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My 16 year old daughter is self harming
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An_251917 posted:
Hi everyone! I'm new on here. I have recently found out that my 16 year old daughter has been self harming since freshman year. She had told me that she has anxiety and depression. We talked to her pediatrician and he gave her some self help technics and told her she could always talk to him. I had issues growing up so I just chalked it up to normal teenage issues. The other day I noticed some cuts on her ankle and asked her about them...she didn't have a very good story so I put 2 and 2 together then she admitted to it. I am in the process of finding a psycologist for her (if they would return my call I would take her right this minute) but until then I have no idea what to do for her...I'm so afraid that she will take this farther. She will not talk about anything to do with her life/feelings, other than gossip about her friends to me and she never has. I have read that it's an emotional outlet and can be addicting like drugs. Any information or advice I could get would be appreciated so much!!
Thank you!!
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DOGDANCING_TCOS responded:
Welcome to the board Mama, glad you found us.

You're on the right path, you saw the doctor, you are seeking counselling for her. You are helping her immensely by your actions.

this is some info that might help.


* * TRIGGER * *

A bit more info on Self inflicted Violence (SIV) for those interested.

Intense emotional pain is hard to deal with. You can't see it, you can't put a bandage on it, you can't fully explain it to anyone else. The pain is personal and well, excruciating. Some people have learned not to show pain, or lack the ability to effectively communicate pain.

When the tension builds internally to a point that feels like..."I'm going to explode, I am going to go insane" people who self injure...injure themselves. This act does many things...says many things....

1. It transfers the pain to the surface, where you CAN see it, you CAN heal it. You can't bandage the soul, but you can bandage your arm.

2. The blood speaks volumes as to the internal pain. Think of the cut as a red mouth screaming the pain. (this maybe the only way a person can express the discomfort they are in).

3. The act itself will literally cut the tension one is feeling. You are left with a calmness, a dissociating "high", you feel back in control now that the energy is released. This fact makes SIV a very addicting act. You are positively reinforced each time you injure.

SIV is very alarming/disturbing to people who don't do it. What you need to know about us is this. We are not trying to kill ourselves with the injuring...think of it more as self medicating.

SIV does not = suicide attempt. Suicide is an another category all by its self. Suicide = taking action to ends ones life, while SIV = taking action to ease internal pressure, so one can keep on functioning.

It is in fact often used to stop one from reaching that point of seeking fatal means to cope. The number one most common denominator to SIV is a history of sexual abuse...we are talking about deep deep issues that need a professional touch here, the healing journey is a hard one. Deep issues must be faced, a commitment to healing and working towards learning and using healthy coping skills must be there.

One doesn't have to have any abuse in there background to learn SIV as coping skill., it works just as well no matter the reason behind it. SIV is about control too...controlling ones emotions and feelings and destiny.

Cutting can give a sense of control. I CONTROL WHEN AND WHERE I FEEL THE PAIN.

We are NOT crazy for injuring ourselves. We are just in pain, and have lost the ability to communicate any other way.

Think of it this way...the SIV is a fever. Its a symptom of a deeper infection that needs to cleared up before the fever goes away. You would never tell a sick person...just stop having a fever. We do medicate the fever away, but does the cure the infection? nope. There is deeper work we need to do.


Things that are not helpful...

1. giving ultimatums You may not cut. I won't be your friend if you injure yourself.

2. "Stop it for me." "promise me you won't cut for me" - We need to stop for ourselves.

3. "just don't cut" - if it were that simple don't you think we would do it?

4. Non injuring contracts. SIV is a coping mechanism. It may very well be there ONLY coping skill. Until there is a new skill learned-practiced-implemented, the SIV will continue. (We don't ask babies to be born and get up and walk the same day. they learn to use there muscles first, roll over, crawl, stand, then walk. it is a slow gradual process.)

Re-learning/learning healthy coping skills is hard work. It is not an overnight process, expect the SIV to continue as we work in therapy. In the cases of past trauma, it might actually increase as the past is dealt with.

peace be the journey

Paja
I'm not really a psychopath, I just play one on the internet.
 
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sittingbull594 replied to DOGDANCING_TCOS's response:
paja always gives this great self help tips info! It is very addicting tho it doesn't sstart out that way.

selfhelp.com is a helpful website not only for the person who is doing it but also for the person (you) who is suffering with the self harming person. Sh= self harm SIV also its referred to and SI self injury

if you type into your search engine selfhelp it should come up.

