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DD has been self harming

(19 Posts)
Bitoverwhelmed Mon 16-Jun-14 19:40:53

I've name changed because she knows I use MN and I hope this all doesn't come out jumbled, but I'm quite upset at the moment.

DD is 14, her school phoned me today to tell me that she's been cutting the top of her legs - I had no idea anything in particular was even going on with her.

We've had a few issues arguing about what she is and isn't allowed to do - she thinks I'm too strict compared to her friends patents about curfews and where she's allowed to travel to alone...I don't think I am, one of the friends for instance is currently being looked after away from home precisely because she wasn't being supervised, I don't cast that up in arguments, but I don't think that's a fair comparison over strictness. It's just things like if she goes to an activity in a city about 20 miles away I insist on picking her up rather than letting her get the night bus home. Basically she wants a bit more freedom than she's currently mature enough to handle and resents being told no.

Her big brother (my DS, in case it sounded otherwise) has AS and she finds him very hard to deal with, I have tried to get her into sibling support groups before, but she was very resistant to the idea so I didn't push it.

But, she's mostly bright, chatty...I thought we got on well, she tells me about school, her friends, her problems, we talk things over. We do things together, she doesn't see as much as DP as she'd like because his work is very full on, but when he's at home he does spend time with her.

So basically, we've had teenagery issues, lots of arguing about things and a bit full on, but well within normal and other than between her and her brother pretty good relationships. No major traumas or events. ( I suspect none of that is really relevant, but I just wanted to give a bit of background)

So her school phoned me today, it was noticed in PE because her legs were bleeding, they'd sent her home over the weekend to tell me, but because she hadn't they've stepped in.

I spoke to her when she came home, she was quite reluctant to talk to me, we both ended up crying, I told her that I was just upset because I was worried about her and care about her, I offered to talk to her if she wanted to, or she could talk to my sister who went through a similar thing at the same age (I was no longer living at home then).

She says she doesn't know why she does it, and I've told her that because she's not wanting to talk to us about it and she threw away the list if websites the school gave her that I will need to take her to the GP to get them to refer her to someone as she needs help getting a healthier way of dealing with emotions and possibly someone to talk to.

She seems to think it's no big deal sad which is heartbreaking, but has reluctantly agreed to go to the GP tomorrow. We had a hug, she's gone out with a friend.

Does that sound ok? I'm terrified that I'm handling it wrongly...she seems very much to want to just act normally, so I'm trying to do that and crying non-stop while she's out with her friends. I know a bit about self-harming in an abstract way, it's just hit me completely out of the blue and I don't want to make her feel worse about anything, on the other hand I don't want to tiptoe round her on eggshells either.

Spidermama Mon 16-Jun-14 21:06:13

Hi Bitoverwhelmed. Sorry for you and your dd. Mine's been at it too. It's so common at her school that they've organised meetings for parents to talk about this issue. It's nearly all girls doing it too.

What's happening to our daughters? It's very worrying.

Anyway glancing down the teenagers threads I noticed that including yours there were 3 in the top 7 threads including this one which has some good advice and support.

andadietcoke Mon 16-Jun-14 21:15:10

I don't have a daughter who self harms, but I did, myself, for a long time, and it sounds to me that you handled it well. School also gave me an ultimatum but in the interim period my mum saw the cuts on my arms. Like you, she cried. She didn't understand. I too couldn't understand why it was a big deal; it was my way of coping, and if it helped me, how could it be a bad thing? I went to the GP who gave me anti depressants and referred me for counselling, and to a psychologist and a psychiatrist. The counsellor helped the most. The worst thing my mum did was 'clean' my bedroom of anything sharp. It just made me more deceitful, and probably resulted in worse injuries.
Talk to her, hug her. You're helping, I promise.

pasanda Mon 16-Jun-14 22:34:17

I could have written that post, except with my DS. I got a phone call from his school last Friday evening telling me he had cuts on his arms and they had had a chat with him about it. I did know at this point because on the Wednesday he had an athletics meet and had to wear a T-shirt so I saw the cuts (just when we were next to the triple jump! Good timing!!)

