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Teenage son - self-harming

(26 Posts)
snoodle1 Tue 29-May-18 11:04:12

It has come to light that my 15 year old son has been self-harming. He tried to hide it from us but my sister saw his arms once and told us. Then when I thought about it I realised I hadn't seen his bare arms for a long time... We asked him about it and he told us he has been doing it for a year. Some of the cuts on his arm are quite deep and have caused scarring. He says he doesn't know why he does it but feel compelled to and has tried to stop but says he can't. I asked him if he would be willing to talk to someone about it and he has agreed so I have booked him to see a therapist (privately - ouch) who has had experience working in CAMHS and with working with teenagers who self-harm. We (me and my husband) have treated him gently about it, haven't insisted he stop right away (because I know it isn't that easy) but I am finding it hard not to be emotional about it. I just want to beg him to stop. He seems happy in general so it is difficult to understand. He has Aperger's (mild) and I think it could be the frustrations that come with that. Does anyone have any advice or has anyone been through something similar

blimppy Tue 29-May-18 13:18:03

Hi, my DD is 18 now but at 15 we discovered she was self harming. She too has (mild) Aspergers, although in her case it has been diagnosed since then. She went through a very difficult few years but has not self harmed for the last 2. It seems to me that your reaction has been brilliant and spot on - keeping calm and offering support. He's lucky to have you. Hopefully the therapist will help too. We also went private (CAMHS were useless), and DD is still seeing her therapist (although she did stop for a while). It costs a fortune but if you DS develops a good rapport with the therapist it can be really good. Good luck.

snoodle1 Tue 29-May-18 13:37:30

Thank you so much, blimppy, that 's very reassuring. I hope the therapy will work for my son too and I don't care about the cost - I just want him to get better. I am calm towards him but I don't feel at all calm about it in myself. I guess you went through the same thing. I'm glad your daughter is doing well.

chocolateworshipper Sat 02-Jun-18 21:50:09

Another one here with a teen who self-harmed at 15. 18 now and in a much better place. We also gave up with CAMHS and went private - I genuinely don't believe she'd still be here if we hadn't.

snoodle1 Sun 03-Jun-18 09:34:23

Thanks chocolateworshipper (great name by the way!). I am feeling a little more hopeful now. The hardest thing for me is not to keep wanting to ask him about it. The long sleeves in this hot weather is a constant reminder. He starts therapy next week so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. He seems really happy at the moment maybe because he’s had a break from school.

chocolateworshipper Sun 03-Jun-18 20:15:52

That's great news that he's starting therapy. If he's happier with a break from school, it might be worth thinking about what might help him cope with school (unless it's just a rest he needs). One thing that helped DD - she was given a card at school that she could use if she ever felt she couldn't cope. She would just show it to the teacher and it gave her instant approval to leave the lesson with no explanation. There were 2 adults in the school that she trusted and she could go to one of them at any point (even if they were teaching - she just felt safe being in the room with them).

Blogwoman Mon 04-Jun-18 09:07:05

I hear you OP. flowers for everyone with experience of this - so hard. We are waiting for CAMHS referral - and waiting...but also looking into finding a therapist privately, so I'm interested to hear that you've all gone down this route (shame CAMHS provision in such short supply...). May I ask what sort of therapist you looked for and how you found/chose one? I feel like I don't know where to start. I don't want to hijack your thread OP, so I hope it's ok to ask.

snoodle1 Mon 04-Jun-18 09:57:45

Hi, yes of course it's fine to ask and I'm happy for anyone to use this thread for discussing this issue. I found her in the Counselling Directory (online) and I looked for someone that had experience in working with young people. The one I found had previously worked for CAMHS and seems to have a lot of experience. You can also try the BACP website for a list of their accredited or registered counsellors. Good luck. Let me know how you get on.

Blogwoman Mon 04-Jun-18 10:42:34

Thanks OP. Keep us up with how things go with you and your DS too. Be kind to yourself...

Lilymoth Fri 08-Jun-18 18:55:27

Hi snoodle1- I am not someone that ever participates in online discussions but I found myself desperately looking for someone going through a similar experience to myself when I read this thread... I find the self harm urge difficult to understand and have even more difficulty in ensuring I give DS the space he needs to deal with his feelings. I am really trying though, as I know this is the right approach .... I really admire the way you are coping and dealing positively with the problem. I only recently discovered DS’s self harm - he opened up when going through serious gcse anxiety (although I think there are underlying issues rather than just exams).. He is seeing a psychologist and I am also trying to get her advice on how to deal with this myself.... He’s still got virtually 2 weeks of exams to go - dropping him at school each day is a very emotional experience for both of us... The school have been supportive and he’s getting through by using a lot of elastic bands on his arms to help calm the urge... I send you all best wishes for success with your counselling. If you find any specific type of therapy successful or a particularly effective way of dealing with this yourself, please share... I will do likewise. I think I’m in this for the long run as DS is already worrying about results day before he’s even sat half of his exams....

chocolateworshipper Fri 08-Jun-18 19:44:24

Welcome Lily

It would be nice if we could all support each other. I hope it may offer others hope to know that it's been about 3 years since DD self-harmed. She's just finished college. As she did BTECs, we already know her results - she did really well, which means that doing less well in her GCSEs (because of the self-harm which then led to PTSD) really doesn't matter now. We were so lucky to find an excellent psychiatrist and an exceptional therapist (one of the few who would work with a child).