I'm sorry you and your daughter are going thru this. Definitely get her into counceling asap. As Paja said I echo this... You are doing everything that you can to help your daughter. God speed and welcome to the community.
 
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sslpate replied to sittingbull594's response:
Thank you guys so much for the information and advice! I really appreciate it and it has been very helpful.

I called the psychologists office again yesterday and they took my insurance information and said it would be within a week for the Dr. to call me back for an appt. I am trying to make it seem like this is no big deal to her but I am also keeping her up to date with the progress of the Dr. appt. so she knows I have not forgotten about it. I did notice another set of cuts by the original ones I saw. I keep trying to look without her knowing. I have so many questions for her that I don't ask because she won't answer them anyway.

Again thank you for the information the help sites make it a little easier to understand what's going on with her.
 
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DOGDANCING_TCOS replied to sslpate's response:
She also may not be able to tell you what is going on because she may not even know herself.

A lot of us sorta stumble on SI and once we learn it works in a mysterious way to stop pain, continue to use it.

Then we are at a loss to explain how causing pain makes us not feel pain.

She doesn't need you acting weird around her, or altering the house hold routine (like locking up all the sharp knives).

What she needs is your arms to hold her if she would like a hug. Your attention (your giving that by getting her help).

You are doing the right thing.

I want to tell you something and I want you to stop for a second and breath. This is going to be hard to hear.

Breath.

ready?

You didn't cause this. This is not your fault.

Let go of that wanting/need to internalize this and make it your fault.

There really is no one to blame here. (unless there is abuse involved).

Its hard for parents sometimes because the normal reaction is to be angry at the person cutting your child...but what do you do when they are one in the same.

Take care of yourself in all this too.

What kind of questions would you ask her? Voicing them here might get you some feedback and insight.

peace be the journey
I'm not really a psychopath, I just play one on the internet.
 
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sittingbull594 replied to DOGDANCING_TCOS's response:
Hi again. I'm really sorry for what is happening in your lives!
It's a hard thing to understand that is for sure!!

Even tho I have done sh since I was a child it did not get extreme till I was in my 30's.

I'm so happy for you that you have found this out at most likely the early stages. Time will tell. This behavior is definitely more prevelant among teenage years.

I couldn't agree more..... It's not your fault! We do the best we can as a parent. My kids never have sh'd and i'm the one with the problem. Tho I have worked on this really hard and it's getting some better.

Take care and have a good day.
 
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sslpate replied to DOGDANCING_TCOS's response:
I didn't mention anywhere that I thought I had caused this...How did you know??? ) Thank you for that, it was needed!! It was like getting a hug from you.

I never got mad at her for this I was/am in shock and incredibly sad about it. When she tried to run out of the room I yelled at her to not leave the room, I told her dad what she's doing, there was some conversation/questions I said I will be finding a therapist Monday morning, I gave her a hug told her to sit down and finish her TV show and dropped it. I don't want to make her anymore uncomfortable about it than she is. She won't tell me anything anyway so I don't ask.


I invaded her privacy...yesterday I found a book that she uses for drawing and noticed she has started writing in it so of course I read it, I know bad mama!! Anyway, I knew she had anxiety and depression but I had no idea it was this bad. Her boyfriend of 3 months knows she does the SI and asked her to stop for him....which she tried and obviously can't do. She also wrote a few times about slitting her wrist. She is so willing to go to counseling I'm hoping she is ready to stop and will do whatever it takes. I just want her to open up and TALK to someone. She is so good at hiding this pain, she is bubbly and funny a lot of the time and then tired which is probably the depression.


I have not altered the day to day living at all, I don't do any more or any less than I ever have or act weird. This girl is pretty much waited on hand and foot and gets everything she ever wants and gets to go where ever she wants. Our house is open for her friends whenever she wants, she is very rarely ever told no for anything. She is definitely spoiled, she is an only child. But our household is not a happy one, I'm sure I'm over compensating for her.


My questions for her would be:
Did someone abuse you


WHY - which I know she has no answer


Does she want to commit suicide


What can I do - I know nothing except be there..


Why did this start...what happened


Who told you about it - I don't know why I want to know that except maybe have someone to blame


Does our problems at home make this worse


What happens when you do this - she wrote it numbs the emotions


Is this why you act out sexually

I'm sure the answers to these questions would lead to more questions, what a vicious cycle.

Thank you again...you guys are so kind to help me when you have your own problems. I guess everyone has problems... I just really appreciate being able to express my feeling/concerns with someone who's been there. Although I am really sorry that anyone has "been there"!!


