Daughter is cutting, how do I respond? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think this has been going on 3 years? 

 

She's 17 y.o, and a senior in high school.  I'd say 7th through mid-11th grades were just a blur of stress for her. Her first boyfriend-relationship fizzled really painfully, but she handled the next two much better. She's still friendly with both of them.

 

She had a difficult time making boundaries with one boy.  She enjoyed talking with him about Life, the Universe and Everything, but he was in love with her and got angry and weird when she got together with boyfriends 2 and 3. 

 

Her best friend is a super smart, straight A's in the honor program girl, and has toured various universities and will probably have few problems getting accepted where ever she applies. Dd was dropped from the Honors program (English and History) her junior year, and that really hurt. She's been comparing herself academically to her brainy friends for years and feels badly that she can't keep up.  But- her junior year she got straight As for the first time ever!  So, a big hit to her self-esteem followed by a nice boost. 

 

She was in marching band 9th through first half of 11th grade, and band was very intense.  Fun a lot of the time, but the band director is acknowledge by a lot of other parents to be a Pill. The band director decided he didn't like her and gave her a hard time. "He gave her a hard time" is going to have to suffice to describe a multifaceted, stressful situation spread out over two and a half school years. 

 

So second semester last year she dropped band and joined choir.  She says this was the best decision she made, it's made a huge difference.  She says, as bad as she knew it was, she still didn't realize how much the band director was making her dread school every day.  She loves her choir teacher, loves not being derided and harassed every day, loves being praised for singing rather than put down for not being a good enough musician.

 

She failed the drivers training written exam three times.

 

She's got sleep issues. She's always been a night-owl, but it's gotten out of hand.  So she's seen a psychiatrist who prescribed prozac and a sleeping med.  The sleeping med helps quite a bit. 

 

She started with a psychologist a couple of weeks ago, for talk therapy, and she really likes her, and I do, too.  She was finally able to share with me that she'd been having dreams about being raped. huh.gif bawling.gif The therapist suggested that she has a really hard time making boundaries and saying 'NO' (see creepy kid whose ass I wanted kick, paragraph2), and dd is sooo happy to have an explanation, and therefore she has something to DO about it- learn how to make boundaries and not feel badly about turning people down. 

 

Alright, so on the one hand-  she lives in a healthy, whole family, she's not being abused, she's not in a war-torn country, she has a pretty nice life in middle-class America.  On the other hand, she's had some big hits to her self-esteem.

 

But she's seeing a good talk therapist and she's seeing the psychiatrist this week to fine tune her meds.  The psychologist says the prozac obviously isn't working.  Her grades are in much better shape. 

 

So I don't understand why she's cutting. Or still cutting.  Why is she dealing with stress *this* particular way, that leaves permanent scars on her body??  She's obviously self-conscious about them, she covers them up when she's out. 


Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#2 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 06:57 PM
 
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I am not totally sure how to respond.

I was (am... hide.gif been trying stop, pretty successfully finally!) a cutter.

I think everyone cuts for different reasons. Even just for me alone there are varied reasons. I've discovered one really big trigger is feeling like I don't have a voice. This could mean anything from feeling strong emotions that aren't safe to express (especially anger), to just feeling unheard/misunderstood. Another trigger is past trauma (mostly physical/sexual abuse by boyfriends). Another is an eating disorder (anorexia) -- I've cut myself to punish myself for eating 'too much,' or just because I'm mad at my body. Sometimes there is an element of depression but more often that's not the case at all, I might even be pretty happy overall. It's just a coping mechanism for me (and not the only self-destructive way I cope...) I guess I prefer to take things out on my body because I've always had self-esteem issues, always felt fundamentally unworthy and damaged, and often felt like my body (or my mind) has betrayed me in some way. I'm shy and reserved so it's hard for me to speak up about things, or reach out to others. It also helps me feel in control... and alive. I dissociate and sometimes I've cut to bring myself back to earth.

I started when I was 15 or 16. Medication never helped me with cutting, though it did help my anxiety and other mental issues. I always hid my cuts but there was also a small part of me that almost hoped someone would find out & 'rescue' me. One thing that did not help -- and may have even reinforced the behavior -- was safety contracts. And too much attention to the cutting just made me tend to do it more. One of the best things I was ever told was that my cutting was a tool that served a beneficial purpose, although there may be negative consequences, and that it was OK for me to do it. I was doing it for a reason and while my therapist hoped I would stop & learn better ways to cope, she wasn't going to 'make' me stop. Instead she just focused on the issues that brought me to therapy, and improving my support system & coping skills, plus decreasing my anxiety and dissociation. Once in a while she'd check in with me to make sure the cutting wasn't getting worse, and she did want to make sure I wasn't going too far or hurting myself in a way that would require medical attention or endanger my life. But for the most part, she kind of ignored it, and that's really helped me to stop.

