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Self harm: how/when does it stop?

(26 Posts)
MoominMammasHandbag Tue 28-Jan-14 12:57:35

Just this really. Despite being very loved, popular, bright and pretty my teen cuts herself. She is generally a bit down, has to be chivvied a bit regarding hygiene, self care issues. To the outside world she is a successful kid with a great social life.
She is noticeably more "up" after hurting herself - to the extent that I secretly despair whenever she is a bit more cheery.
She completely pulled the wool over the CAHMS person's eyes: they are convinced she is fine and she gets quite hysterical if we suggest going back to them.
So do we just leave her to carry on with this as she is generally OK? Or is she really not OK? Will she grow out of it or is she likely to grow up to have even more serious problems?
And how can we best help her?
To be honest DH and I have absolutely no experience of depression or mental health issues. I just don't get it at all. I am so worried about her.

shanelle5 Wed 29-Jan-14 21:46:12

Sorry youve had no replies as yet OP, I too have a self harming DD aged 14 and its a tough one. I would also like to know any experiences of other Mums on this topic - any info at all would be good but particularly along the lines you mentioned re when and how does it end. If anyone has had a self harmer here, would love to read your story and any bits of advice please. Hope you dont mind me bumping this and tagging on OP x

moanstripes Wed 29-Jan-14 22:27:01

I was a self harming teen from 14-18 and I just suddenly stopped, without support from therapy etc. I can't really say why I stopped, I just didn't feel the urge to do it any more. I think it is a bit different these days as it's so widespread and there is more of a group mentality (I didn't know anyone else at school who did it and always did it in secret, I've heard that they do it in groups and share photos online these days).

I have quite deep scars from mine and I wish I'd got proper treatment for some of them (or at least used something like steri strips to close the wound). They are still visible and I'm self conscious about them. So the only way I'd suggest to help is to ensure that any deep cuts receive proper dressing. And there are strategies like using ice cubes or elastic bands which are less harmful apparently (but never tried it myself and wouldn't have worked for me).

I don't know about future outlook, I have had lifelong MH issues into adulthood tbh and currently have problems with depression, eating disorders etc. But it sounds like your dd is at least keeping up some social life, which I certainly couldn't manage, so I don't think it sounds like her problems are as serious as mine were.

MoominMammasHandbag Wed 29-Jan-14 23:46:55

Thank you both for replying. I am sorry to hear you are still having problems Moanstripes.
DD is 14, and the third of four. She is very bright (top 5% in her year without much apparent effort), but a bit quiet. I feel like she has slipped through my fingers while I've been dealing with her more outwardly demanding siblings. She is a a bloody outlaw though. Smiles sweetly and acts all compliant then does precisely what she wants with no apparent conscience. She is also a very good liar.
I have read that kids prevented from self harming as a release, sometimes do worse things to themselves.
I am so worried and our CAHMS have been absolutely useless.

Guiltypleasures001 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:37:03

Hi op the chances are she doesn't meet the criteria for CAMH
Have you asked at her school if they have an in house counsellor.

If not get in touch with your local YMCA for your area as they offer counselling services for free for kids aged 13 to 25.

Can you tell me do you know what she is doing with regards the self harm is she cutting.

If so is it down or across?
She needs to keep her blade or weapon of choice clean and the wound if she makes herself bleed. Make sure she has some kind of anti bacterial wipes or fluid to clean both. There's always a reason kids self harm and it my not be an obvious one.

You have mentioned that you are focussing quite a bit on younger siblings, do you see her as the capable and coping one who gets on with stuff?

If kids are cutting it's because they are in pain, to gain some relief from this they hurt themselves. Sometimes it's because no one is taking any notice and sometimes it's because they can't articulate how they feel in to words. Occasionally it's a feeling rather than a thought, there's ways and means to get at these thoughts and feelings but you have tonight them in front of a counsellor first, preferably one who is integrative as well as some CBT aspects.