I was very close to a breakdown afterwards - I barely slept as I was hyper-alert listening out for any movement from her, and I barely ate. I think my body was flooded with chemicals that allowed me to survive in a state of "fight or flight" and it did a lot of damage. I wish I could have found a way to look after myself a bit more and been more active in seeking support for myself.

Best wishes to all of you.

paddingtonbear1 Fri 08-Jun-18 20:34:42

Hi, we also recently discovered that dd (14) had started self harming. She was also having suicidal thoughts. School referred us to our local hospital, where there is a mental health unit for young people. Her first counselling session there is next week, we hope this will help but if not we will look into private. One of the pastoral team at school has been very good, dd trusts her and opens up to her more than she's felt able to with us. Like your dd chocolateworshipper she has now been given a card to use at school, plus there are a couple of subjects where she is given the work without having go to the lesson. We live too far to walk to school but she hated using the bus,and we can't always drive her so I bought her another bike and worked out a safer route to cycle. Dh and I work in IT and so far have managed to work at home so dd isn't alone after school. Our families don't know anything, dd didn't want us to tell them.

chocolateworshipper Fri 08-Jun-18 20:39:47

Very sorry to hear that paddington We only told a couple of family members, but it can be isolating, so I hope there is someone you can talk to. It's good to hear she has someone at school she trusts.

Lilymoth Fri 08-Jun-18 20:53:13

chocolateworshipper - many, many congratulations to your dd - it’s so reassuring to hear that life can get back on track and I really hope you are now in a better place... I am in a similar state of constant worry and can’t shake off -probably irrational - feelings of guilt... paddingtonbear1 - I am also unable to confide in my close family or friends but it’s really helpful to realise that I’m not the only mum going through this and that things definitely can - and hopefully will - get better.

snoodle1 Sat 09-Jun-18 16:36:36

Dear Lilymoth. I'm glad you have joined the thread and I agree with chocolatewoshipper that it would be nice if we can all support one another. I know what you mean about feelings of guilt. I keep thinking of things I could have done differently or wondering if there is something I don't know about that he is not telling me. I also am unable to confide in family members, other than my husband, who seems very laid back about it. I too find self harming very difficult to relate to and I had always previously been under the impression that only really damaged kids do it. However, more and more I am now realising that this is not the case but I still find myself searching for reasons why.

sparkler10 Sat 09-Jun-18 21:08:51

I’ve recently discovered my DS17 has started to self harm. He refuses any attempts to help him, won’t talk, point blank refuses to go to GP or consider counselling. To make things worse, he escapes to stay with his Dad, with whom I have a very acrimonious relationship. Dad knows but I don’t know if he’s talked to DS about it. I suspect not. I’m trying so hard to not focus on how I’m feeling, I’m devestated for him that he feels like he does but just don’t know what to do for the best. The harder I try, it drives him further away.

Guiltypleasures001 Sat 09-Jun-18 21:32:19

Hi op

Sorry your ds is going through this

As an aside, ide strongly suggest making sure he cleans whatever cutting blade he uses, and provide him with antiseptic wipes etc.

The counsellor may tell him this anyway, but he needs to understand the danger of sepsis etc 💐

chocolateworshipper Sat 09-Jun-18 21:44:23

I'm so sorry sparkler Is he at school / college? If so, have you told them?

I hope you have someone in real life you can talk to, but we're here for you anyway

chocolateworshipper Tue 12-Jun-18 05:55:26

So we have found out that DD2 is self-harming. I am heart-broken and feeling like I must be the worst Mum ever. I've been awake since 4.

snoodle1 Tue 12-Jun-18 09:37:21

Oh chocolateworshipper. We always blame ourselves as mothers but you need some self-compassion at a time like this so do be kind to yourself. DD1 got through it so DD2 will too. What age is she?

chocolateworshipper Tue 12-Jun-18 17:53:09

Thank you so muchsnoodle - you make a very good point.
She's 15 - same age as your DS

snoodle1 Wed 13-Jun-18 08:39:09

15 seems like it must be a difficult age. DS had his first therapy session earlier this week and as it was an assessment I was present (although I won't be for future sessions). It went will in that he opened up to her and agreed to continue but I learned that his self harming is even worse than I thought so I had to really try and hide my upset. Will your DD2 go for therapy?

chocolateworshipper Wed 13-Jun-18 16:08:10

Yes we've found a private therapist who will see children (a lot of them won't), but she's on holiday this week, so we'll start when she gets back. We've put some things in place - she's doing mindfulness colouring, I've found her a tutor for a subject that she's worrying about and that I can't help her with, and we've agreed on the subjects that I will help her with. She's hates Geography and we've agreed that as long as she behaves in class and does her homework, she doesn't need to worry about that exam at all.

snoodle1 Thu 14-Jun-18 08:44:00

It sounds like you're doing all the right things*chocolateworshipper*. Sometimes some good old practical help can really make a difference. It is such a shame that exams cause kids so much stress these days. Geography - Bah! It's not worth it. My DS is doing Geography too but it doesn't seem to be school work he's stressed about - just life and people in general, which makes it a little harder to help with. Hopefully the therapy will help him and your DD2 as well.

paddingtonbear1 Thu 14-Jun-18 22:01:29

Sorry to hear about your dd2 chocolateworshipper
Dd has been a bit better this week. We went to the hospital on Tuesday where they said they might get her assessed for autism/adhd. She doesn't have the classic symptoms but it can present differently in girls, I have been reading online. She has often felt that she doesn't 'fit in' and has concentration issues.
I have also been feeling guilty, I should have realised sooner and done more to help..

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