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My son showed me his self harm and my reaction is not normal.

(12 Posts)
Eulalia2 Wed 22-Feb-17 21:35:19

Eldest son has mild autism but has had additional mental health problems for over a year now. His Dad (my husband) died nearly 15 months ago. I am struggling with being on my own with him, age 17, daughter 14 and youngest son 11. This year my mother was also very ill and I had a lot of stress at work. Just had nearly 4 weeks off work with stress/depression and am now taking anti depressants. I managed to summon up a bit of effort to talk to my son at the weekend (been ignoring each other mostly). He revealed he had been cutting himself. He showed me his scars on his arm. They were more like deep scratches. I didnt really look at them properly. For some stupid reason when I saw them I thought "is that it?' Like thinking they weren't that bad. I felt no other emotion, shock, sympathy or anything. We talked about emotions and he seems to be feeling the same. I didnt reveal my thoughts and didnt really register it until later. I realised that my reaction was not right for a mother. I know I am depressed but really is this the sort of thing people do? I just don't seem to care about anything any more and even worse I don't seem to care that I don't care. It's taken me a lot of effort to even type this.

Chickoletta Wed 22-Feb-17 21:38:57

I think that's a very normal response, particularly if you'd mentally prepared yourself for worse. Superficial arm cutting like this can often be a cry for help or attention.
I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. The fact that your son is talking to you is definitely a good thing. All the best.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Wed 22-Feb-17 21:59:30

Firstly who knows how they would react to this till it happens, the lack of emotion could be shock in itself. Also when we are depressed we can just feel so numb, that we can't feel anything.

For me self harm is a coping mechanism to release the pressure that builds up inside when stress gets too much. Sometimes it can be a way of feeling something when you are feeling too numb inside. The severity of the injury does not necessarily reflect the severity of the emotional turmoil. I rarely break the skin, but the intensity of the urges and the internal anguish is completely unbearable to get me to that point in the first place. Also generally over time you need to cut deeper to get the same relief and it can be addictive.

You need to get proffesional help for both of you ASAP. Get youself and your son to the GP and get some help.

OhTheRoses Wed 22-Feb-17 22:05:50

Sounds like you have all been through a very difficult time. I hope you get the help you need. When a child self harms one has to learn what the,reaction needs to be because it isn't an every day experience and is very very complex.

Eulalia2 Thu 23-Feb-17 07:30:31

Thanks for the responses. Kind of contradicted myself as obviously I do care on one level otherwise I'd not have posted. My son is getting professional help but he's not yet told them about the cuts. I am getting support at work but nothing professional as such, am on a waiting list for counselling was referred nearly 4 weeks ago, as such nothing in the pipeline. I went back to work yesterday after several weeks off and son has just given up college. I didnt see him at all yesterday as he was in bed all day and got up just after I went to bed! He is still up but I won't have time to talk to him as I have to get my other 2 kids organised and to work. I had a terrible nights sleep. My boss said I should look after myself first but how I can do that with 3 children? Thanks for listening.

Eulalia2 Thu 23-Feb-17 07:32:51

Oh and thanks anxious carer about the perspective about cutting.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Thu 23-Feb-17 16:26:57

Glad to hear that your work is supportive and that you have been refered to for councelling. Your boss is right saying you need to look after yourself first. If you go under you wont be able to look after anyone else. Its like on a plane they tell you to put your own oxygen on first before your kids. And when Mum is happy and relaxed it transmits to the kids too.

Theres a useful board regarding self harm on which both you and your son might find helpful. There is always a lot of support from others who have experience of self harm, and the moderators have a safety team who keep a close eye to makesure content stays safe and aporopriate. Contrary to what people often think about self harm being attention seeking, most people who self harm keep it very private. It takes a great deal of trust to talk to someone about it. The only people in rl I've talked to about it are DH, CPN and psychologist. The first person I told was my CPN and that took 3 attempts, its a very difficult thing to discuss. It shows what a good relationship you have with your son that he can talk to you honestly about it. I would encourage him to discuss it with his MH team though. Something I find really helpful about DHs MH team is that I feel it takes the weight off me. When he's poorly I can hand some ofvthe responsibility to his CPN which really helps me cope.

Eulalia2 Thu 23-Feb-17 18:27:53

Thanks again will have a look at that link, am far too tired just now, was home late as had training after work and trying not to go to bed too early. I think part of the problem is that I have totally lost perspective, I feel that I don't have any real problems, that I am 'making' myself depressed, I feel guilty and that I don't deserve any attention but at the same time am seeking it... its very childlike. I found myself making attachments to people at work today, the ones that were sympathetic, wanting to be with them. I've never actually told one single professional the whole story of the difficulties of the last 2 years, my dad being ill and dying, then my husband, my son being ill, then my mother, stress at work and trying to run a household single handed (with poor living conditions thrown in - Long story). I just wish I could cry, I've not been able to do that for weeks now.

picklemepopcorn Thu 23-Feb-17 18:35:47

(((Eulalia*)))* we'll cry for you. You're burnt out.

Firstly, you reaction may have been very helpful for your son. A panicked 'OMG what have you done!' would not have helped, nor showing distress. You talked to him, talked about feelings, and didn't scare him with your intense emotions. That is great, so don't worry.

As for how you feel, you've been to hell and back and are still putting one foot in front of the other, so we'll. Done.

Don't feel bad about how you feel, about asking for help, about accepting empathy from people at work. You are running on empty, top up where you can.

Hang in there. It will get better. Please tell as many HCPs as you can access exactly how tough things are for you right now.

colouringinagain Thu 23-Feb-17 18:37:11

Eulalia you've definitely had and are having a really, really tough couple of years. That takes its toll and it sounds like you've got through it incredibly. You and your children deserve attention, support and care. I hope you can access some irl, but keep posting here too if it helps.

Be kind to yourself and sending (((hugs)))


Jayfee Thu 23-Feb-17 18:56:08

you poor thing. i had a terrible experience a few years ago and remember thinking if one more bad thing happened i would shatter. i think your numbness is understandable. things well get better. try to be kind to yourself. keep telling your family you love them and know that they love you. good luck

FreakinScaryCaaw Sat 11-Mar-17 09:29:48

Hi how are you and your son OP?

I just saw evidence of self harm on ds2's arm last night and I freaked out at first.

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