craftysewer Fri 31-Jan-14 02:09:42

I found out my dd was self harming last summer. Unknown to us, before we found out, her friends persuaded her to talk to a school counsellor who in turn managed to get her referred to a local charity who specialised in counselling those who self harm. It probably isn't in your area, but it might be worth checking out there website: to see if their is anything that can help you understand it a bit more. I had to take it very slowly with my dd, she wouldn't talk to me about it and I found it really hard to deal with. I have spent months now slowly rebuilding our relationship and trying to increase her self confidence. I agree with a lot of what Guiltypleasures says regarding teenagers not articulating how they feel in to words and I found out later that my daughter couldn't understand why we couldn't see what was happening to her and was inwardly crying out for help, but we didn't see it. All I can suggest is trying to keep the lines of communication open with her, even when she doesn't want to talk to you. It was a big step for us to get her to sit with me of an evening, rather than in her bedroom. My dd also refused to go to CAHMS because a friend of hers said they were useless. You sound like a very caring mum who wants to do your best for your daughter, just make sure that while you support her, you look after yourself as well.

Sillylass79 Fri 31-Jan-14 02:20:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 31-Jan-14 11:03:34

Thanks everyone.

She has seen the CAMHS people once. We got a referral from the GP (who was actually lovely and helpful). CAMHS were incredibly crap: no one answering the phone, failing to pass on messages, failing to get back to us. It took ages for them to even give us an appointment, then ages to wait for the actual appointment. At our visit the counsellor/nurse? talked to us all for about 10 minutes, obviously summed us up as some nice middle class supportive family and printed out a couple of sheets of information, (nothing I hadn't already found out myself with a quick google). I insisted she spoke to DD alone, as I thought she might open up a bit without us being there. She did so quite reluctantly, and took all of five minutes to decide that DD was pretty much fine. (Basically DD told her what she wanted to hear). It was definitely not worth the grief and upset of getting DD to participate.

I did speak to the school after DD had a melt down one morning that made her miss an ISA. School were pretty good. Rearranged everything and were very supportive. They are keeping an eye on her. DD is deeply unimpressed with this, reckons the pastoral woman is like Professor Umbridge. She won't consider any counselling.

The actual self harming I originally discovered was a couple of shallow scratches on her wrist and some deep long ones on her thigh. I have discovered quite a few bloodstained tissues since and she tells me she is cutting her hip. We go swimming quite a lot and she wears a tankini and there is nothing visible.
She uses her razor, I could confiscate it I suppose but she might use something worse.

At the moment we are concentrating on keeping her busy. She has a decent social life, a few nice hobbies (youth theatre and riding), but she has always liked mooching in her room and reading/drawing/listening to music. I suspect she finds us all a bit annoying. She seems to self harm when something goes wrong in her life, or when she feels under pressure. Silly stuff like DD1 asking her to model for her photography project. She had a massive melt down over that.

I feel like we are all on eggshells at the moment. A friend's mother tried to take her own life last week: she must be in her 60s. Is DD going to be like this all her life?

postmanpatscat Sat 01-Feb-14 06:17:48

My DD now 16 self harmed for almost a year. The worst points were the overdose of iron tablets (7, toxic dose is 20) and when I saw she had carved 'ugly' into her forearm. She cut her arms and thighs with a pencil sharpener blade. She stopped last summer. She saw camhs and had counselling at school but I don't think that's why she stopped. I think she could only stop once she had revealed the massive issue she was dealing with and once that was out in the open she relaxed more. I also think leaving school helped as she was friends with others who did this.

Lemonsponge Sat 01-Feb-14 10:03:46

Some of these posts are so useful, thank you. There's also some helpful views/info on this previous thread:
also this one:

Topseyt Sat 01-Feb-14 18:56:54

This is an issue for me too, and I have discovered it in my 11 year old daughter, who has also used a pencil sharpener blade. Incredibly worrying, as a parent and I now find it very hard letting her out of my sight at all.

My daughter has managed to open up somewhat to staff at her school and to me. The school have been fantastic, and I think she initially found it easier to open up to a third party. I feel useless though. I wish I had spotted the problem much earlier, but she has been a brilliant little actress, giving little or no outward signs.

I really can't go into any details publicly, but our CAMHS appointment is coming up. I will be combing through the links and ideas mentioned here too. Many thanks everyone. I wish you all the very best, and send all the support I can muster.

It does help to see that we are not alone.

mypussyiscalledCaramel Sat 01-Feb-14 19:49:10

I am currently getting DS1's gf to open up slowly about her SH.

