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Self harm - what to look for

(38 Posts)
OKMom Fri 14-Oct-16 23:58:15

My daughter cuts herself. It was a terrible shock for me when she told me about it. But now that I look back some of the almost ordinary things I almost noticed were obvious.

She was moody. At the age of about 10 her demeanour changed and occasionally she did things which in my gut didn't feel right. She sometimes banged her head. She sometimes said she wanted to kill herself. It didn't happen often and between times she seemed fine. Then she started hitting me, and one time she bit me, quite hard. I asked for help. Something didn't seem right. For a while she seemed to improve.

I found things, broken hair grips. Pencil sharpeners with no blades. Broken pencils. The smell of tcp. Used plasters, not given to her by me. Damage occasionally to clothes and bedding. She wouldn't let me in her room.

The thing is, I wasn't looking for it. I know now. If you see these things ask yourself the questions. Sharpeners don't just lose their blades. Razors don't just disappear. Plasters are needed for cuts. What cuts? How? Where? Hair grips don't just break. But they do if they are used to take blades if pencil sharpeners! Make sure you give safe sharpeners E.g helix Oxford have a safety screw. Get the school to replace unsafe ones. Notice. Be present

Self harm is addictive, secret and risky emotionally as much as physically. The recovery process is slow because self harm is a coping strategy which works to deal with distress. It's hard to unlearn if the child is distressed.

It's shocking, but of course our shock isn't ghe point. The kid is trapped in a cycle by the time we discover it. I am sharing this to help others. Be aware, more aware than me.

lljkk Sat 15-Oct-16 02:16:08

Thanks for sharing, that must be hard. flowers
My teen DD talks a lot about self-harm in her peer group, the kids seem very aware that it happens.
Have you found anything that you can do that seems to help, reduce the risks?

OKMom Sat 15-Oct-16 18:19:40

There are obvious things, like locking away meds, household cleaners, knives and razors, and periodically cleaning out her room and removing blades, if any. When actively self harming the aim is risk reduction. Communication, if possible, sympathy for what she's going through and gaining her trust to give me her blades when she can. It's obviously very wearing attending a and e late in the night to have wounds dressed, but it's necessary. She doesn't always want me to see at the time but the nurses are kind, and this means she gets help, even if not from me.

I have two kitchen knives and only one razor out at a time. I can then account for the items which could cause the most harm. Mostly she is so much better, and that's why I am now able to share these posts.

Hope this helps

ImperialBlether Sat 15-Oct-16 18:30:18

I've sent you a PM, OP.

Pestilence13610 Sat 15-Oct-16 18:31:04

She can pick up a piece of glass off the street, pull a drawing pin out the wall or any other ingenious object she can think of. You can't stop them self harming, only make it more secret.
Are you getting help from CAMHs or similar to tackle the cause not the release?

Florida41 Sun 16-Oct-16 20:11:13

my daughter has self harmed , she used pencil sharpener blades and dismantled razor blades .
at first I would search her room high and low when she was at school and take away the things that she had hid to use , but she was alway able to replace them , borrowing a pencil sharpener from someone at school , but after a while my heart still said I should remove them but my head relised that she could go in garage and get a baked bean tin lid or something worse. so I would leave them but make sure they where clean ( which some people will say was wrong and I should have removed them ) and believe me it was difficult to leave them.
signs I missed were staying in room a lot more than normal, curtains drawn , not going out with her friends so much , listening to (what I call) screamo heavy music. always wearing long sleeves ( but it was winter stared in Nov/ Dec and I found out beginning of Feb ) just very distance with the rest of the family.
has now been on medication for 8 months and I have got my little girl back (15) now we are closer than ever .
hugs to all that are going through this , I did think there would never be light at the end of the tunnel but there was.

marvelousdcomics Tue 18-Oct-16 20:16:03

My DD (14) is also a self harmer. Uses razor blades, pencil sharpener blades. I don't confiscate these things. It is a coping strategy, and due to one of her friends attempting suicide more than once, I don't want that to happen so I leave her be. I sterilise them, buy new ones, supply her with wipes, plasters, bandages. She shows me her arms every day. If she's done it, we hug, put a film on, have a chat, a cry. If she hasn't, we do the same things anyway. I support her through everything. Since she's told me, she doesn't do it as much and is a lot happier.

Florida41 Tue 18-Oct-16 21:14:02

marvelousdcomics I am so glad that I'm not the only one that dose not confiscate the blades , I have battled with myself many a time asking if I done right by leaving them .
like u my daughter will show me her arms and legs now , we hug more and she will tell me a lot more than she ever has done .
but has now not cut for 6 months,
she did go on to start making herself sick for a couple of months ( another coping strategy) but all good now for a couple of months .
fingers crossed things are look up .

