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Suspect my 14 yo son is self harming

(12 Posts)
SecondMouseGetsTheCheese Fri 12-May-17 18:02:45

Really upset but in the middle of family and can't deal with issue right now. D'S turned 14 a month ago, he's very bright (maths science type stuff, but no common sense), struggles to make friends, has been bullied on and off, and also has to deal with family stuff including a sibling with pmld (profound/multiple learning disabilities). Noticed a load of deep scratches on his right forearm a couple of weeks ago, not what I would call 'cuts' but not completely superficial, iykwim. Brought up in conversation 'oo, that looks sore, what happened there?' kind of way, he said it was the cat, which neither I nor DH believed as scratches from cat (which do happen occasionally, this is the real world and she's old and grumpy) are usually straight parallel lines, while these were curvy, almost more like doodles.
DH and I discussed how he is generally at the moment, and both feel he's happier and generally more relaxed than he was a year ago (we were moving house, having building work done etc) so maybe it was a one off or we're reading something into the situation and we shouldn't jump to conclusions.
His sister has just come downstairs asking if he's been dismantling pencil sharpener, he said no, what are you talking about. She's handed me the blade bit from a sharpener or disposable razor, telling me it was on their bathroom floor (upstairs bathroom that only she and he use).
Now thinking that was what he used, and maybe he's still doing it as the blade wouldn't have been on the floor there that whole time.

blimppy Fri 12-May-17 20:43:58

Hi. My DD used to self harm and pencil sharpener blades were her weapon of choice. Doesn't mean he is, but I suspect you are right to be concerned. I'm not sure how you should approach this really, as every kid is of course different. For what it is worth, I learnt the hard way that you need to be very matter of fact with kids who self harm - try not to show shock of any kind, and deal practically with any wounds. Make sure they are clean and cared for etc. I hope he, and you, is okay.

Pimpernella Fri 12-May-17 20:59:34

I posted a thread like this about my 13 year old son last year. I got no replies so didn't want to not answer.
I was devastated. I waited a day or two to think things through and waited for a good time.
I took him out and just asked him about it. He made an excuse. I looked at him and asked him if that was true and he cried and told me about it. We talked about why he did it. He couldn't tell me. I asked him to tell me next time he wants to do it or has done it and I promised not to tell him off or get upset but would help him keep the cuts clean. I don't think he ever did it again but I make sure I have a chat about how he is feeling and if he has felt like cutting himself every now and then.
I know it's only one senario but I know how you must be feeling and hope my story might make you feel a bit better.

Florida41 Fri 12-May-17 21:24:42

My daughter also use to selfharm and also would dismantle pencil sharpeners and also disposable razors .
To start with I removed all things like the razors/ pencil sharpeners etc .from her room and hid them
But after a while after the enitional shock and CAMHS I relized that if she was that desperate to cut then she could use anything , a broken ruler can be sharp, a tin lid out the bin, a knife so I had to accept that I could not stop her doing it .
I found it sooo hard when I found out as I never thought there was anything wrong at all, it was such a shock, she seemed happy just a normal hormonal teenager or so I thought .
.blimppy is right don't show shocked or disappointment. Try not to fire too many questions , as my daughter just use to clam up,.but listen
As soon as I found out we were at the Drs within the hour and then referred to CAMHS.
The cutting slowed down but she then started making herself sick after every meal .
She has Now been on medication for 14 months and I have my 15 girl back. Putting her on medication was not an easy choice but I could not go on watching her destroy herself .
She is now doing her GCSEs and doing well , I never thought I would see the light at the end of the tunnel.
She was very good at hiding everything , long sleeved jumpers etc .
But she was really crying out for help inside , she was quiet depressed due to boys at school (bullying) going through tough time with her dad , and I think just growing up in general was just a struggle.
Please tackle your son but not with too much pressure.
But he may need proper help , they don't self harm for no reason .
CAMHS also told me to put any medication away (locked up) just in case . I bought a cheap safe and put all our tablets (paracetamol etc) in the house in it . I don't want to scare you but it's not worth the risk .
Please listen to your son. But please don't ignore what you think is going on as you are probably right , get him some help .

JustDanceAddict Sat 13-May-17 08:54:53

I would go to GP. As soon as DD told me she even thought about self-harming we were at the Drs. Good luck.

EmeraldIsle100 Sat 13-May-17 09:06:34

The poor thing, he must be in a lot of pain. I found out that my DD was self harming and we saw her doctor which led to her being hospialised. I was bewildered by the self harming but now know its done to get relief from mental suffering.

