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Self Injury - Page 2

post #21 of 71
Originally Posted by rowantree
did anyone see oprah yesterday? They had blips of the show called intervention. One was a cutter- I was always more of a bludgener, i cut, but small - but this poor girl....I couldnt even watch, she was smearing her blood all over herself, it broke my heart. They said 50% of cutters were sexually abused. Anyone want to chime in on that one?
I was sexually abused by my step-father, but not till I was 17 and already sexually active, so I always kind of blamed myself.
I saw it. I'm not a cutter, but I was sexually abused, and I completely understand the urge to cut. (I chose to abuse my body in other ways). The show was very difficult to watch, but also very good.

I was crying through most of that 2nd part though. It was so wonderful to hear her parents apologize to her for not really helping her when she was molested. That's what started the fountain for me. I have longed for that from my parents for 19 years now. Then Oprah said some really wonderful things. What really struck my heart is when she said that it wasn't the sex of the sexual abuse that is so damaging. It is the shame and what the abuse does to you emotionally. This is exactly where my struggle lies right now. The shame and the urge to destroy myself, or to punish myself can be overwhelming at times.

((rowantree)) What happened to you is not your fault. He was still in authority over you, and he made the choice to hurt you and use you. It does not matter what your age was or that you were sexually active (by choice) already. What he did to you was not your choice.

post #22 of 71
I've read that around 60% are sexually abused. I was abused in all sorts of ways...I don't even remember the first time I cut, but when I did it was just like "Oh! Here's what I've been missing!"

The Oprah show sounds good - usually when they have cutters on talk shows they just say "Oh, it's an attention-getting ploy" or suggest all kinds of punitive measures.
post #23 of 71
I am a psychotherapist who works with adolescents and their families. I deal with self injury so much, and it's one of the toughest issues to treat. I would love any feedback from you all in how a therapist can best help young women (and an occasional male) with this. I really try not to be on either extreme side (meaning not to overly caretake/nurture or avoid the topic)-- I try to remain neutral and calm when they talk about it, and to not judge or shame them in any way. What I generally do is talk about the feelings and thoughts they were having before the urge to cut came on, and try to help replace some of the distorted or negative thoughts with more accurate ones. One of the hardest things is that the teens often don't really want to quit cutting, it's the parents that want them to. The teens don't often see the longer term consequences of hurting themselves. So I try to help them feel better overall, so the desire to cut isn't as strong, as well as help motivate them to use other coping skills that are less harmful to themselves. What I have found is that it's almost like an addictive behavior and it seems amazingly hard to stop.

Thanks in advance for any insight you can give. I am glad you are all open about talking about this, as I think it helps everyone involved. You all are very brave and strong.
post #24 of 71
Hints for Therapists:

1. Don't focus too much on getting them to stop cutting. Cutting is not the worst thing in the world. I've had several addictions to substances and to behaviors a lot more dangerous than cutting, and I've often said cutting saved my life when I was struggling to give up the other addictions. If they want to stop; support them in that. Also support them if they do not want to.

2. Don't threaten to report them to the psych unit. Most cutters know exactly how to cut in a way that is not dangerous. Fear of being sent away just makes them more secretive.

3. Don't use guilt. Don't tell patients that when they cut themselves, they are cutting their inner child. Don't focus on how disappointed their parents, spouses or children will be. Even if they are religious, don't tell them that their body belongs to god and they don't have a "right" to cut. One therapist told a client, who was a ward of the state, that if she cut herself she could be prosecuted for destruction of state property.

4. Don't use no-harm contracts, where a patient signs a piece of paper "promising" not to cut. They may be a short-term fix but don't address the larger problem.

5. Address the larger problem! Especially if the cutter is a teen, s/he may be currently living in an intolerable situation. And remember, what seems trivial to you may be intolerable to them.

6. Keep in mind that self-injurers often struggle with eating disorders, sexual abuse, and drug addiction. These may need more attention than the cutting.

Any more?
post #25 of 71
Keep in mind that different things work for different people, too. I know that just makes it more difficult... ...but yeah.