Hugs to you!!







 
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off_the_wall replied to sslpate's response:
Yep, everyone has problems and everyone handles their problems differently, some probably better than others. You said there are problems in the home--- that in itself when combined with mental illness could be enough to make her feel like this is the only way she can handle things. That doesn't make this your fault at all--- it simply means she needs to learn a better set of coping skills in order to deal with things. That is great that she willing to go to therapy because a therapist could help her to learn more positive coping skills.

I think you are doing the right thing by not being overbearing with your questions for her. I also don't think your question of "What can I do to help?" would hurt to ask and if she says, "Nothing" then just let her know you are always here for her if she needs to talk. It could be that she is too embarrassed to discuss it or, like Paja said, she isn't even sure why she is doing this or she can't find the words to describe what's going on with her. I just think the most important thing is to let her know that you are there for her. Also, if I were you I wouldn't tell her you read her private notes and I wouldn't snoop anymore because those things don't build trust.

Anyway, I'm so sorry. I have been cutting myself since I was 12 years old and am 32 now so 20 years of it and yet if one of my daughters started I know I would be devastated. It might help for you to meet with a therapist as well just to have someone to talk to about what YOU are dealing with in all of this. You're a good mama for caring and being there unconditionally for your daughter.
 
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TheSullenGirl responded:
I remember telling my parents that I SH. They swept it under the rug. It is touching that you want to help her so much.

Support is the best. I wished my mother would have noticed that I was depressed and would have told me that she was willing to talk to me.

If it's easier for her...let her know that she can always write you a letter about how she is feeling. I always felt that writing my feelings out was easier and that I didn't have to look at the person. Maybe start of communication journal....it might help.

Great start on finding her help.
"We make choices. No one else can live our lives for us. And we must confront and accept the consequences of our actions." -Neil Gaiman (The Sandman)
 
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sslpate replied to off_the_wall's response:
Thank you!! NO I will not be telling her I read any of that book. For my own sanity I just wanted some insight on what she's feeling, which I did get and I'm mostly glad I did but I'm also sorry I did. The Dr's finally called and we have that starting soon. The first meeting is with me alone. She's nervous but wants to go.

I don't know if it's just me but she doesn't seem to be as "tired" all the time now and she seems happier...

Can this be cured or do you just learn how to live with it?
 
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sslpate replied to TheSullenGirl's response:
Thank you!! I just want her to not feel that pain. I have told her to write/text me but she wouldn't even do that. I told her that whenever she wanted me to know anything to write it down and put it under my pillow and I would answer and put it under her pillow but she didn't. I think I will start the communication journal...I like that idea. Thanks Hopefully she will respond.

If your mother would of said she was willing to talk to you would you have talked to her...my daughter won't I have tried and tried and tried. I even told her if you won't talk to me find someone to talk to, a friend, one of her many aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents....anyone, but she didn't.


I have an appt. with the counselor next Friday then she will start after that...I hope that's our first step to a happier girl


Thank you so much for your help!!


~HUGS~
 
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rugger1369 replied to sslpate's response:
Ive been away for a while, but I really appreciate you sharing your story. you are doing all the right things. stay supportive. it will change her world. it wont be immediate, but it will.

There is some exceeltn advice on this thread and I want to thank everyone for sharing.

And I, like SullenGirl told my parents, my sister and I both go through this struggle and they ignored it. As if it werent real. Now as an adult I have been lucky enough to find this forum. You are so strong and wonderful, that will pass on to your daughter.

Thank you for sharing and I wish you, your daughter and anyone else effected the very best in this journey of becoming healthy and happy. much love
 
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DOGDANCING_TCOS replied to sslpate's response:


Dear Mom,

I have been thinking about your questions, and wanted to answer them.

Did someone abuse you


There are only two answers to this one. Or so I thought. But truth be told I don't know, its a grey area for me, I'm not sure if what happened to me is "abuse" like you see depicted on TV...I will need to hash this one out with my therapist to sort out the answer. But I can tell you this...the feeling sits heavy in my soul.


WHY - which I know she has no answer


Mom, everything in my life right now is one large swirling WHY hurricane. I am being bombarded with so much life right now I can't comprehend it all. I am closing in on adulthood and I don't know what it is going to be like to step into that vast unknown. I am no longer a child, yet I feel a strange tugging of an anchor that has yet to be let loose from that direction. Life right now has so many open doors for me to step though, but I can't seem to get me to step through.