He needs to see his GP who will help him. You are fortunate that you found out now. Bless him, I hope he gets help. I hope you are ok, its shocking but at least you know now that he is not well. Thinking about you!

Helper658 Sat 13-May-17 09:24:14

I could have written your post last year. We saw scratches on dd (13yrs) arm, she told us it was the cat. We asked again, she cried and admitted she was cutting herself. In our case she had taken a sharp knife from the kitchen and hidden it in her bedroom.

She got support initially from a weekly appointment with the school counsellor (we contacted the school and spoke to the head of year who was very supportive) which went on for 4 months. Then we saw a doctor with her (unrelated, an ongoing medical problem) and I mentioned to the doctor about her self harming. The doctor suggested we should seek some more formal support for dd. We took her to a child psychiatrist (very fortunately we have private health insurance) and she diagnosed depression and anxiety. Dd has been having CBT for 6 months now. Dd would say it hasn't helped immensely - she rejects the notion that she can fix herself and wants someone to 'fix' her but actually she is calmer, more self aware and has formed some solid friendships which she was struggling to do before so I think it actually has helped.

We were absolutely devastated when we first found out. Lots of tears and upset behind the scenes (although we always presented dd with a calm non-judgemental front). We had a telephone consultation with a counsellor at which is a charity supporting mental health for children and adolescents, they have pages about supporting parents too and the counsellor was great.

Just to reassure you, we are a year on from where you are and things are much, much brighter. Try not to over react (that was SOOOoooo hard) but do take it seriously and if possible find your son some support. I really feel for you. Huge, huge hugs to you all.

ASauvingnonADay Sat 13-May-17 09:31:10

Definitely go to your GP, and also speak to the school. They will be able to signpost to best services in your area. Let him know you are there to talk to him, and maybe work out if there is anyone else he can open up to/trusts.

SecondMouseGetsTheCheese Sat 13-May-17 11:42:39

Thank you so much for all your advice - it means a great deal that you've taken time to share your experiences and I now feel much less alone! We've decided we are going to talk to his head of house next week and ask if he can see the school counsellor (though I expect she's v busy with year 11s bearing in mind how close exams are), and will sit with him later today and tell him that's what we are going to do, because we believe he needs the support. I fully expect him to deny it but will also tell him that gauze, savlon etc are in his bathroom for him to use as and when necessary, because any cuts need to be kept clean, and that I or his dad will help him with no judgement or upset if he does do it again. I don't honestly think there's any point in trying to hide sharp things because he could just go and buy others (no age limit to buy a pencil sharpener after all!), but have moved all the ordinary family meds - paracetamol etc - into the locked meds cabinet that his brothers medications (which include controlled drugs) are stored in, just in case. He's not a talker iykwim so don't want to put him on the spot asking questions that he might not really be able to answer ('why did you do it? For example), so not sure about taking him to the gp - think he'd just go silent if confronted, specially by someone he doesn't know, and don't want him to feel more pressured. He has a short sleeved t-shirt on today, and there are no new marks on his arms, so I'm trying to look at that as a positive though I know he might be cutting himself somewhere else.
Thanks again, every one of you.

Florida41 Sat 13-May-17 12:07:27

Big hugs to u .
My daughter could not explained why she was doing it , and proberly could not even tell me now me , don't even think she knows herself why.
When I would ask why , She just use to go silent.
There are many places they can cut , my daughter has done it on arms top and bottom and legs thighs, but when she knew ,I knew and was looking out for it , she done it on her stomach once but I saw it , so she did not do it again there.
Some cuts where more light scratches and healed up in a few days other where a little deaper but not bad enough for hospital or stitches . Just a plaster .
I'm glad you have put away the family meds as you need to be safe.
When I see her scars it makes me so sad but it's part of her and it's just part of her journey through life .
She is a lot more open with me now and tells me if she feels she is struggling at all .
I hope your son gets all the help he needs .

EmeraldIsle100 Sun 14-May-17 00:02:04

You sound like loving supportive parents. He is a lucky boy. You are definitely not alone, this is frighteningly common. Take care of yourself flowers

EmeraldIsle100 Sun 14-May-17 00:18:35

My DD told me that she cant handle what's going on in her head, she is frightened by intrusive thoughts and causing harm to herself brings her relief her from her thoughts. The relief is temporary and then she hates herself for doing it.

She is getting help and is actually harming herself less.

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