Author Topic: Increasingly worried mum of self harming daughter  (Read 265 times)

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Offline mango123

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Increasingly worried mum of self harming daughter
« on: March 13, 2017, 10:27:14 AM »
Hi all,

I am new here, I havent sought advice on any forums before but feel like I need some support ! Our daughter started self harming very mildly about 18 months ago - a friend of hers at school introduced her to it and it started off with just one or 2 deep scratches on her ankle and in the crook of her elbow. I discovered the self harm after I had told her off  for  being nasty to her sister and rude to me, she came down and showed me her arm - I have to admit I was cross with her because it did feel like she was trying to punish me for telling her off , it did feel like manipulation at the time, however of course I know now that being cross was not the correct way to react. I feel so guilty for that ! Since then things have gradually got worse - her anxiety has snowballed leading to increasing periods of time where she is withdrawn, wanting to stay in her room - she also wont get involved in any activities, she doesnt have a hobby  and wont take part in anything outside of school. She has received support form the pastoral team at school, who have given her talking support - we ended up going to the gp because the self harm has continued and she hasnt been able to stop . This has resulted in a CAMHS referral where they assessed her and have approved her for treatment there for her anxiety- however we are waiting for the 1st appt for her treatment to start. She had stopped self harming for a couple of months but since the camhs assessment she has started again, and it seems worse than before now.... she is also fascinated by mental health, she wants to read about it and watch films about it endlessly.... she is identifying herself as a 'self harmer'... last week when I was washing her blazer I emptied the pockets and there was a piece of paper on which she had written 'My name is..... and I am a self harmer '. Our girl is very bright, she does well at school, but has always struggled with friendships - she has never been a 'naughty' child, apart from the odd moment of back chat ! Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed that she took some money from me, then I found a bottle of  liquid from an e cigarette, in her bag which belonged to my husband. This is so unlike her, she admitted to me that she had been taking the liquid and giving it to a friend at school, I told her that I was disappointed in her , that I couldnt just ignore stealing and that if she did it again there would have to be a consequence - she was very upset , started saying she was very very anxious - I did say that we all did silly things when we were her age , not to be hard on herself but just to never do it again ! The next day she told me she had been up all night with anxiety, she couldnt sleep, then I saw that she had obviously been self harming, with lots of fresh marks on her wrist (not deep but many )..... it makes me feel  sick ! and also like she is punishing us for something and I feel so so bad for even saying that ! I am extremely sad she feels like this, I feel helpless , I am trying so hard to keep cool, not react with horror or be too emotional - she is receiving lots of love and encouragement for good things she does. I just dont know what to do while we wait for our appointment ... has anyone got any suggestions ? many thanks xx

Offline Rob

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Re: Increasingly worried mum of self harming daughter
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2017, 01:21:41 PM »
 :welcome:

It can be incredibly hard for a parent to know how to react to finding that their child is self harming. Self harm is a coping mechanism, it can take many different forms and for a variety of issues, but from reading your post, it seems like you are going through the right steps to try and get the issue under control. I get the impression that anxiety could be a main contributor, and also feel as though there are some confidence/self esteem issues too - her reaction to disappointing you, her lack of friends and interests etc. Self harm is usually very private, though, and generally people don't advertise the fact that they self harm - unless she might trying to be noticed more? Continue encouraging your daughter to achieve without introducing pressure, to feel as though she has some control in her life and therefore good about herself as you are probably doing now will help until your appointment comes through. Some parents find that supporting their child best needs that they reign in a lot of visible emotion, and that's not easy, but the focus needs not to be that self harming is naughty or wrong, but that there are reasons that need to be addressed to take the urges in the first place, and some acceptance of 'minor' self harm until that point is reached, might help. There are alternatives 'distractions' that some people find helpful, and other information on this website: http://www.nshn.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=16069.0
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Offline mango123

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Re: Increasingly worried mum of self harming daughter
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2017, 03:09:05 PM »
Thank you so much for your reply- I feel guilty and then selfish for feeling guilty , because its my daughter that needs the help ...also its so hard to accept that the beautiful happy girl that we had seems to have disappeared somewhere , such a sad sad feeling and also somewhat frightening- I am starting to realise that I DO need to keep my own emotions in check and I am wondering if I am strong enough. I feel that we are heading down a rocky road of which I am so unsure of. How could this have happened ?? How did we even get to this point ?! But at least we have help on the way ... I want her to trust  us and for her to be open to some extent - so I am going to get all the info I can - I feel relieved to have found this forum and think it will help me to make sense of what our girl is going through.