I hated when other people would try to make me promise not to cut. It made me feel SO trapped. Think about it.... what is a cutter supposed to do when their feelings get too big to handle, and they're trying to keep a promise to not use the only coping method they have?? It becomes a huge inner struggle. People who cut.. NEED to cut. It is an addiction, and we feel safer because of it. I think that, rather than try to stop the cutting... we need to learn better ways to manage our emotions. You can't make someome promise to stop cutting, without teaching them how to deal with their feelings first.

I think I went off on a tangent! Sorry!!

Oh, also.... you first need to figure out WHY someone is cutting, before you can determine how to help. There seem to be a lot of different reasons. Sometimes its gives a person something else to feel / focus on.... and sometimes people do it for the attention -- they don't know how else to make people see that theyre hurting and need help. Those are very different (but VALID) reasons, and would need to be treated differently.

I don't know if any of that is really what you were asking.... but take from it what you will. I think its great that you're trying to find out more about how you can help. Too many people think they know everything. Heh.

p.s. All of Greaseball's suggestions were great! I agree with it all.
post #26 of 71
to the therapist> I am not a cutter, but have gone through periods of head-banging. At those points i was trying to escape the huge feeling of hating myself or else just wanting to hurt myself since i felt i deserved it. Im not sure. I agree it is addictive. I am an addict(recovering) so to me many things can become addictive but something like pain and the downward spiral of negative thinking and behaviors is truly tough to stop. When one has so much pain it's a vicious cycle. I would agree with helping these young people learn coping techniques. Self-esteem, respect, responsibility.. all of that should be addressed in a very comprehensive way. I think if a young person wants to get better they need a real program, not just a weekly appointment.
Okay, HOPe that helped Thanks for coming and relating.
post #27 of 71
Thanks everyone, for your input!! I am going to print it out and put it in my self-injury file! I really do agree that making 'cutting' the big problem is not helpful, and that we need to figure out what is going on inside that is causing them to cut. I have tried contracts before, and it doesn't seem to work, and I can understand why now. It really is like an addictive behavior and I agree that it's better than a lot of the other 'addictive' behaviors, so it seems like it will just take time for them to really learn other coping skills that work for them. There is just so many differing 'expert' opinions out there on self injury, that it gets confusing and difficult to know how to best help them. Not that I know how to do that b/c I think that each person is different and each person hurts themselves for different reasons and emotions, and to me the important thing is for them to feel safe to talk about their feelings and thoughts and to not be judged or criticized.

Thanks sooooo much for taking the time to give your input, I really appreciate it. I am still interested in hearing others' opinions if anyone else wants to comment! Take care.
post #28 of 71
Thread Starter 
iwas curious to hear that you all pick your scabs and such. for me one of the biggest parts of cutting is making the wound to 'show' how I hurt inside and then letting it heal. I think thats the part that heals me. every one is so differnet.
post #29 of 71
For me, sometimes it was about wanting to see blood but not having any "room" for new cuts...or if I was fighting the urge to cut, re-opening an old wound could satisfy that urge.
post #30 of 71
For me, I like the feel that the cuts are there. Like... when theyre new. It's like some weird kind of security blanket.... I don't really know why. It helps me get through the day.
post #31 of 71
Greaseball -- your girls are so beautiful!!
post #32 of 71
Cuts are often markers of significant events and I used to feel like when they went away, my memory of the feeling would go with it, if that makes sense...
post #33 of 71

Just subscribing here...

I was a cutter from the age of 14? or so - before that I did some head banging, but I really liked to cut. I liked the attention from the selected peers I showed. I chose to use a safety pin most of the time, and it helped releive overwhelming strass. I have not had the urge in almost 2 years, and my depression in general has lessened since I had my daughter in Jan 03. I was never sexually abused, but there is a family history of depression, and I think it stemmed from that.

Just a question - has anyone else found that the scars go away quicker when you let your self get a sunburn? Most of mine are gone, or barely noticable now.
post #34 of 71
I've tried sunburns. It usually lessens the appearance of scars, but it's hard to get a burn on the precise right spots. And in the beginning it even makes the scars show up more.