At first, when asked why he had done it his response was the classic 'I dunno'. But delving a bit deeper, he claims that the first time he did it was to see what it was like, a bit like an experiment. But he liked the feeling confused and it was 'addictive'.

He promised not to do it again and I (stupidly) believed that he wouldn't. It wasn't until I read some text messages on his phone on Sunday that I realised he had done some more sad

However….reading those messages has given me more of an understanding of it all than talking to him ever will. It seems that in ds's case, lots of his friends are doing it, including his girlfriend. It's like it's the 'in thing to do'. There was one conversation from an outraged friend who was slating everyone who had just started to do it because she has a serious problem with self harm/attempted suicide and has a dreadful home life. And tbh, I get her outrage.

Aside from the usual teenage angst (which in ds's case has literally come on overnight, about 2 weeks ago!) life is good for him. It did slightly piss me off when he was smirking about the fact that numerous adults had taken time out to chat to him about it, laughed when I said what a caring friend Ben was to send him comedy u-tube clips to cheer him up and dissuade him from doing any more cutting - he laughed because he had lied to Ben about crying on Wednesday night ( I asked him why he had cried and he said I didn't really, I was just pretending to Ben!)

Attention, attention, attention.

But… I have not got cross with him. What ever his reasons for doing it, it is obviously not normal. He is letting me rub Bio-oil into his arms at night after I make him show me his arms and legs to check for the absence of any more cuts.

So… maybe this is the case with your dd. No deep, depressive reason for doing it. She has a good life it sounds. Peer pressure. An impressionable age. Just keep up the conversations with her is all I can suggest.

ps I did removed the penknife from his room that he had been using. Maybe not the right thing to do, but I felt better!

Bitoverwhelmed Mon 16-Jun-14 22:48:17

We had another chat when she came in, I think she's relieved I know, I think that's good, I suppose.

Spidermama - I read that thread, I just didn't want to derail it with a load of huge rambley posts.

I know her friend does it too, I know it's not uncommon, it's not really helping much at the moment really...

andadietcoke - I haven't been in her room or anything, I can see how tempting that would be, but, unless I wrap her in plastic and lock her up I can't see it helping, lol.

I'm hoping for a referral to counselling or something for her, that's the point of going to the gp...I have her the option of going in by herself or going in with her, she wants me to go, so that's good because if the GP's rubbish I'll be able to do something about it.

I just feel completely floored by it and I'm trying really hard not to go into parenting overdrive and to make it even worse I think she's actually cut her legs tonight after speaking to me...I just feel completely helpless because what I want to do is empty her room, strip her off and put germolene on her - but I know that would make it 100 times worse.

She's been difficult since hitting puberty and while I won't make out I thought we were perfect...I did think we were ok, until she hit mood swings and what have you she was a sunny, confident child and the thought of her feeling like she has to cut herself to cope with life is just devastating me.

Bitoverwhelmed Mon 16-Jun-14 23:00:23

pasanda - I haven't seen them, I didn't want to force her to show me, I'm hoping she will at some point so that I know she's alright medically at least.

I think she has a pretty good life, I mean I'm questioning it just now, obviously... but...her relationship with DS is at best strained, but I've always tried to make sure she didn't feel left out because I know that can be an issue when one child has additional needs, she's had a rough ride with hormones, but on the whole.

She's had a stable childhood, I'm sure she knows we care and are doing our best or maybe she doesn't but that is the case, I'd hope she knows it.

pasanda Mon 16-Jun-14 23:14:06

Have you talked to her about the risk of infection? My ds seemed genuinely surprised when we mentioned this risk and how it might affect going swimming over the summer etc. Also, he wore a hoodie and fleecy tracksuit bottoms out on Friday night (the hottest day of the year!) to cover the cuts up because he was embarrassed. And, naturally, he boiled!! And he said he is 'fed up' of people talking to him about it. And the thought of me asking the school to give him regular counselling fills him with dread.

