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DD 13yrs self harming - what should I do?

(24 Posts)
Marymostquiet Sat 21-May-16 17:43:56

We just found out that our dd has been self harming - cutting herself with a sharp knife she took from the kitchen.

She has not cut very deeply so she doesn't need any medical treatment for her wounds but obviously there is something going on that she does need help with.

We were able to talk to her briefly (but had to end discussion as a visitor arrived) - she says she does it to punish herself when she has said something stupid or done something stupid. She also said she hates the way she looks and she thinks she is fat (she is not overweight at all). We have reassured her as much a possible about everything she mentioned.

She says some of her friends know. Her best friend found out and was very angry with her and said she shouldn't do it again. Dd says she did do it again and the friend (and another close friend) wouldn't talk to her. I know they mean well and are trying to look out for dd but they accidentally made things even worse as their not talking to her has really upset her too.

Obviously dh and I are absolutely devastated. Devastated that she feels this way and upset that we didn't notice sooner and that she felt she couldn't come to us. She seems absolutely normal, like her usual happy self but clearly that isn't the case.

So what now? Should we take her to the GP. I'm unsure as to whether to try and deal with this in a softly softly way or not? Can anyone offer any advice, I feel completely lost.

Marymostquiet Sat 21-May-16 17:46:00

By softly softly I mean just at home rather than involving professionals straight away.

Arion Sat 21-May-16 17:50:32

You need to encourage her to talk to someone, I don't think you can deal with it at home. I've self harmed in the past and for me, personally I've needed proper support via a counsellor.

I'm attaching a couple of screenshots I've saved down as images, hopefully you'll be able to see them ok. If not there are lots of support pages on Pinterest with information tables about self harm, why it happens and ways of distracting.

Arion Sat 21-May-16 17:52:41

Here is a link to a fact sheet on self harm by re-think. My counsellor pointed me to this.

Marymostquiet Sat 21-May-16 18:15:27

Thanks Arion, loads of useful info. I'll have a read.

lljkk Sat 21-May-16 18:57:33

DD is in yr9 & knows several kids who self-harm. It's very good that your DD is talking to friends about it, that's a first step to getting her problems out of her head & somewhere she can try to deal with them direct rather than internalise her angst.

Socialaddict Sat 21-May-16 19:00:58

This resonates very strongly with me. I would advise you to take her to the GP ASAP and she will be referred to CAMHS. I'd go this route earlier rather than later. Also give her a lot of TLC at home. If you were too strict -change! Give her breathing space and watch her carefully without it being obvious of course. It can be a long way to full recovery but if the child is usually normal "problem free" one, it should be dealt with very quickly.
You are myself 2 years ago, so stay strong and don't despair. It is a horrible age 13!

houseeveryweekend Sat 21-May-16 19:09:22

Yes take her to the GP who will refer her to a counsellor. She needs to have someone external and not emotionally involved that she can talk to. At home id advise just being as calm about it as you can manage. Any strong reaction towards it such as anger or such as being overly considerate about it by tiptoing around her etc could have a worse effect. Try and not make her feel like she is ill or that it is a massive deal. Just try and act as you normally would whilst stressing that you love her and she can always talk to you if she needs to.
I went through this from the age of 10 until my mid teens. For me it was about managing mood swings that come with adolescence. I couldnt handle the guilt over my strong emotions and the adreniline that came from the pain of cutting myself would calm me down.
Try not to worry that its a sign of longer term mental illness. This is a very common thing to happen to teen girls and usually doesnt last in to adulthood. Obviously there are some cases where it is a sign of a more permanent underlying mental illness like bipolar or a personality disorder but its not useful to diagnose that during childhood unless it is very obvious because a childs personality will change so much into adulthood and often things that look like they might be symptoms of mental illness will diminish. Often its just a bad reaction to the stress and feeling out of control that comes with becoming a teenager. It might also be useful to help her to do things that make her feel more in control and self assured. I think its becoming more and more prevalent that young girls do this because there is so much pressure on them now days to look and be perfect.

noblegiraffe Sat 21-May-16 19:17:08

This is very common in teenagers, GP will be able to refer to CAMHs. Worth letting the school know too, at my school we get emailed a list of children who have recently self harmed so we can keep an eye on them.

