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Self Harming

(48 Posts)
Whichwaytogo Tue 18-Jun-13 09:21:52

This is my first post so apologies if I get this wrong. I am a father to a fantastic 15 year old daughter. Over the last year we have seen a dramatic change in her behaviour at school and discovered that she is cutting her arms, legs and tummy. The school referred her to the school counselor, she went saying 'I'm only here to tick the box' and would not go back. We then, based on a recommendation found a private councilor, again we had to push hard for her to go but would not engaged as she felt she was being 'Physc'd' out. We had a referral through school to camh and were seen very quickly, we had a hell of a job getting her to go along to the appointment. Whilst there she would not engage at all putting up an aggressive/ defensive stance. She said she would not go back to those devil people. We went a couple more times without her at camh's request and the sessions have stopped with an open door but they say that unless she is prepared to engage there is not much more they can do. My wife and I have spoken to her with mixed and inconsistent responses and levels of engagement. We have found diaries where she has written about suicide and how she is fat, useless etc, she is definitely not any of those. She says that its normal what she is doing and we should leave her alone. We believe from what we have read and understood from her that it appears to be a whole mix of triggers, low self esteem, school, bad friends, I could go on. Sunday night/ Monday morning are the worst leading up to school.

Just not sure where to go really, sitting by while she grows out of it doesn't seem the right thing to do.

ChubbyKitty Tue 18-Jun-13 09:51:32

I don't have any great advice but I can at least bump the thread for someone wiser than me to come along!

I do have first hand experience from the 'business end' so to speak, when I was 13-17 I did all of those things and I did get through it. Chances are your DD will get through it too. I feel ashamed for what my parents had to go through tbh, but I'm much happier and better now. I'm not really sure how best to word it, I'm not 100% sure how my parents handled it as it was such a hazy time. I would say that trying to talk to her but not pushing her, so for example if she seems reluctant to open up then steer the conversation away from it and just chat about other stuff, like tv shows she enjoys, topics that have no substance but they cheer everyone up iyswim?

I got sent to my school councillor, both of them. I understand how she feels not wanting to go to them. It might have changed now(this was 6 years ago) but it felt like I was just there to keep the schools paperwork tidy.

As for causes, does she ever mention the other kids at school? Just a few comments from them, however untrue they may be, can stick in the mind and be blown out of proportion. It took years to convince me I don't have a torpedo nose, and I got called it once.

In the meantime, brew

Whichwaytogo Tue 18-Jun-13 21:00:55

Thanks ChubbyKitty, There have been a couple of individuals that have had a negative impact as she has gone through school. We live in quite a small community so the children she went to lower school with followed her into middle then on to upper school. The school have been very supportive, we have recently set up individual lessons for the classes that cause her anxiety. It appears to not necessarily be the subject but the class itself. This has only just started so its too early to say if it has an impact.

dollydaydream27 Tue 18-Jun-13 21:17:56

Hi , just wondering if it might be possible to take her to your gp who may be able to advise on further treatment I.e if she may be depressed.
Also are there any issues that may need addressing at school such as bullying ?

mindfulmum Tue 18-Jun-13 22:05:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Whichwaytogo Wed 19-Jun-13 04:32:51

Hi dollydaydream27, we have tried taking her to the GP but will not go, we don't believe there is any particular issue re bullying more a generally complex mix revolving around self esteem.

Whichwaytogo Wed 19-Jun-13 04:42:21

Hi mindfulmum, a few weeks ago I did discuss with her, her request that we back off. It seemed wrong initially but thinking it through I felt it wouldn't be that much of a change as we weren't really communicating about it away. We discussed it with camh and they felt felt the sam. The difficulty was that she was not happy that we sought advice from camh. I'm not sure if its made a difference but its early days.

The plan from camh was that unless she engages they can't do anything, they said that they will probably get involved when things have escalated and they get a call from school, police or the hospital.

happycrimblechuckie Wed 19-Jun-13 06:10:18

My son, who is now 21 had /has issues with cutting himself. We tried all of those counselling avenues to be told by him that they have no idea what they are on about. I tend to agree with him when one told him to get a dog and go for a walk! Some of them are devil like, believe me. We stepped back a lot, told him we loved him more than anything, we are here for him and made sure he had access to us at all times. It is so hard to understand what their 'problem' is sometimes, I know. One thing I did was to give him a good strong elastic band for his wrist and also a book for him to write his stuff in and then to show me when he wanted to talk as opposed to actually 'talking' this was scary to read but helped him a lot, We ended up doing most of it on our own in the end, be patient with her and if she is going to cut herself nothing you can do will stop her just be there to help her. My son is a lot better at the moment and it looks like he may make it to university this year, Hurrah! But we will always be a pair of ears for him. I know it is really hard to sit back as parents we feel we need to make our children better if they feel ill, but, you can't in this case, she will come round but she may take time, let her do it in her own time. Just my experience, I have no medical training, so not sure if what we did is right or not, but it sort of worked for our best of luck my friend.

