DD has been cutting - how do we help her?

(44 Posts)
WorriedTeenMum Fri 01-Feb-13 00:00:40

DD(13) came to me this evening and showed me that she has been cutting her legs. Many, many cuts. None of them looked particularly deep but there was just so many of them. DD said it had started this week.

It seems like she has been having problems with a friend who has been bullying her physically and emotionally.

I hugged her and told her that I loved her. We talked then she went and had a bath.

This is new to me. Have I done the right thing? What else should I be doing?

Does anyone have any experience of this please?

WorriedTeenMum Fri 01-Feb-13 07:11:54

I talked to older DD about younger DD hurting herself (older DD sworn to secrecy). It seems to be more common that I realised.

I think that DD is embarrassed by the cuts (I have signed her off PE for today) but I think that there is also embarrassment about the way her friend is treating her.

God this is difficult.

Beckamaw Fri 01-Feb-13 07:18:49

She has talked to you, which is really good. You have listened, without judging or berating. I think many people underestimate what that means to a confused teen.

Usually, this sort of behaviour goes undetected for a while. By the time it is tackled, it is a deep rooted habit. sad
Keep talking. Offer hugs, tea and sympathy. Make sure she feels totally safe in her home environment, and ask her to come to you each time she has an urge to self harm.

Is this ongoing bullying? Does the school have a clear policy?

happystory Fri 01-Feb-13 07:20:18

having had this with 16 year old dd, i know how worried you feel. it is remarkably common, although i didn't know that either. i think its brilliant that she has told you and will talk to you about her school problems. will you speak to the school about the bully problem?

WorriedTeenMum Fri 01-Feb-13 07:54:20

Thank you for replying.

We are talking about the bullying. The bullying friend is part of a wider circle of friends. God knows the bullying friends has problems of her own but she should not be making these DD's problem.

I think that what has happened is that there has been a crisis in bullying friend's life and she is taking it out on DD. DD is then torn between being hurt and wanting to stay a good friend. She has taken out the confusion and hurt on her self.

The school does have a strict anti-bullying policy which DD knows about.

MrsFriskers Fri 01-Feb-13 08:17:38

Speak privately to the school to let them know about both the self harm and the bullying. They may have a school counsellor service for your girl. Without wishing to alarm you, this can become entrenched and you should go to GP and ask for a CAMHS referral if this becomes so. They were very helpful with my youngest, but it has taken a long time for her to find alternative coping methods.

morebyluckthanjudgement Fri 01-Feb-13 16:52:12

I've just had a call from my DD's school (16 year 11) to say that today she told them that last year she cut herself because she felt so bad. I'm reeling - she's such a level headed mature girl and has always been quite scathing of kids who self harm (she has 2 cousins who have had terrible mental health problems). She's told school that she hasn't done it since and only tried it once but the child protection officer had to call me. Now I don't know what to do - do I speak to her about it or do I just wait and see. She usually tells me everything and I think the only reason she hasn't told me this is because she's worried I'll be upset because of what my brother has been through with his girls I'm desperate to speak to her but I don't want to make it worse. What do I do?

WorriedTeenMum Fri 01-Feb-13 21:11:27

My feel (on the basis of 1 day's experience!) is that you know and that you cant pretend you dont know. Could you clear some space and time and tell her that the CP officer has contacted you and then go from there? If she doesnt want to talk yet then she knows that you know and that the door is open to talk at another time.

What do I know though?

WorriedTeenMum Sat 02-Feb-13 13:27:32

On DD1's advice we are going to update DD2's bedroom with DD2's full input and assistance in both layout and decor. I am hoping that this will give DD a distraction and also give her good reason to not accept visits from the bully/friend (not that we will let her in again!).

seriousone Sat 02-Feb-13 13:47:26

im afraid to say im a self-harmer and im an adult and its not something im proud off its just for me a way of coping withy different things(though not the right way i know)but as an adult its harder to hide amongst work colleagues as there is no understanding, i have had ppl talk behind my back about it which makes it worse. No help im afraid but all i can suggest is be there for your daughters and listen to them as that what i need the most , x

I'm going through this too. 15yo DD has cut her arms and legs and carved 'ugly' into her arm. She hid it from me for a few months to protect me. Things are better now it is out in the open and she is doing it less often. She is seeing CAMHS and a counsellor at school too. At home she often seems chirpy, but she hates her looks and we are working on things we can do eg eyebrow tidy, new clothes, a little make up, swapping glasses for contacts. One of her biggest concerns is her dad (my exH) who emotionally abuses her. She is refusing to see him at the moment and is scared be alone with her. She knows I love her and I'm there for her, I don't judge and I don't tell her not to self harm but try to come up with alternatives eg have a long bath with a book, play on the xbox or something to distract herself. It's tough.

WorriedTeenMum Sat 02-Feb-13 21:26:49

I am now worrying every time she is in her bedroom for any length of time. She seems happier and I am hoping that this was just a blip.

