

I'm a school nurse in a private girls school and unfortunately come across this all too often. Some girls try it once or twice out of curiosity and decide it's not for them. others do it to join in with friends or to get peer attention. However, for most it is a coping strategy for emotions / feelings that are too difficult for them to do anything else with (usually just normal teenage emotions). Although, it must be devastating for a parent to see their child harming themselves - it's important not to panic. It is useful though for the child to see a counsellor (lots of places which you can self refer to in London) or via GP. They can be taught other coping mechanisms / strategies which are actually good life skills. hope this helps.

stephrick Wed 14-Nov-12 21:42:51

I agree Minsat, do not panic a gentle talk, but they must be aware that you know about it.

dontagreewithit Wed 14-Nov-12 21:53:55

Ok so I need to try and engineer a way to "find out" about this so that she doesn't know I have read her messages.

Will ponder on this and also on whether I should talk to the mum of her friend. I do know her fairly well, but don't see or talk to her v often...

She is in yr 9, don't know whether they've been talking about this in PSHE.

As I say, she's extremely resistant to communication, and gets annoyed & clams up if I ask too many questions.

summer111 Thu 15-Nov-12 19:48:35

I'm somewhat dismayed by the responses you have had from other posters. In response to them, I would say that deliberate self harm is not something you can ignore nor is it typical teenage behaviour. Neither is cutting yourself and covering it up attention seeking behaviour. If it was attention seeking, then your dd would not be hiding it from you.

I am not wanting to heighten your concerns but your dd's lack of engagement with the family and school may be indicators of her being unhappy and possibly depressed which might warrant some professional help via your GP.

I would suggest that as a way to broach this with her, you could write her a note letting her know that you have noticed how she has been isolating herself from the family and that you guess she might be unhappy. Make sure you word it so that she understands you are not cross with her and that she is not in trouble but that you love her and are worried about her. Then suggest she writes a response back to you. This may be an easier way for her to communicate her feelings than in person.

Sometimes children/adolescents who have emotional difficulties gravitate towards each other for support. Unfortunately, they are not best placed to provide the emotional support which is needed.

I hope this helps.

Jenny70 Fri 16-Nov-12 18:31:57

I agree it needs to be brought up with her... you can't STOP her, but you can be there for her, when she is ready. Maybe get booklets, as others suggested, to leave with her to look at.

I think to bring it up, "I need to chat with you, before she puts the headphones on in the car. Say you are worried about her, say you are worried about her coping with things by hurting herself. Take it from her as to how to go from there.

dontagreewithit Sat 17-Nov-12 23:29:34

Just a quick update. Haven't broached the subject yet, she seems happier at the moment & I guess I'm loathe to break the mood as she has been fairly happy & chatty (by her standards).

Am going to make sure I m alert for any chance that comes up to discuss the subject, whether that be just as a general subject or more directly related to her. Am also going to keep an eye on her moods.

whatthebloodyhelldoidonow Thu 22-Nov-12 23:19:34

I dont mean to hijack this thread but I am sat here reeling from a phonecall I had from my 14yo (yr 9) DDs school earlier today telling me they suspect she is cutting herself.

I feel devastated tbh. They think there are 4 or 5 other girls in the same year with similar marks on their arms. They are not sure if its self harm for release or some sick craze.

DD started new school Sept and weekly boards (full boarded at her old school). Its been a shit term for her really. 2 biggish shit incidents that did cause alot of distress but I have had a general feeling of all not being well despite her "jolly" demeaner inbetween the 2 incidents. I was back in last week chatting to staff about a gut feeling of mine something was not quite right - had no idea it was something as awful as this though.

Its just awful for a mum to see their child hurting themselves like this isnt it?

I dont even know where or how to start talking to her this weekend. Her younger sibling is home from (different) school this weekend too so privacy is going to be limited. DH is away on deployment for another 2 months. He went before the start of term. I have no one here to take sibling out for an hour or 2 either.

Any suggestions welcome and I really hope dontagreewithit does not mind me on this thread. I am so sorry to anyone finding themselves in this situation. I hope you manage to make a breakthrough in communication with your DD soon dontagreewithit.

dontagreewithit Thu 22-Nov-12 23:26:30

Hi whatthebloody, sorry you have had this horrid news. I have no great insight or help to give, I have still not talked to dd about this, mainly because I don't know where to start & when I do talk to her it's such a relief if she isn't just growling at me, I don't want to jeopardise the fragile "ceasefire".

