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My 15 year old daughter is self harming

(18 Posts)
flossy200 Fri 21-Jun-13 11:24:38

I found out two weeks ago that my daughter has been cutting herself. I had a phone call from the school as one of her friends was concerned about her and had gone to see one of her teachers.

When she came home I tried to talk to her but she just shut down on me. She refused to talk and refused to show me her arms and legs. I handled the situation very badly and forced her to show me.

It has taken a week for her to speak to me again but she refuses to talk about the situation. She is now seeing a councillor at school but she will not talk to me about it. I have no idea what state her arms and legs are in, as she refuses to show me and I have no idea why she does this. She just says (through gritted teeth) that it is something that she has got to sort out on her own.

I am totally out of my depth and I have no idea what to do for the best. Am I doing the right thing by not forcing her to see her arms and legs? Do I leave it a few more weeks then try again?

It's breaking my heart seeing her do this and not being able to even talk to her or even see how bad the problem is.

MagicBaguette Fri 21-Jun-13 11:34:21

You're focused on how bad the PHYSICAL problem is.

To be perfectly honest it doesn't matter how bad the cuts are. The only thing that matters is why she is feeling so terrible.

You can't expect her to discuss it with you, especially if you are humiliating her by forcing her to show you. That makes me a bit sad

I was self harming at the same age, and my mother was unaware.

She is seeing a counsellor which is great.

What you need to do is support her, tell her you're always there for her if she needs you. Give her a cuddle and let her know how much she means to you and that you understand she wants to deal with this herself, but she needs to keep you informed about whats going on, and that you can get her more help if she needs it. Don't bring it up again for a while - let her come to you if she needs you. Gently keep reminding her you love her and are very concerned for her.

And apologise for forcing her to show you the cuts.

CalmingLava Fri 21-Jun-13 11:35:54

I don't have much advice/experience, other than I used to self harm at the same age, and for me it really was attention seeking/a cry for help. I wanted people to know how much I was hurting and how difficult I was finding life.

It's great that your daughter is going for counselling, that's a big step in the right direction. I personally wouldn't advise pushing her to show you her cuts. She may well be ashamed/embarrassed about them, and pushing her may make her feel worse.

I can't imagine how hard it is for you, but letting her know that you're there for her & are supporting her will really help. She may well want to open up to you in the future and it's important she knows you're there for her.

Sorry I can't offer any proper advice, hopefully someone who knows what they're talking about will come along soon.

flossy200 Fri 21-Jun-13 11:51:46

I guess that I haven't worded this very well. The school told me that I needed to see the cuts. When I said that I forced her I certainly didn't mean that I pinned her down or anything like that, I just kept saying that I needed to see them so I could understand.

Actually the cuts aren't very deep at all but there are a huge amount of them.

I am not focussed on the cuts themselves but her state of mind. She is like a closed book and refuses to talk and wont even let me touch her whether that be a touch on her hand to let her know that I am always here or a hug.

I have sat down and told her that she may think that this is something she has to do on her own but I am there every step of the way and I will be here to listen to her when she is ready to talk whether it is tomorrow or next year. I have said that if she want to talk but doesn't want to do it to my face then she can write me a note, or an email or a text. I said that she is my daughter and that I love her and I will help her in anyway I can. I also said that I wont ask any more to see her arms and legs and I wont ask any questions about it. She just told me to get out of her room.

The bottom line is she wont let me help her in any way, shape or form and I have no idea why she is hurting herself.

Toomuchtea Fri 21-Jun-13 16:16:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Turniptwirl Fri 21-Jun-13 18:44:11

The school should know better than to make you look at her arms and legs. It's the first time you've been in this situation but they will have been there before

Basically, your dd needs to learn better coping strategies. I say this as an ex self harmed who still doesn't have any really decent ones. Can you show her how you cope with the shittier bits of life and discuss things she might do when things get rough?

There is no instant answer for either of you unfortunately. All you can really do is be there if and when she is ready to talk but don't try to force the issue. When she does, don't show her shock, hurt or disgust at anything she says even if you feel them.

Butterflywgs Sat 22-Jun-13 00:03:26

I have little to add to the above posts which are spot on.
I am really shocked that the school advised you to insist on seeing the cuts - that is appalling!
That IS going to make her distrust you. You do need to apologise IMO. I'm not surprised she is shutting you out atm.
As someone has pointed out, the depth/ scale of the SH doesn't necessarily have any relation to how she's feeling.
'All you can really do is be there if and when she is ready to talk but don't try to force the issue. When she does, don't show her shock, hurt or disgust at anything she says even if you feel them.' THIS. I grew up feeling I wasn't allowed to have negative feelings because if I expressed them, my mum would get upset herself and I would feel bad.

alreadytaken Sat 22-Jun-13 00:29:22

one of the theories about self-harm is that it is a way of taking control when you are faced with a problem you can't handle. Cutting yourself, or starving yourself, is something you can control. The school should not have told you to see the cuts, insisting that you should removes control from her.