I don't know if that's at all helpful, I'm happy to talk more with you here or in a PM if you feel my perspective could help you better understand her. This post is a bit scattered, I'm a little distracted at the moment!

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#3 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 08:22 PM
 
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My dh was a cutter in his teen years and early 20's. He was really not happy where he was in space at the time. A lot of the same issues as your dd; anxiety, depression, low self esteem, feeling everyone was just so much better or further ahead or. Or. Or. I'm honestly not sure what helped him the most. Me :-), putting one foot in front of the other to achieve his goals in a way that worked for him or ? Our dd also suffers from anxiety and low self esteem. No cutting but we have watched out for it and she is on meds (Zoloft) and has been in and out of counseling.
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#4 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 05:33 AM
 
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I have no help or advice, sorry, but I couldn't read and not respond. I hope she finds herself in a better place soon.     

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#5 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 05:47 AM
 
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My son (now almost 23) started cutting in his teens..He still does..He has tons of issues also...Your doing it right though..Your being there for her and providing her with the tools and help she needs to beat this...She is the one who has to do it..And it sounds like she will...Good luck to her and you...Hugs...

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#6 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 07:12 AM
 
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I have zero experience with cutting.

 

But right now im dealing with my adopted daughter's trauma and attachment issues and reading a book by heather forbes about using a love based approach to parenting. There was a story in there about a teen cutting, and the mom walking in and finding out. Instead of taking away her instrument for cutting, or lecturing her, or making her promise she'd never ever do it again....she gave her a hug and told her how horrible it must be for her to be in so much pain that this was the only way to let it out, and she asked her daughter that if she felt like she needed to cut again, to PLEASE come get her, and she'd sit with her and just BE with her to support her while she did it. Her daughter couldnt believe her mom had that much trust and love for her. And apparently she never cut again.

 

Not saying i recommend that or know if i could handle it that way but its just one perspective.
 


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#7 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 08:15 AM
 
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Your actions and responses to her are communicating love, support, and a want for her to be in a peaceful, safe place, and I promise you, that means so much to her.

I think your daughter is pretty lucky to have a good mother to stand with her while she goes through some pretty tough teenage stuff.


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#8 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, all, this is SO helpful!!  Sorry, my post was pretty big and disjointed. 

 

Your perspectives are exactly what I was hoping for here. 

 

Just to get this out of the way, here is my perspective as a mother:  I'm just horrified and I don't think I could actually tell my daughter this is in any way OK.  I don't think I could sit with her while she harms herself.  She's my precious child, she came from my body and I have nurtured, cared for and protected the integrity of her body. If something or someone else was repeatedly injuring my child like this I'd do everything in my power to stop it, because that's what parents are for. This feels like a pretty big parental FAIL, that my child is harming herself and making permanent scars. 

 

To be clear, I know the above sounds like, with/to her, I'm making it about me.  I'm not at all. I haven't said any of this to her, and this is the first time I've put into words how this makes me feel.  I assume telling her how her cutting makes me feel (horrified, sad and panicked) would not be helpful to her. 

 

I've been afraid to ask her more about this, afraid of saying the wrong thing.  I'm afraid I'll cry, which will make her feel guilty.  But I think I need to get over that and ask her to tell me more. I'm going to send her therapist an email and ask for some guidance, too. 


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#9 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 09:58 AM
 
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"OK" is probably not the right word, I wish I could remember the exact words my therapist used because they were really helpful in reframing it. Anyway, that's more from a therapy perspective -- not necessarily the appropriate thing for a mom to say. I also can't imagine a mom watching her child cut (though that kind of support must have meant so much!), nor do I think most cutters would even let a parent watch.

I keep thinking about this thread and a few thoughts I want to share about what you might want to know:
- She is not a freak. She is not scary or hopeless or pathetic. Hopefully you already believe these things but she may not. She may feel ashamed, embarrassed, judged, or stigmatized for her behavior or her scars. She needs to know that you love her unconditionally and do not judge her, and that you are willing to try to understand her and help her (without overstepping).
- This is not necessarily a suicidal gesture. For many people who cut, it's more of a tool to manage feelings, the way drinking or smoking or drug use are tools (albeit also risky, damaging ones).
- Just like drugs, there can be an addictive component, and over time more/deeper/more frequent cutting is often needed to reach the same level of relief or release.
- Cutting can be dangerous. She could cut too deep, nick an artery, get carried away, or her wounds could become infected. Many people who cut are generally in control of it and won't need medical attention but some will. She needs to know what she can do if she hurts herself too badly -- and that if she turns to you for help & medical attention, that you will respond lovingly, so she's not afraid of asking for help.
- She may know a lot about cutting already. Or she may know nothing. She may know others who cut, or she may think she's the only one. I think it's important to find out what she knows so she can gain education about it -- to feel less alone, to learn healthier coping skills, to understand the risks, to understand some of the reasons she might be doing this.
- You cannot make her stop. It's really her choice, and she needs to be the one to stop it. You can offer support, hopefully with the therapist's help so your efforts don't unintentionally make things worse... but you can't really tell her she can't cut. The only way you could really stop her is hospitalization (although it is even possible to injure yourself in a locked ward of a hospital) and that probably should be a last resort unless she's suicidal or not functioning or something. So you do have to try to let go of the desire to stop her the way you would try to stop someone else from hurting her. It's pretty hard to protect someone from themselves.
- There are some tricks some people use to help stop cutting -- snapping a rubber band on your wrist, holding ice in your hand for several minutes, super hot shower, etc. You can google for more ideas & may want to share them with her. Sometimes these really help break the habit, but they also need to be closely monitored because for some people they will become new methods of self-injury (i.e. causing frostbite, scalding, bruising, etc.)
- You can share with her how her actions make you feel but that probably shouldn't be the focus of your support. She is having enough trouble managing her own feelings; she probably can't safely manage your feelings too.