Does anyone else feel they have to hide or lie about scars? I tell the truth now and don't wear long sleeves when it's hot, but I'm still really self-conscious around children or people I've just met.

My dh once asked me what I'd tell dd when she asked, and I have no idea what to say.
post #35 of 71
for 2 years I wore long sleaves all the time, but most of my scars are on my inner upper arms, and since it had *never* been burned before, in two summers they almost disappeared. You can still see afew, but they are not easily seen, even in short sleaves. I don't know what I would tell my daughter - that would be a hard conversation to have.

I applaud you for not hiding them anymore. It is good to have acceptance for all aspects of your self.
post #36 of 71
I started self-injuring as a child, like at 6 or 8 or so... got into it very heavily at 15, and spent the next 6 years or so institutionalized. My arms, legs, and the front of my torso are pretty much covered with scars, from cutting or 3rd degree burns. I did a few on my face but they healed pretty well - I think the ER docs take more care when stitching up a face, too. I do have scars on my forehead, so I wear bangs... many (most?) of my cuts required stitches.

I cut for lots of different reasons. Mostly it was a self-soothing thing, I think. After I cut (and sometimes did things with the blood for a while) I would get calm and sleepy, and usually fall deeply asleep.

Sometimes I felt pain, but usually I didn't. I've always been able to turn off pain, or at least take it out of my consciousness. I had dissociation/memory issues too, so sometimes I would have oven cleaner burning my arm for hours because I didn't remember putting it there and I didn't feel anything.

I totoally concur with Greaseball's advice for therapists, all of 'em. When my therapist started saying simply, "I'm sorry that happened", "Do you need medical care?", and "What was going on?", things got better. We did make a deal that I would make sure I got any necessary medical treatment, and he and I and the local ER made a deal that no one would try to commit me... if I wanted to go inpatient, that was one thing, but otherwise they would call my therapist and I would talk with him and then I would go home when I was medically stable.I am pretty impressed that they went for it, actually, but it worked out. They all knew me... they also offered to let me just come hang out at the ER whenever I felt bad, which was a nice offer even though I never took them up on it.

As I dealt with more issues in therapy, the self-injury gradually decreased. I think it's been a good 10 years since I got stitches, and maybe a year or so since I cut?

I do lie about my scars, usually I say I was in a car accident, or a motorcycle accident. People ask a lot, especially kids. I did tell my daughter how I got them about a year ago... for a long time she didn't ask, and then for a couple of years I told her I'd rather wait and tell her when she was older, and she was strangely okay with that.

I always had to cut whenever I thought about it, if that makes sense? I was really, really afraid that I would lose the ability to hurt myself, like I just wouldn't be able to do it anymore, so any time I started thinking that I would have to cut just to make sure...

post #37 of 71
Thread Starter 
hi Dar, I think I may have 'known' you for years...small internet..
post #38 of 71

Joining the thread...

Hey Mamas,

I want to see where this discussion leads. I've been a cutter since I was about 15. I've been hospitalized once - long story, and I might be able to share in the future, but not now. This isn't something I've *grown out of*, either. I keep waiting for that to happen.

Anyway, here I am...

post #39 of 71
I didn't know that a sunburn could cause scars to fade....

I almost never wore long sleeves to cover it up. Usually just when the cuts were brand new.... but after that, even if they were still healing, I didn't hide them. It honestly wasn't that I wanted people to see them (I HATED the questions), but that I just REALLY HATE getting too hot. And I felt angry over not being able to wear whatever I wanted. I hated to think of losing that freedom, I guess. SO.... I wear tank tops and short sleeves all the time.

There were a few times, that... if I felt my scars seemed particularly noticable, I covered them with makeup. Eventually I decided that was too much of a hassle, and I just didn't care.

No one really asks about my scars anymore. None of them are pink now.
post #40 of 71
Mine are pink and white, but a lot are raised or pitted too. Someone suggested getting them tattooed a flesh color, but they would still be raised. Something else I could do is get a bright, colorful tattoo over the worst of them.
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