I'd suggest letting her see that you are upset that she won't allow you to help her. She's seeing a counsellor so she's accepting some help. Let her know that if she would like to see someone outside school you'll try to find someone else to talk to.

Any other family in the house?

Butterflywgs Sat 22-Jun-13 00:45:16

Yes - I forgot to add, school counsellor may not be enough. Try to find her a therapist. NHS is useless tbh - there are many charities that offer therapy/ counselling at reasonable prices. You could ask your local Mind for recommendations.
Actually, give your daughter numbers for Mind, SANE, Samaritans etc so she has someone to talk to. With the best relationship in the world, no-one wants to tell their mum exactly how crap they are feeling.

flossy200 Sat 22-Jun-13 17:42:25

Thank you for all the advice. My daughter is refusing any other help and will not go to see out GP. She has only had one session with the school councillor so I guess I will just have to be patient and see if this helps her.

Thanks again for taking the time to offer advice.


yamsareyammy Sat 22-Jun-13 17:50:00

Just for you really at this point, do you have no idea whatsoever what may cause her to want to delf harm?

Possible bullying, troubles with her dad, thinking that she is not pretty and boys wont like her, a relative died, weight issues etc?

yamsareyammy Sat 22-Jun-13 17:51:16

wanting everything perfect, scared she will fail her exams, raging hormones

mypussyiscalledCaramel Sat 22-Jun-13 18:33:52

I go on a forum, called THE MENTAL HEALTH FORUM, strangely enough.

When I plucked up the courage to tell my Mum ( at the age of 38) I printed out a sticky they had on self harm because it was easier for both of us.

All you can do is tell her that you will always be there for her when she's ready to talk.

For me its not the act, its the result of cutting that helps. Seeing the blood proves to me that I'm still alive, it is also something I can control. This. was pointed out to me by my caseworker, who had noticed that my cuts were always in a pattern with equal distance between them.

alreadytaken Sun 23-Jun-13 08:55:47

I would also be thinking hard about what might be causing this and would be considering bullying, abuse, weight issues, academic problems. Although she is refusing help I would be telling her that there are other ways of dealing with something that has upset her. You could see if something like art or music therapy is available locally, it might be more acceptable to her. Do try to give her more control over her life in any areas you can.

flossy200 Mon 24-Jun-13 12:33:24

I have done nothing but think why would she be doing this and I have come up with three things.

Firstly I know that her boyfriend self harms and in a massive way. I know that she uses a pencil sharpener and on the day that she admitted to the school what she had done her bf had been in our house all day and when I looked through her bin I found two empty sharpener casings. I think that they may have been doing it together. So maybe to does it because he does it?

The next thing is also to do with her bf. They have been together for five months and he puts really heavy emotional pressure on her. He is her first bf an maybe she is struggling with the pressure.

The last thing is that she has never been very good at talking about what's on her mind. Maybe things have got all mixed up in her head and she cant think straight.

This is all my guessing of course and there is a good chance that it is a mixture of all three and other things on top. I don't think that she has a particular problem at school. She has a great circle of friends, her grades are excellent and there has been no change in them and she goes off to school and comes home perfectly fine.

Thanks for the advice about control. I really did think that maybe this is what I have been doing wrong as I have given her too much freedom. She is at her Bfs everyday and at the weekend she is there all day long. I dont really know hat else i can do for her that will give a sense of control.

SecondhandRose Mon 24-Jun-13 15:23:08

I took DD to the GP about something else and I told her that DD is cutting. We have been referred to an NHS counsellor and it didn't take long at all. DD is happy to see her and our GP was very helpful and on the ball.

alreadytaken Mon 24-Jun-13 16:07:44

in that case OP it may be the pressure the boyfriend is exerting on her that is the problem and she fears you may try to stop her seeing him if she opens up about it. Do you know why the boyfriend does this and if he would be willing to seek help? I think you need some professional advice on how to handle this and would suggest you chat with your gp about what help might be available for both of them.

yamsareyammy Thu 27-Jun-13 11:24:57

Yes, sounds like she is to some extent copying the boyfriend.

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