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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, 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.

mrsdinklage Tue 23-Jul-13 00:16:04

woah - I don't know if I can help, but when my dd did this our gp referred her very quickly - this worked. My heart goes out to you, and I hope an MH professional can give you more constructive help. It did take time. Good luck flowers

mrsdinklage Tue 23-Jul-13 00:19:22

Just to add I am off to bed in soon, but I will pop back tomorrow to check you are OK

unquietmind Tue 23-Jul-13 00:41:51

He may have something that he feels unable to share with you at present. I am sorry, this must be a really difficult time for you; hopefully you ccan get support in other areas than the ones you have tried already. My first thought is what is your thoughts on risk of further injury and risk of danger to himself

Ideas to think about

A&E. You May think it sounds drastic but if he is cutting in multiple areas and in hidden places including near thighs and groin there is a worry he may have an accident or not care for his wound or other types of self harm may be occuring. The A&E in your local area should have access and liaison teams to support young people and adults through distress, do risk assessments and they can refer to services for longer term support

Camhs duty. Depending on your local services the child and adolescent mental health services should have aduty worker you can contact at least in working hours and get an urgent assessment. This number should be on the internet

Request another gp and ask for anurgent referral to camhs. Badgerthe pastoral mgr at school for support or ask your school nurse/health visitor/any professional who could just help you kickstart things off

Google national self harm network. Loads of tips on alternative strategies to self harm for the young person as well as advice for parents how best to support their child and manage risk. It can be really hard for parents and carers when a child self harms and can be hard to seehow est to communicate orsupport as we worry and our responses to stress kick in.

Safety plans. Once you have shared the alternative strategies you can discuss being safe such as expected times home when out for example. so you can reduce your worry a little. you may want to remove/make safe potential self harm implements. Be honest wwith your son and use the national self harm network parent guidance to open up non blaming conversations about your concerns and his use of self harm for whatever his need is. You could make it clear that you respect he may find it difficult to share but how you are worried he is distressed/not coping/etc and how you wantto help reduce the distress in a safe way (strategies, talking to someone)

Helplines. Have you or your son used them? They may get it all the time but that's why they are there. Samaritans do email as well and there are a number of helplines but these may depend on your local area so google. A list forhim to carry might help in the short term

Young minds - goodwwbsite on children's mental health.

It may take some time for him to trust and open up to a worker or someone but I guess its important to consider we don't know all our teens lives and events tmay look different to us. Its hard to say about those tv shows and their effects but either way he has began to self harm; and he may need help. If you feel the internet is an issue then look at parent controls also.its difficult for parents to manage but use the online advice and see if the strategies help. There may be a number of reasons as to why hedoes it and alternative safer solutions may help create the same physical response eg release but not cause lots of hurt.

Sorry its quick but hope it helps.


CamelBalls Tue 23-Jul-13 18:10:31

If he does it again I would be inclined to take him to a and e and get them to assess him there and then, sounds harsh but may help and get the ball rolling

Sending you both a big hug xx

woahthere Tue 23-Jul-13 18:22:08

thank you, bit tired, will post again later but just wanted to acknowledge thanks. He has been quiet today and I have been busy with work. I dont think he will do it for the moment, but have no doubt it will happen again and am very scared of the severity of the next time. i cant believe it takes so long to get to see anybody sad

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 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.

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.

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.

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...

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 02:54:05

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.

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.

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 13:38:24

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

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.

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

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

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 20:30:38

Sirboob, excellent post!

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.

Faerieinatoadstool Thu 25-Jul-13 12:55:48

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

Faerieinatoadstool Thu 25-Jul-13 13:04:49

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

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

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.

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