I think, for ds at least, these immediate consequences of what he is doing is hitting a nerve. I am also hoping against hope that because his is such a new thing for him (a week now) we are nipping it in the bud. His friends on his texts who have been long term self harmers were pleading with him to stop at this early stage because it is an addiction that is very difficult to break.

It is so, so hard to know what to say/do for the best. I can only go on what I am being presented with by my ds. I suppose I should be thankful he is showing me and letting me rub oil onto them.

pasanda Mon 16-Jun-14 23:17:43

Do you not go into her room? Anyway, before all this?

DS is not there yet, with that forbidden entry. But I guess if it wasn't usual to go into her room, to take anything out of it, such as a knife or blade, would feel more of a betrayal to her than for me.

LadyWithLapdog Mon 16-Jun-14 23:27:47

DS has been doing this too. We got the low-key 'dunno' from him for a long time. Then from another source we found out he'd been bullied and had death threats against him. He'd been under a lot of stress and had thought - for reasons too complicated to go into - that it was his fault. Horrible situation.

I think my point is, keep asking & be there. There may be something more to it. I don't want to worry you further. Huge sympathy. What's happening to our kids?

Bitoverwhelmed Mon 16-Jun-14 23:34:11

I do go in her room, but usually when she's in it, to talk to her, she puts her own clean washing away and stuff, so no I don't tend to just wander in and do things in there.

She hasn't liked it if I have gone in there recently without her...I guess I know why now sad

So it would have been a huge deal to her to go in and take things out.

Yes I did speak to her about infection and accidentally cutting too deeply.

She hasn't wanted to go swimming for months and wears thick tights, but I just wasn't looking for I said, I thought she told me things.

She's also been drawing a lot on her hands, which I saw as a recommended displacement somewhere...I've been giving her a bit of nagging about it and now I feel terrible about that.

I'm feeling pretty guilty about all sorts of stuff tonight.

pasanda Mon 16-Jun-14 23:42:16

Please don't feel guilty. (easy to say I know).

If you had known about it before, you would have been helping, just like you are now.

I think that even if a mum has a great relationship with her dc, in that they talk and tell things, to tell a parent you self harm is surely an extremely difficult thing to do.

I doubt my ds would have told me, it's just that he has cut in a very obvious place. Difficult not to notice when his school uniform is a short sleeved polo shirt!

interesting about drawing on hands - ds does that alot

Bitoverwhelmed Tue 17-Jun-14 00:05:26

LadywithLapdog - I don't think there's something like that going on, I know her friends and one of them encouraged her to speak to the school when it was noticed, so I think they'd have mentioned that too, but, I'm questioning everything so it's possible.

The hands...I don't know if it's something or nothing, I just saw it on a list of displacement activities, she's been doing really intricate patterns on her whole hand, I just thought she liked doing it, maybe she does, I haven't asked her about that yet.

I feel hugely guilty, I feel guilty that she's been doing it, I feel guilty that I didn't's not massively helpful feeling guilty, but there you go.

goodasitgets Tue 17-Jun-14 00:26:47

Ice cubes can work - holding them really tight when you want to cut or pressing them on places where you would usually cut
Or a rubber band on the wrist to flick

I cut for years. The only way I can explain it is that emotions overwhelm me and I don't voice them. I cut because it's easier to do that, feel relieved and dress an external wound than deal with an internal one
I was never suicidal, it was purely self harm