I discovered the other day that her parents had split up, she is one of five and was the only DC her Mum didn't want.

I have had similar issues as her in my teens and SH now. NONE of the alternative suggestions work for her or me, because its the blood seeping out that we need.

You are watching your emotions and problems leaving your body. Its a release.

I am hoping that I can get her to trust me enough to talk, because she, too, won't see a counsellor.

She went to the DR's at the schools behest and spent more time talking about her relationship with my D's than the SH issue.

mypussyiscalledCaramel Sat 01-Feb-14 19:51:24

DS not D's mutter, mutter, autocorrect, mutter

craftysewer Sun 02-Feb-14 18:55:12

I have found it difficult as a parent to find support for myself so I can, in turn, support my daughter. In our area, we have a system of referral for people with depression, etc to be referred quite quickly to a MH team who 'assess' the situation as they see it. On explaining how DD's self harming was causing me concern and anxiety I was told that they could not discuss that as that would be 'helping dd through me' and that was not what they were there for. Never mind that I was awake all night worrying about her, blaming myself, etc and wondering if she would have a life time of MH problems either inherited from me or brought on by her own problems. Has anyone else managed to find support for themselves?

Topseyt Sun 02-Feb-14 20:20:13

Crafty, I really have no idea what to expect as I have never been through this before. I must say I really can't understand the attitude you seem to have encountered from your daughter's MH team. What on earth could be the harm in helping your daughter through you, as well as in their sessions with her? I would have thought it could only be an advantage, though I am no expert.

I hope that our local CAMHS will be willing to show me (and my husband) how best to help our daughter, who is only 11 after all. A do and don't list would at least be a starting point. After all, this sort of thing makes us parents feel helpless enough. We need help too.

postmanpatscat Sun 02-Feb-14 21:07:39

I read 'Self Harm: The Path to Recovery' by Kate Middleton (not the Duchess of Cambridge, I assume!) The thing that stands out now was that if you take the sharp things away, they may turn to something more dangerous.

I could never get my head around how my child could cut repeatedly into her own body, yet could not even bear to watch an injection or blood test on tv, let alone allow one to be done to her. She would run from the room screaming and crying if you so much as poked her arm accidentally, and is now on the waiting list for CBT.

shanelle5 Sun 02-Feb-14 21:16:28

Hi again, I also feel a huge need to find support for myself as like others have said, its quite a hard one to come to terms with and does certainly bring up a lot of guilt. I found this website really useful, they have pages on SH and a few other things that run alongside it ie depression or eating disorders. More importantly they have a good section for parents along with a helpline for real advice! Dont know if the link will work anyway, hope it helps

Topseyt Mon 03-Feb-14 10:54:18

Good link. Will be reading it more over the next couple of days.

CouthyMow Sat 08-Feb-14 23:25:28

CAHMS don't support for self-harm any more, I am having the same issue with my 15yo DD. There doesn't seem to be much information for the parents on how to help their DC either.

Selks Sat 08-Feb-14 23:55:10

OP, I'm sorry that you're having all this worry re your DD's self harming.

Sorry to butt into the thread but I'm a CAMHS practitioner and just need to respond to those on here saying CAMHS does not offer support for self harm. CAMHS most definitely does offer support for self harm. The criteria for being accepted into CAMHS varies from area to area but I've worked in three different area CAMHS services and they all have worked with self harm - it is a core part of CAMHS. Sometimes however there are other services that work with 'lower level' self harming i.e. where there is not concern re suicidal ideation.

CAMHS is NHS. We have had our funding cut to the bone, we have had vacancies frozen and don't have anywhere near enough staff. Referrals have doubled in the last three years. I personally hold a caseload that is double what it should be. CAMHS has to prioritise to the most severely ill and the crisis work. I hate that it is like this and it is breaking my heart to see my service so desperately overstretched and the desperate and worried parents who - often rightly - feel that their child isn't getting enough help. sad

Sorry to hijack OP

Selks Sat 08-Feb-14 23:58:03

OP, I would suggest going back to your GP and ask for a re-referral to CAMHS. A different practitioner might help your DD engage more, or you could enquire whether family therapy could be offered - research shows that to be an effective therapy for self harm. Best wishes.