Bonsoir Wed 19-Jun-13 06:14:36

I agree with other posters that counselling is terribly hit and miss and that if you can engage with your DC yourself and be supportive, the long-term outlook will be better for all of you.

TheRealFellatio Wed 19-Jun-13 06:18:51

I'd be concerned about the sunday night/monday morning thing. Is she being bullied? Sometimes kids are very good at hiding the fact that their life at school or around certain peers is intolerable. They don't want to burden you with the fact that other people seem to hate them, or they just feel they won't be believed or that the problem will be made worse if they involve meddling but well-intentioned adults. Can you get a look at her phone/facebook to see if she is being continually hounded/insulted by anyone?

Is she a perfectionist and a high achiever at school? Is she more of an individual and quirky thinker, or does she want to run with the crowd? Does he have boyfriends yet?

Bonsoir Wed 19-Jun-13 06:21:39

A lot of people are ashamed if they are being bullied, or even just don't fit in and have friends in whatever peer group they find themselves in. Whereas it is really quite common not to find friends at school and that does not mean that there is anything wrong with the lonely person at all.

happycrimblechuckie Wed 19-Jun-13 06:26:34

thereal when a young person gets as far into a MH problem as this young lady is, it has gone far beyond a bullying problem I am afraid, they cannot even tell you themselves what it is most of the time, there is probably a really good circle of friends around her and she is probably doing OK at school but the Sunday/Monday thing is more about dealing with people on a day to day basis that any specific bullying IMO. She would probably prefer to just stay in her room all day every day but knows she has to go and speak to people all week and get on with things at school.

ChubbyKitty Wed 19-Jun-13 10:54:58

Happycrimblechuckie - I knew someone would come along and word it much better than I did! I'm the same age as your son, maybe me and him both serve a good example to reassure the OP that his DD will be okay?smile

Whichwaytogo Wed 19-Jun-13 21:12:43

Happycrimblechuckie, I think you have hit it on the head, as I said in an earlier post, its more about being around other young people. She has, until recently been top set English 2nd set Maths so had a good chance of some great grades. This I also think contributed, being seen as a geek. I posted on here as I was not certain that we were doing the right thing, but from what I have read, I know feel that we might be.

I guess we will continue on the current path and have to adapt as she or circumstances present. Thanks again for all the posts.

Turniptwirl Wed 19-Jun-13 22:44:17

I self harmed as a young adult (19 to mid 20s,) it was worst aged 19-22 until I got on anti depressants

I still don't know if my parents know, I've never spoken about it with them. They both knew something was up I'm sure but not what I was doing.

Self harm is a coping mechanism. If she's been doing it s while it may well be her only coping mechanism now. The best thing a counsellor could do is help her discover other coping strategies that work for her. This is imo far better than talking through what is causing each cut kind of thing.

As a teenager I was very articulate, in writing anyway, about my feelings. I still feel that self harm took that away from me and I still struggle to express my feelings or even define them to myself. Any professional asking me what's wrong isn't going to get much of an answer.

I think your dd does need help from a professional, whether through counselling, medication or both. But there's very little point unless she wants that help. Self harm is a crutch and its a scary thought to have to give it up. I don't know how you'd feel about it, but could you let her know that speaking to someone doesn't mean you expect her never to cut again just because she's seeing someone?

I'm sure you're very upset about what your dd is going through, but try not to let her see anything other than that you're concerned for her. If she's worried she's upsetting you that's just one more thing to feel bad a out iyswim ?

Do other stuff with her, don't make every conversation about her self harm and other problems. It's all very overwhelming and can feel like its taking over your life. So give her some normality back. Play a board game as a family or go to dinner or something.

Possibly online support groups may be helpful, but proceed with caution as it may be too distressing and "triggering" for her. But it is good to talk to people who are going through the same thing, maybe easier than talking to a professional.

Sorry for rambling. I don't really know for sure what I would've wanted from my parents do just a few things that may or may not help I guess

suzi13 Thu 20-Jun-13 20:18:30

This is so hard to cope with my teenage daughter self harms .. Depressed on medication ... I Feel helpless some times .. As to understand why she does it and feels she takes pleasure in showing me
Her arm and that she is happy the way she is but i discovered mums net today so at least i have somewhere to com and do not feel so alone .x

suzi13 Thu 20-Jun-13 20:26:45

Is it just a phase and why ? Would you want to scare yoourself

Butterflywgs Sat 22-Jun-13 01:01:27

Hi, you sound like a lovely dad, in fact this post brought tears to my eyes.
Please let her know you think she is fantastic.
She will shut you out, that's being a teenager, but it will still mean a lot to her to know her parents are there.
I am a bit concerned about the Sunday thing too, you say she is 'seen as a geek' - feeling rejected by her peers and isolated, even if there is no outright bullying, hurts.
Second the comments about CAMHS being useless (been through adult MH services, they are even more useless). Can you get her counselling or therapy privately? Your local Mind is a good place to start. Let her know the numbers for Mind, SANE, Samaritans etc. Also agree about online support.
All you can really do is be there, and let her know she's just fine as she is - which I can tell you are.