anthropology Tue 17-Jun-14 09:17:39

Bitoverwhelmed, I'm sorry this is happening and you are right to take steps to get her to a GP or find some professional support to understand a bit more. Although theres a lot of talk of how common it is now (at least it is more visible through social media etc), you are right to investigate as in my experience, it is a coping mechanism for unexpressable feelings more than it is a fashion . She may not know WHY she is doing it herself, but that's what therapy and support can help her young brain unravel as well as helping her with alternative coping mechanism. It doesnt necessarily lead to worse, but it can.
Try not to feel guilty, as you have noticed, are doing something bout it and she is young enough to get help and support. My DD started the same age, and for her it was nothing to do with other kids, she just thought everyone coped this way, but it escalated rapidly, and we didn't spot until something worse happened (this is not to scare you, but to acknowledge your concern is warranted).Noone else she knew was doing it. Given your son is AS, will camhs chat to her in a sibling capacity more urgently, if you have a relationship with them ?. I notice childline have a few pages on self harm now, Young minds have info for you and her, and apparently Relate do teen counselling in some parts of the country. Self harm alone often doesnt access CAMHS these days with the cuts in funding, but I think its worth someone with a bit more experience than a school counsellor having a chat, . At this stage, do give her germolene and plasters however, and talk about hygeine. You are evidently a loving mum and doing the right things and my DD ended up in hospital, so the guilt was dreadful. In retrospect, I realise my guilt made my DD feel worse. best of luck to both of you.

Bitoverwhelmed Tue 17-Jun-14 10:23:41

AS isn't dealt with by CAMHS here.

I'm not denying there could be an element of copying friends, but, I'm taking it seriously because even then, well it's not healthy is it.

I tried to give her germolene last night, well her dad did while I was there, she wouldn't take it, she wouldn't look at any of the websites when the school gave her them, I've looked at them, but she says they're patronising...I don't think she thinks it's a big deal at all, which terrifies me tbh.

I read up a bit about it years ago when my sister told me she had done it, so I'm trying not to put any pressure on DD or make her responsible for me being upset in case it makes it worse for her. But I'm genuinely just devastated...she's a clever, outgoing, pretty girl and the thought that someone with so much going for her is intentionally damaging herself is just horrendous and of course the realisation that it's because it's a reflection of emotional pain is almost as bad.

That makes it sound like it would be more ok if she wasn't pretty or clever, that's not what I mean at all, I mean it's just come completely out of the blue, other than being hormonal and argumentative I had no clue at all that she was struggling.

goodasitgets- I know it's not usually to do with being suicidal, that it's more often an outlet for complex emotions, thanks for trying to reassure me though, I do appreciate it.

I'll see what the GP can offer and if I don't think it's enough I'll look into sorting something myself.

Usually I go to my friends and talk things through, but, she knows them all and I don't want to at the moment as I think it's unfair to be telling people she has to deal with at the moment.

Bitoverwhelmed Tue 17-Jun-14 15:37:54

She asked me to leave after I'd ex

Bitoverwhelmed Tue 17-Jun-14 15:44:35

Try again.

She asked me to leave after I'd explained the situation to the all I know is that the doctor will send a letter to the local hospital about seeing someone either there or at school, but probably not school...sigh.

She did agree to let the Dr look at her legs though and I had said that before I left the room, so hopefully there's no medical issues.

I keep crying, which I know isn't helping her, but it's kind of what I do...I've spent the last week crying anyway over a seriously ill pet, so she knows it's what I do when I'm stressed.

anthropology Tue 17-Jun-14 17:40:43

depression can affect anyone from any social group however clever or pretty they are , and often teens who struggle are the sensitive, creative, smart ones. I have met some truly amazing young women over the last few years through my DD . Try not to feel alone as for most of us it was completely out of the blue. Its especially hard when they are so young, but the fact its happening now means you are around to help, rather than issues surfacing later when she leaves home. . She has at least agreed to see the doctor, which is an important step and talk to someone. You can also ask for some CBT support, via your GP, which I found helpful in managing my emotions to some extent. best of luck .

Bitoverwhelmed Tue 17-Jun-14 19:23:38

I know logically issues can affect anyone...but you know, I've not been massively logical. I couldn't even sit in the waiting room at the GPs while I was waiting for her because there was two little girls in there, seeing toddlers made me well up, lol.

DD didn't mind me going to my friend, so I've had tea and cried at her and I feel better, I mean not ok, but less like I've been hit by a truck.

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