Keep an eye on her online activity. Use parental controls to block tumblr, it's bloody awful for encouraging self-harm, and see who she is following on social media.

SansaClegane Sat 21-May-16 19:23:32

Take her to see a professional. Do it now - even though you mean well, she needs to speak to someone who is objective, and who understands.
I started self-harming around that age, and though my parents found out, they just got angry or tried to sweep it under the carpet, like if you don't talk about it it doesn't exist. I went on to self harm for years, and finally sought out help myself when I was at uni as this (and several other mental health issues) meant I couldn't even study properly and I knew if I continued down that road it would lead to an early end. The years of therapy that followed honestly changed my mind, and though I've still got issues now I'm aware of them and have got strategies in place to cope.

Kennington Sat 21-May-16 19:32:32

Don't panic
I did this for a couple of years - I realised it would happen around 3-5 days before period and everything changed
Treatment via taking the pill and various multivitamins plus cutting back on caffeine
Obviously it could be many many other things but it could be as banal as that

Jenni2legs Sat 21-May-16 19:32:41

Yes please do take her to the GP, also I'd start asking her to come on a nightly walk with you. It's a practical step you can start straight away while waiting for your appointment.
The exercise is good for depression as is the social aspect of walking with you. It's also a great way of making people talk without the pressure of a sit down discussion.
When I was self harming my diet was also quite bad so I'd possibly look into a multivitamin too.

JustDanceAddict Sat 21-May-16 19:45:47

Def take to GP. My DD had thoughts of SF when she was 12 due to anxiety - thankfully she never wentvthrough with it - but I took to GP and she got some CBT. Not sure how she is now - this was a year ago and she's had no treatment since - but no cutting, and she seems happier. The GP said it was very common, but not 'normal', so needed treatment ie, counselling.

Sickofthetantrums Sat 21-May-16 19:52:54

Hi, your situation sounds so familiar, we found out that our eldest DD was self-harming when she 13. The best advice we had was to talk to the school, the GP was pretty useless, she referred us to CAMHS, but DD wasn't deemed serious enough to warrant treatment . The school, however, provided her with 1:1 counselling and group sessions, they even managed to get her CAHMS support over the summer holiday. She is 15 now, the counselling has finished, but she has a "trusted adult " at school that she can go to when things get too much . She does still self-harm (cutting and burns) but quite rarely (i think!) and she has never needed medical attention. It hasn't been easy , I feel that I have failed her ,she feels that she has failed us , lots of tears and shouting later... I know she is trying her best , I am trying to be here for hugs and cuddles for her, and trying very hard not to make too much out of any self-harming episodes .

Marymostquiet Sat 21-May-16 21:04:35

Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences, it is very reassuring.
I'm finding it very hard to pair the image of a teen so distressed they are hurting themselves to find release with the seemingly happy, together daughter I see every day.

I will take her to the GP this week. I'm not sure whether she will be willing or not. I can't speak to her at the moment as she has gone to her friends for a sleepover - I didn't cancel as I didn't want to be overly dramatic about finding out and go into over protective overdrive. I will also go in and speak to her school about what has been happening.

Should I let dd know that I am speaking to school initially? I am quite concerned that she will be very resistant to that, although I do think it is important that they know. Urgh. I am so scared of doing the wrong thing.

leonardthelemming Sat 21-May-16 22:43:54

Should I let dd know that I am speaking to school initially? I am quite concerned that she will be very resistant to that, although I do think it is important that they know. Urgh. I am so scared of doing the wrong thing.

I would say so. Strangely, I have no personal experience of this, despite being a Year 9 form tutor (in a girls' school) for many years. However, from what I've read, not feeling in control can be a contributory factor, and your talking to the school "behind her back" could well be regarded - by her - as you taking control from her, possibly aggravating the situation.

Yet it would be helpful for the school to know. So discuss it with her before you take it further. Of course, if she is really adamant that you don't tell the school you still have a problem... Perhaps suggest she does some research of her own. This link might be a good starting point:

Mishaps Sat 21-May-16 22:52:38

Unfortunately it is a bit of an epidemic with teenage girls at the moment. It is almost a badge of honour. I do hope that you can find a suitable counsellor to help her with this.