Topseyt Mon 10-Feb-14 11:12:44

Well, we have had two CAMHS sessions since I last posted on this thread. One in which my husband, daughter and I were all present. It lasted about an hour and a half, and was about gathering lots of background as well as making sure we all understood what was happening. We liked the lady assigned to my daughter's case, and it was good to see my initially terrified child begin to relax somewhat.

The second was two days later, of a similar length. It was myself and my daughter, though largely I remained in the waiting room thinking that my daughter may well relax more and open up better without me hanging over her (I think that did happen).

Tomorrow morning I have to attend a meeting at my daughter's school, at which the CAMHS adviser and several members of school staff will be present in order to discuss how best to support her there.

So, I am happy with the service so far, but still feel out of my depth with my daughter, and unsure how we can help/change things and get her out of this black hole.

One step at a time though, and there are further sessions to come.

Isittooearlyforwine Thu 03-Apr-14 11:02:50

My daughter is also self harming and has been under CAMHS with severe depression since Christmas sadly they promise so much and deliver nothing. The psychiatrist has said that with the self harming it releases serotonin and therefore gives her both an actual and physical buzz and release. They have also advised me that I am not to stop her doing it as otherwise she may escalate to something worse. I found it difficult to cope with actually letting her cut her arms to shreds so although we do have sterilised razor blades, incase she really does want to cut, I have given her alternatives to "hurt" herself which are not quite so painful for either of us - the first is just a hairband on her wrist which she flicks at her wrist causing a huge amount of pain but no permanent damage and the other is a red marker pen which she uses to highlight what she feels she wants to do - she has still cut a few times but not as much as she was doing. Have been told that it is normally just a phase that they go through so hopefully there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

KreepyKid Mon 07-Apr-14 03:21:16

Hi. I would like to tell you now that I am fourteen. I know that I am technically not qualified to be replying to this, but I was a self harmer. My father died when I was eight, my mum got cancer at the same time, and though she recovered she married another man later that year. I like my stepfather to begin with, but after the marriage he began to get more demanding, saying that I needed responsibities and telling me off every time I made an accidental mistake. He was also very fond of saying "don't get in a huff" when I wasn't in one, something that only irritated me. When I was thirteen I was having a great time with a friend, and we were laughing, when my stepladder reminded me of something I needed to do. I said "oh yeah, I'd forgotten," and leapt up to get shoes on. Apparently this was me in a strop, because he told me I was in a huff. Later on he said he was getting fed up of me being in a huff all the time. I snapped, and told him I didn't get in a huff until he told me I was in one, at which point he grabbed my hair and tried to push me into a tree, then let me go. I picked up a stick to try to protect myself and he came up behind me. I backed away, telling him to stay away but he just grabbed the stick from me, pushed me to the ground and kicked me seven or eight times. My mother said we were leaving him, bit a couple of weeks later apparently everything was ok again, though I didn't even get an apology. I hated my mother then, too
It was around four months later that I started cutting myself. I knew it was wrong, but it made me hate myself more, and therefore do it more. I felt so much better afterwards, that sone times even now, I think back on it with something close to nostalgia.
I don't know how I stopped. U told my mother when my stepdad wasn't there. She was shocked, but agreed not to tell him when I reminded her of what he had said concerning self-harmer before. (ie, they just need a good slap...!)
She refused to talk to me about it in the morning, either. So I knew I was alone, but I had been for years, so it was nothing new. I had only two friends, both of which lived in another contract since we had moved to Spain. Neither of them were keeping on contact either, though I sent them letters quite often.
I just stopped, and I don't know how. Now, though things are better, I still miss it a little. I'm trying to explain how addictive it can be. I am sorry that this post wasn't very helpful. I think I started writing with something helpful on my mind, and have now forgotten it. Sorry.
All I know is, that all I really wanted was a proper friend who would listen to everything, my darkest secrets, and still like me, accept me. But my only friends refused to even write to me.
Sorry this didn't help, and I hope your daughter gets over it.

P.s, sorry if there are any spelling mistakes on this, I was typing on,my new phone. smile

KreepyKid Mon 07-Apr-14 03:23:49

I forgot to mention that I found writing to be very calming, and kept me off it. I have now wrote two fiction novels. It's what I go back to when I'm feeling depressed. X

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