Note3 Tue 18-Oct-16 21:36:47

Thank you for sharing this information. I am sorry you're having to go through this with your DC. I am petrified of all the what ifs for when my DD's are older and self harm us one thing I've never experienced myself so I'm grateful you shared your knowledge.

I hope your DC manage to find other ways to express themselves safely.

user1497557435 Thu 03-Aug-17 09:22:45

Florida. What meds did you get for your DD? Am having similar issues with my DD. Its heartbreaking. If you're in USA meds policy different from UK but I'd be interested to know.

Florida41 Thu 03-Aug-17 19:49:28

Hi , I had to persist to get her on medication as talk therapy was not working after a year .
She is on fluxotine 40mg a day , she started on 20 a day and we increased them every 10/12 weeks , until we saw a difference. She has now leveled out on 40mg a day . We will start to decrease them soon with fingers crossed.
But now no cutting ,making herself sick for over 1 year .
Never thought I would see light at the end of a very dark tunnel, but it's sooo much better now .
Hope all your dc get the help they need .xx and big hug to all the struggling parents. It will get better .

user1497557435 Thu 03-Aug-17 22:49:29

Thank you. Are you in UK?

Florida41 Fri 04-Aug-17 19:44:32

Yes in the U.K.

user1497557435 Fri 04-Aug-17 20:34:50

Gtk as been told meds don't work on teens. Meanwhile child refusing school and cutting herself.

Florida41 Sat 05-Aug-17 12:09:44

Well my daughter is 99% better than she was and she was 14 when she started them and is now 16 . I don't like to think where we would be if she hadn't had them . At Christmas we will start to decrease them and see how she goes.
All cutting and making herself sick has stopped months and months ago (about 1year) I have got my fun loving daughter back . So yes they do work on teens .

user1497557435 Sat 05-Aug-17 12:32:17

I'll have to get more firm with GP. We're with private Clinical Psychologist atm which she doesn't like. If school refusal continues next term I'll have to get something for her.

Littlechocola Sat 05-Aug-17 12:37:48

Op, you have no idea how helpful this is. Thank you.
Can I ask about when your dd began to talk to you about it? Was she already getting help by then?
We are at the no communication stage which breaks my heart.

OhTheRoses Sat 05-Aug-17 12:44:13

DD was prescribed fluoxetine by private psychiatrist. GP's Won't prescribe without specialist input. DD was tier 3 and didn't meet CAMHS threshold. So in the UK she could have escalated and burgled towards tier 4 and once she'd dropped out and become very ill the NHS would then have spent several thousand on her rather than a couple on prevention and shared GP care.

It's a national scandal.

noego Sat 05-Aug-17 12:46:39

When she feels the need to self harm. Ask her to call Childline or Samaritans. They will talk to her until the feelings have dissipated.

OhTheRoses Sat 05-Aug-17 12:48:51

If only it were that simple noego.

Littlechocola Sat 05-Aug-17 12:49:58

Noego. And when they don't wish to speak to anyone?

noego Sat 05-Aug-17 13:05:25

I understand that they may not want to talk to anyone, but this may give them options to help them get through those moments when they feel the need to SH.

user1497557435 Sat 05-Aug-17 14:30:53

DD moved to upper school (we used to be 3 tier) & the change from middle to upper was a massive shock. I actually think she has ptsd as result of horrible experience at start of school year which I was aware of but the anxiety and panic attacks have become worse as the year went on - becoming really tricky at end of year exam time which is when we first approached GP who although sympathetic wasnt much practical help. She had a safe space to go to at school - trouble is some teachers are better than others (some are utterly hopeless) dealing with this type of issue.

She has always been willing to chat to me about how she is feeling but not necessarily what is causing the feelings - I think she's felt like this for so long she no longer knows for sure.

Found out about the SH from parent of a friend of hers (thank goodness). Straight bask to GP who referred to CAMHS - I had also been trying to get a private Clinical psychologist appt (not easy as they're so busy).

Had letter from CAMHS but nothing concrete yet.

I've no idea what tier 3 or 4 is?

Go with your instinct - I kept thinking it was teenage angst but sadly so much more.

FoodArtFreak Sat 05-Aug-17 14:40:58

I used to SH. When I stopped (grew out of it really) I had an elastic band round my wrist to ping and a red marker to draw the "blood" on

No idea if it's good or bad advice... obviously the reason for SH needs addressing with therapy and medication. But that's how I broke my addiction...

user1497557435 Sat 05-Aug-17 14:48:24

What made you start/stop?

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