I know its okay. That this is want growing up is...but I feel like a new foal trying to gallop on knobbly knees and new legs. I'm sacred of falling mom, and equally scared of heading out.


Does she want to commit suicide


no mom. I am just trying to catch my breath and for a second feel nothing. I want..no need the world to just stop for a second. Its like some crazy ride that I can't get off. I want it all to stop just ...just so I can...be still. There is just so much right now. I just need the pain to stop for a minute and let me rest. Just one second of screaming from my skin and crying red tears vs screaming from my mouth.


What can I do - I know nothing except be there..


Mom , this isn't what you want to hear. But I have to tell you. You are not qualified to help me in this area. This isn't something you are trained to do. You can't kiss this better.


You are helping me the only way you can right now. Appointment with medical doctor for a well child check up, and appt with a councilor. All good thing mom.


The best thing you have done so far is: spoke up. You confronted me and DID something. I may be miffed of perturbed you did this right now, but now in your heart that in the future I will come across many others who's mama's did nothing, and I will be SO THANKFUL that you spoke up, and got me help.


What you can do to help me as we move forward is, to listen to me. Allow me to choose the therapist who will treat me. Sometimes it can be trial and error as I will need to find someone I can connect to. I will need to learn to trust this person and let them in. So its important we connect.


Why did this start...what happened


It started long before you think mom. I have been feeling this way for a while. I just don't have the words to express it. I didn't know what I was filling wasn't normal. This is just how it is in my head/heart.


When I first cut, it was like a rush of fresh air whooshing in and calming me. The blood welling up and crying those warm read tears, just felt so right.


I need help because this feels so right, how can it be so wrong? It will be years before I realize that I am having to cut more and more to get the same results By them I will be so addicted to the act that I will simply not have the desire/strength to change.


Right now it feels like I am cutting my self free. I need help to see that what is really going on is that I am cutting myself off.
Off from myself, off from others, off from communication, off from my feelings. Off from it all.


Help me fight to stay connected.


Who told you about it - I don't know why I want to know that except maybe have someone to blame


Mom there is no one to blame here. People self injure, animals self injure, babies self injure...mom YOU self injure.
I just reached a point that there was soooo much in my head/heart/soul I had to let it out. All the turmoil boiled to a point it needed out, screaming and crying were no longer working. I just simply had to scream with my skin.


(continued)


I'm not really a psychopath, I just play one on the internet.
 
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DOGDANCING_TCOS replied to DOGDANCING_TCOS's response:
( triggery conversation)

Continued:


Does our problems at home make this worse

Yes. YES. But I am a drifter in your life, my time of living with you will soon be over. When I am gone you will be left with what exists at home. I worry about that. Don't you deserve a life too? Mom, I an't be your main focus in life, Enrich your own life as we all grow and change with life. I need you to be healthy and well too.


What happens when you do this - she wrote it numbs the emotions


I dissociate. Like a daydream feeling only 100% more in depth. Its like I have shed my skin and stepped out. Its like my soul vents though the cut and leave me a limp empty balloon. And I can breath again. Its like a cool rag on my feverish forehead, like a get out of jail free card. Its like having a magical key that stops the world so I can get off.


I can't see the danger in this unhealthy coping skill at the moment mom. All I know is that I feel better when I do it. It will be years and years before I realize I am so far from my core that I can no longer find my way back. I will struggle to go one day with out injuring. I will struggle to find a scar free area on my body to cut. I will be struggling to find the words to explain to my children why I have all these scars. I will be thankful you stepped in and got me help.
[br>[br>Is this why you act out sexually


See your first question mom. Sometimes, things get messed up in life. Abuse to me = violent intent...maybe what happened to me wasn't rape, but something so subtle that I don't even know it affected me. But my body remembers and knows.


Mom, you have to protect me. Do not allow me to be unsupervised with my guy friends. Boys don't come in my room. My body may be ready to handle being sexually active, but my head and heart are not. Set firm boundaries and help me learn.


Thank you Mom for caring enough about me to tackle this subject you don't feel comfortable with. Thank you for reaching out and learning about this form other self injuries. Thank you for your action vs just telling me to stop.


Love,


Your daughter.
I'm not really a psychopath, I just play one on the internet.
 
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DOGDANCING_TCOS replied to DOGDANCING_TCOS's response:
oh, and PS mom....

It was no accident you saw the cuts. I just didn't know how to bring up the subject and ask for help. I am very grateful you didn't turn away. Thank you for seeing me mom. Oh thank you so much for seeing me.

Your daughter.
I'm not really a psychopath, I just play one on the internet.


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