Sickofthetantrums Sun 22-May-16 07:43:17

Be open with your daughter, and hopefully it will encourage her to reciprocate. My DD knew I was planning to talk to the school, she'd been there when the GP recommended that we did. The school (1000+ pupils, academy) said that it was a surprisingly common situation, they had a counselling program on site, DD saw a counsellor within the fortnight. She didn't click with that counsellor, but did get on with the next. Our liaison officer did say that (cold comfort) at least DD wasn't indulging in riskier behaviours like drink or drugs! Like a pp said, I wonder how much of this is triggered by hormones, I certainly remember how miserable I felt as a teenage girl, and if i'd known about self-harm at that age I do wonder whether i would have tried it.

lljkk Sun 22-May-16 08:05:41

Yes let her form tutor know & they will disseminate the info to the Safeguarding team who know whatever is approved of latest strategy (mostly softly softly).

Agree about the badge of honour... one of DD's SH-mates (boy, actually) is a manipulative attention seeker (DD says so!). Also a very mixed up vulnerable kid who has moments of impressive maturity, too. Such are kids.

Florida41 Sun 22-May-16 11:44:15

hi ,
I was in your shoes just over a year ago , found out my DD 13 was self harming and had been for a couple of months over Xmas, ( with pencil sharpener blades and razor blade, she. would dismantle the razors that were in the bathroom, .said she felt depressed and suicidal ( had to buy a safe to put all the paracetamol in )

like you compleatly devastated ,hopeless , felt like my heart was in two , blamed myself for not noticing .could not see any light at the end of the tunnel.
have cried so many tears over the last year .

Took her to the Drs that very same night.
had to have 6 weeks of school counciling before camhs would take her on
(school counciling was hopeless)

WELL just over a year on ,
been with camhs since sept 2015.( 9 months)
At some points I must say I really did not fell like we were getting anywhere at all with camhs .
Had to push to get her on fluoxetine as things were going from bad to worse , she had by then (Feb 2016)also started to make herself sick after eating nearly every day .
saying she felt fat and bloated all the time.
I got her on medication , this has now been upped twice from 20 to 30 to 40 over the last couple of months.
wow .....I feel like I'm getting my girl back,
she has stopped cutting and over the last couple of weeks has only been sick once a week .where as it was nearly every day.
so much has improved , she seems a lot happier, dose not shut herself away in her room so much ,she smiles a lot more , which makes me smile .

if you had asked me a year ago ,I never thought we would have got here ,she seemed to take one step forward and two back , extremely mentally exhausting for me ( husband works away a lot and puts his head in the sand) if it wasn't for my mother that I can off load on when I have been feeling really stressed don't know what I would have done.

really it will get better but it will be a slow .
get her to the Drs to get her to camhs as the dr won't put her on medication ,only a pyhchiatrist will do that ( if medication needed)
be there for her to listen , but don't push her too hard.
be patient with her.
make sure you have someone to lean on as well ,to talk to .
just love her.
me and my DD are now a lot closer than we were , even thought we had a good relationship before.
hope you get the right help and you and you dd get through this.
hugs to you all , and keep going . xx

t875 Wed 25-May-16 13:41:50

Awful OP. Can I add also please check her social media definitely tumblr that is awful for dark depressing stuff / check she isn't on a site called pro Anna my dd was looking at this and we have had some issues it is a horrendous website which should be banned. But check her computers documents emails history. Get the filters on your provider. could also have a friend going through stuff she won't tell you about so check her texts.
Also call young minds and look on their website they can also call you back. I did this and the lady that called was a amazing.

Hide all she can harm herself too which I'm sure you have. You read so much about SH on this site it's about time they Atleast made sharpeners that blades don't come out!!

All the best OP great advise on here. Hope she finds peace very soon x

t875 Wed 25-May-16 13:44:19

Pro Anna promotes to be skinny - skinny is good. Gives ideas how to fast and not eat. Terrible website. angryCouldn't believe what I was reading. We have blocked this along with tumblr.

t875 Sat 28-May-16 07:26:14

How's she going OP? X

Eleanoreliiza Mon 30-May-16 01:08:32


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