I do have a a feeling that it is something that a few of her friends are doing & there is no obvious "bad thing" going on in dd's life that I can see that would trigger something like this, so I guess I am hoping it is a phase more than anything, but I am aware that I could be deluded...

whatthebloodyhelldoidonow Fri 23-Nov-12 00:17:53

I am sat here hoping for the best - the best being its a craze and she is doing it because her friends are because I dont want her to be in such an emotional mess that she is doing it for emotional release. sad

So I have finally caved in and cried. School want me to speak to her this weekend. Have been reading up and although I know I have to approach it gently I am bloody terrified I will screw up.

I thought I had a good relationship with my DD. I feel I have failed her and it hurts like hell.

I know exactly what you mean dontagree - with just being glad for communication.

Luckily our relationship is fairly jovial generally (but obviously not as close as I thought). DD called home tonight, she seemed OK and I was just glad to speak to her about normal stuff and her day that I didnt approach it really - not that I would over the phone.

Bloody hell by the time we get home tomorrow night I will be bloody knackered anyway - let alone the fact I dont think I will sleep tonight. I just dont know where I am going to find the inner strength to deal with this - its been a long, emotional and exhausting bloody term since September for us and this is the bloody icing on the cake.

I know its not about me but I am ashamed to say I am feeling all kind of things tonight gutted, angry, dissapointed, anxious and so worried for my lovely DD and a bloody failiure as a parent. I am allowing myself tonight to cry and try and get these feelings out of my system so I can face upto trying to gently discussing this in a non judgmental gentle non accusationary way over the weekend - the whole while keeping a happy facade on my face for the younger sibling.

Have just sent DH an email telling him. Its shit I know but I cant wait to tell him about this till he gets home late January. Poor bloke can do nothing but I had to get him on board with this. I dont know when he will pick the email up or when he will be able to get intouch either so am on my own with this. Fell way out of my depth.

RoobyMyrtle Fri 23-Nov-12 11:31:28

Hijack alert: I found out recently that my dd1 has been self-harming too and spending hour upon hour most nights (for several months) talking about suicide with an older friend. It's devastating and terrifying. I can't really get to the bottom of why she has been doing this as she doesn't feel able to really talk about it (but I have given her contact details for a counsellor and our gp's and one at school who will talk confidentially if she wants it). She says now we know she feels much better and doesn't need any help but we'll see what happens...

I feel like the worst parent on the planet as I had no idea this was going on. Looking back I can see the clues were all there but I totally underestimated how she was feeling. I've since (with her permission) looked through all of her facebook & mobile messages and can see that she has been feeling lonely, unloved and mis-understood for a quite a while sad

I feel so guilty. Because I'm not very well (long-term) and so am tired all the time, and dh is a workaholic who is glued to his PC or mobile literally every second of the day, I think we let her and her sister drift away.

I've now made changes that will hopefully help: When they get home from school we have a round table cuppa and chat. Mobiles are switched off as soon as everyone gets in and Facebook is blocked from 5.30 onwards. We have reintroduced some family mealtimes (they have a lot of after school activities and dh gets home late so it's not often possible) and family games & outings. I've also encouraged her to see more of her friends outside school and to get back into creative activities she'd dropped in favour of Facebook. She also deleted all the "mean girls" from her FB.

I'm sorry that other people are going through this too and I totally get what you mean about feeling ashamed about your own feelings. One of my first reactions after I'd absorbed the body blow what "oh FFS - what now? Your sister's just been given the all clear from her medical problems and I don't even get a week off before I have to gear up for another fight!" blush I've got over myself now...

whatthebloodyhelldoidonow Sat 24-Nov-12 05:59:51

I am sorry you are going through the same/similar too RoobyMyrtle. Its truely gutting. I too find myself askin lots of questions of my parenting and wondering what I can change to help my DD.

I have had 2 hours sleep tonight after very little the previous night too.

I now know she has admitted at school that she did cut herself. She told school she does not know why. No one at school can believe it of her because she is normally so happy and bubbly apparently.

I have her home now where she is staying until I get to the reasons behind this.

Just wish I could sleep so I have a clear head with the strength and patience to have a good proper talk. Think I may set her younger sister up with some fairy cakes to decorate and ice whilst I find somewhere private to have a good chat with DD1. Literally have no one or nowhere to offload DD2 for an afternoon at the moment so going to have to manage somehow.

Every time I think of my beautiful DD hacking herself away with a razor blade I feel sick to the stomach and I have to fight the tears. I cannot believe things have got this shit for her before I realised. sad

Wish me luck.

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