Thanks again

Offline Lorien

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Re: Increasingly worried mum of self harming daughter
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 05:29:57 PM »
i would be mindful of the focus on severity of cuts etc. I appreciate that in this instance it may simply be in order to better describe what is going on, but often a focus on the number/depth/severity etc tells people - what you are doing isn't enough. Often self harm will escalate anyway, but it is worth being particularly mindful of how much focus there is on these things. While she is willing to show you and tell you about episodes of cutting, it might be worth talking with her about steps afterwards that she can take to help herself eg basic first aid etc. Then if she is willing and able to, discuss what was behind it. You might find the distraction list section of the site helpful in supporting her to explore ways to manage those feelings without hurting herself. Have you talked through what you would like her to do at times that she feels like hurting herself? A Psychiatrist I had once had a very good way of having a plan he'd prefer I followed, it certainly made it feel easier to explore alternatives.
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

“It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Offline mango123

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Re: Increasingly worried mum of self harming daughter
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2017, 01:26:13 PM »
Thank you Lorien for your reply - yes you are right , the severity isnt where the focus should be - however it is an indicator to me that there is a definite progression since it started so I think thats the point I was trying to make. I havent discussed that with my daughter of course, but I know what you are saying and I do think that she wants it to be 'enough'/ She has looked at other ways to respond to her anxious feelings, she has said that nothing is the same though and she is feeling like she can't stop turning to SH to release the bad feeling she has. She came downstairs a few days ago , very worried because she had been asked to start work again over the summer in a restaurant (she spent last summer there collecting glasses and she loved it)... she was panicked because of the marks on her arms (which at the moment are VERY noticeable). This opened up a conversation about caring for her cuts, and we agreed to get a 'kit' together which I keep and this means that I can kind of monitor  how she is doing as to whether the stuff inside had been taken. She also said she could let me know if she felt like she wanted to SH so that I could help her do something else, distract etc. She seemed so relieved that I didnt chastise her, I was without emotion and really relaxed about it all... she showed me her arms yesterday and after using bio oil for a few days they do look much better , I said 'well done for looking after them so well and there aren't any new ones on there so that's good news'... she gave me a look and then told me that she had just found somewhere else to do it out of sight. I asked why she felt that she couldnt tell me when she felt like doing it and she just shrugged. I was really calm, not cross or upset, suggested maybe she could send me a blank text as a signal next time ? She said that was a good idea and gave me a hug which was nice  , however I dont quite believe that she will let me help her distract herself from SH... I am terrified of doing the wrong thing, ignoring something that I shouldnt be ignoring or being over involved ! It's an absolute mine field !

Offline Lorien

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Re: Increasingly worried mum of self harming daughter
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2017, 02:52:30 PM »
It sounds like you're doing a good job of working out what and how she wants you to help. Everyone is different and I understand that, but have you talked with her about if she feels she could use the kit if you were keeping track of it? I do think it's a great idea but can be played wrong. My parents when they were told got a huge plastic box and filled it with plasters etc which must have cost a lot. But they hadn't considered that I wouldn't use it if it was a way of them tracking what I was doing, and the things in it weren't appropriate for what I was doing. It sounds like you have a much more open relationship for a start you know what she is doing well and she will talk to you which is great.  I just thought maybe talk about whether she'd use it is it was something you kept tabs on. She might, but it's probably better to know beforehand. 

I think the blank text is a great idea. In terms of being worried about how you manage things. I'd say go with what you think is right.  I wouldn't get too caught up in trying this strategy or that one,  if it's something you'd usually challenge then challenge it, if you'd let it go then do that. I guess less 'what should I be doing because she is cutting ' and more 'what would I be doing if she wasn't cutting '

“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

“It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”