Do you know what she cut herself with? DD used a blade from her pencil sharpener, and when I took some pyjamas from her drawer I found a compass under them. You need to decide whether to search the room or ask her to hand things over, or just worry. If someone is determined to self harm, they will find a way.

WorriedTeenMum Sat 02-Feb-13 21:50:19

She was using scissors which she brought down to me. The thing is I dont know if that is it. Tomorrow I am going to ask her if I can see the cuts and check that they are healing. I talked to her today about helping the cuts to heal so that they dont scar.

DD willingly shows me her cuts/scars, I got her some Bio Oil and even rub it on for her sometimes. We talked about our summer holiday and how she will want to wear shorts etc and not feel inhibited, and made it clear that there is no question of her going in the pool or sea with open wounds. Hers aren't deep, and look so much better already than they did two weeks ago. Please ask your GP for a CAMHS referral...even if DD is talking to you now, it is best that she also gets professional help. We're hoping for CBT so DD has different coping strategies when she is struggling.

WorriedTeenMum Sun 03-Feb-13 14:29:46

She showed me the cuts, there were no new ones and the ones she has seem to be healing up. We put germolene on them. She said that they were a little sore so hopefully that will help. I felt this was a step forward on a few days ago when she was saying they didnt hurt and she was wanting to cover them up as quickly as possible. Today seemed to be more matter of fact, we were looking after them just as we would any other injury.

That sounds like progress smile

WorriedTeenMum Sun 03-Feb-13 19:09:20

Thank you, I hope so

TinkBelle Wed 06-Feb-13 09:31:14

As mum to a dd who self harms to a higher degree, I would say you are doing all the right things at this moment in time. She is communicating with you, she has told you very early on so she wants you to know, you have responded calmly and positively and are supporting her - well done. If it escalates at all, be ready to seek professional help ASAP, do not shy away from that, daunting though it can sound to take steps to involve professionals. Good luck, I truly hope it is a blip and that your support and interventions will be enough to help her through.

mindfulmum Sat 09-Feb-13 02:37:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MerryCouthyMows Sat 09-Feb-13 03:50:37

Where are the posts?

Hen2905 Thu 14-Feb-13 14:55:16

I have a 16yr old that started to cut herself last year. I'm afraid I buried my head in the sand & because nothing else was mentioned left it. She has a very up & down relationship with her Father, my ex. & a very bad relationship with new Stepmum. She stopped seeing her father 5 mths ago & has recently told me, under the influence of a couple of drinks, that she has started to do it again & even contemplated ending things. I was shocked, devastated & at a complete loss what to do. I contacted her Dad who was next to useless, then the next morning she refused to talk about it and now the walls are back down. She won't talk to the dr, she won't talk to anyone at school. I've let the school know whats going on, I've tried to get her to see someone & I've spoken to her closest friend so we can try to help her. I know I should be grateful that she opened up to me at all but I feel like I'm failing her. I can't drag her to get help but I'm so scared that if she gets low again she might do something.

mindfulmum Thu 14-Feb-13 16:35:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HeyHoHereWeGo Thu 14-Feb-13 16:44:43

I'm really suprised that you wouldn't think of going to the GP and seeking referral to CAMHS.
I see that thst is not the initial reaction for a lot of you, but I am genuinely suprised by that.
Self harm is like a see-saw: one side is the stuff the young person is trying to cope with; the other side is all the tools they have to cope.
Self harm comes about when the STUFF overwhelms their TOOLS
If they have great coping mechanisms, great support, close healthy relationships, friends, interests, take regular exercise etc, it tends to be a specific thing or event that overwhelms them - an incident of severe bullying, assault, hidden eating disorder etc
If they have poor relationships, dispruted family attachments, inappropriate boundaries, too much frredom etc, it can be less of a distinct "thing" that makes them harm, it can be something seemingly trivial, a mood, a distraction.
either way, I think contact with GP is a great starting point and ideally, every child who self harms would get to bring their family for family therapy, as it is rarely NOT helpful.

cory Fri 15-Feb-13 09:04:35

I was straight on the phone for a referral when dd revealed that she was cutting herself. Long waiting lists, but when I spoke to the school counsellor, she went straight to the phone and got us a referral.

Can't help thinking you left something out of your list, though, HeyHo:

"If they have great coping mechanisms, great support, close healthy relationships, friends, interests, take regular exercise etc, it tends to be a specific thing or event that overwhelms them - an incident of severe bullying, assault, hidden eating disorder etc
If they have poor relationships, dispruted family attachments, inappropriate boundaries, too much frredom etc, it can be less of a distinct "thing" that makes them harm, it can be something seemingly trivial, a mood, a distraction."

Dd has good relationships, strong family attachments and, I think, appropriate boundaries, but a strong predisposition to anxiety which is a known factor in her particular genetic disorder.

Sometimes it will take the form of self harming (or suicide attempts), sometimes of vomiting, or hyperventilating, or severe back ache. It's not just one thing, or one event; it's about how her body handles stress and that was apparent when she was very small.

CAHMS have told her quite frankly that this predisposition is something she will have to factor in when she works on coping mechanisms, because like her physical disability that will probably always be part of her.

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