Lemele Sun 07-Jul-13 20:56:18

What happycrimblechuckie said. I have experience with SH and writing helped a lot. Elastic bands were a double-edged sword; I wouldn't work so hard at resisting harming (which you have to put off for at least as long as it takes to get away from what you're doing/where you are to somewhere private) as it was just there to snap the second I 'needed' it, so then it escalated for a while until i made myself stop wearing them.

I found some support from a lady on the secondary care (?) mental health team, sorry don't know exactly what she was, but I felt she at least 'sympathised with my plight' and helped me feel supported even though i don't know how else that helped. I've never got on with counselling though and i didn't during the time of depression in which i tried it - that seemed to just bring up all the bad stuff that i'd talked about loads already, just making me more messed up and upset.

All the best for her and your family.

cory Mon 08-Jul-13 15:40:45

Some people do get help from CAHMS though: it has made all the difference to my dd.

foster1234 Thu 25-Jul-13 11:12:28

My first post.

My daughter (13) presented with self harm and an eating disorder recently and I am finding it all very hard. We have always been close but as part of this she now 'hates me' and our relationship is non existent. CAMHS have not got the resources locally to help her so I have had to find a private clinic to help her and whilst she is engaging with her therapist she has also told her that she is not ready to get better yet.

I find it all so scary and worry I am getting everything wrong. I just had an awful exchange with her and I wonder if I have got it terribly wrong ...

We had an unfortunate exchange this morning (I was telling her she had to take food to her netball course, and refused to allow her to take scissors in case she self harmed).

Said she hated me and that the reason she self harmed was because of me and because I treated her like a baby. I just repeated that I loved her and tried to say that if she hated me so much that she should talk to me about it. I implied that when she wanted to hurt herself she should come and tell me and I would be happy to hear whatever she had to say. She said I would get angry and tell her off. I pointed out I wasn't telling her off at that moment, that I loved her and would always be happy to hear whatever she wanted to say. The response was why would she talk to someone she hated so much, the person who was the reason for her self harm.

Sorry to trouble you with this, but I really don't know how to play it, I feel I am getting every exchange wrong.

blimppy Thu 25-Jul-13 12:24:08

Hi. Just read this and, while I have no expertise to offer, didn't want to leave it unanswered. I do understand your pain and from what you say you don't appear to be doing anything wrong. I think all you can do is to continue to reassure her you love her, offer her your support and acknowledge that she's feeling a lot of pain at the moment - all of which you seem to be doing. My 13 year daughter recently self harmed. In her case, it seems to have been a reaction to friendship problems, lack of self confidence and a sense that she was "losing" me. It was the worst feeling I've ever had. I've responded by really upping the amount of attention she gets from me and trying to acknowledge that she has some really strong and difficult feelings she is trying to cope with. I also spoke with the school, who have responded well. I think one of the best bits of advice I got was to avoid turning it round to be about me. It's important not to feel, or at least not to show that you feel, guilty and make sure your response is all about your DD and not you. It is really hard, but you clearly love her and sound like you are being there for her. I hope things get better for you both soon.

foster1234 Thu 25-Jul-13 13:34:16

Thanks blimppy. She originally self harmed a couple of months ago. It then stopped, the eating disorder started, and now she hurts herself daily. I couldn't agree more that it is about her, not me. But it is so hard to support a child who will not engage in any conversation with you. In truth, I think she needs me desperately but is pushing me away to see if I will stick by her. Of course I will , but how to communicate that to someone who tells me all the time to 'leave her alone' and 'don't talk to me' is difficult.
I hope your daughter is getting the support she needs. It sounds like you re coping really well and that you really have a handle on it.

Cuddleczar Tue 30-Jul-13 09:37:05

"In truth, I think she needs me desperately but is pushing me away to see if I will stick by her."
Foster1234--thank you for that--it rings bells for me. Came on here because our 17yo DD, who has been self harming for almost a year now, and had her first CAMHS appointment in July, has just started doing it again even though we are away on holiday. I say "even though" because I really thought that coming away (to somewhere she loves to come every year) for a good break (away from all the friendship problems, school problems etc) would mean that she would stop doing it. She has cut herself in places that aren't normally seen but stopped doing that in preference to scratching herself in a place that can be seen--because she wanted us to know?? So I now know when it is going on. Thank you all so much for your insights and advice on this thread, very helpful. But can anyone advise--our DD totally clams up when we try to talk to her about the self harming. eg my DP asked her yesterday why she had done it again, and she went into a right stinky mood, wouldn't talk to anyone etc. Is it better to ignore it? Or is it better to try to get her to talk about it? Or try to give her extra attention for other things/topics so that she feels more loved by her family? She has one older and one younger sister and I think also she believes she is not as clever as the older one, and not as pretty as the younger one (imo, not true on either count--she is just as beautiful and clever). Also, she tends to lie in bed unless I badger her to get up (difficult because I am doing some work here). I guess I need to tackle that rather more energetically, if I am to follow Foster1234's advice.

Cuddleczar Fri 02-Aug-13 08:06:45

Any thoughts anyone?

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