So much more that I want to say but DS isn't letting me finish! I think you need to talk to her directly about it, if you haven't already, and find out what she's really feeling, why she thinks she is doing this, what she thinks would help her, since everyone is different with this... and be sure to communicate your love & support however she can best receive it (thinking five languages of love, make sure you communicate it to her in her language).

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#10 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

- You cannot make her stop. It's really her choice, and she needs to be the one to stop it. You can offer support, hopefully with the therapist's help so your efforts don't unintentionally make things worse... but you can't really tell her she can't cut. The only way you could really stop her is hospitalization (although it is even possible to injure yourself in a locked ward of a hospital) and that probably should be a last resort unless she's suicidal or not functioning or something. So you do have to try to let go of the desire to stop her the way you would try to stop someone else from hurting her. It's pretty hard to protect someone from themselves.
- There are some tricks some people use to help stop cutting -- snapping a rubber band on your wrist, holding ice in your hand for several minutes, super hot shower, etc. You can google for more ideas & may want to share them with her. Sometimes these really help break the habit, but they also need to be closely monitored because for some people they will become new methods of self-injury (i.e. causing frostbite, scalding, bruising, etc.)

journeymom i am not a cutter but i did other things. and i think crunchy's advice is really the way to go. i recall from my teen years, anytime my parents said in a kind way "but what about us" - i would get PISSED. Again its all about them?!!!

 

i think you have to become stronger and educate yourself first. collect information or articles that you can. armed with that sit and talk with your dd. share your feelings that you really wish she wouldnt because <include your fears - the observations, not the emotions>, not that it makes you feel you failed as a person.

 

my heart goes out to you as i discover how much of parenting is no longer under my control anymore as my dd grows up. that i have to arm her with the facts, but have to accept her decisions of what actions to take.

 

it will become a place of closer connection.

 

this is about her trying to cope and really has nothing to do with you. a really hard fact to accept.

 

as a wise mama of a 17 year old told me - no matter what her son does, no matter how hard it is for her and her dh, one thing was for certain. her son would never walk the path alone. she would always be there for him. his dad couldnt, but his mom could and did.


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#11 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 03:59 PM
 
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My kids aren't going to let me write much. I cut for a long time. I haven't cut in a bit over a year.

 

There isn't easy advice for this. Therapy is the best starting place. She is having some big feelings she doesn't know how to handle. I don't think you need to offer to stay with her. That's intense. I would ask her if she differentiates between doing it to "let off steam" or if she is playing with something that can kill her on purpose. You could get her the anatomy coloring book so she learns how to stay away from the danger zones.

 

I don't advise or condone cutting but it is far from the worst coping method I have tried. With some basic anatomy knowledge it isn't the bogey man. It's a less than stellar coping method.


My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#12 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 04:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

hug.gif
I am not totally sure how to respond.
I was (am... hide.gif been trying stop, pretty successfully finally!) a cutter.
I think everyone cuts for different reasons. Even just for me alone there are varied reasons. I've discovered one really big trigger is feeling like I don't have a voice. This could mean anything from feeling strong emotions that aren't safe to express (especially anger), to just feeling unheard/misunderstood. Another trigger is past trauma (mostly physical/sexual abuse by boyfriends). Another is an eating disorder (anorexia) -- I've cut myself to punish myself for eating 'too much,' or just because I'm mad at my body. Sometimes there is an element of depression but more often that's not the case at all, I might even be pretty happy overall. It's just a coping mechanism for me (and not the only self-destructive way I cope...) I guess I prefer to take things out on my body because I've always had self-esteem issues, always felt fundamentally unworthy and damaged, and often felt like my body (or my mind) has betrayed me in some way. I'm shy and reserved so it's hard for me to speak up about things, or reach out to others. It also helps me feel in control... and alive. I dissociate and sometimes I've cut to bring myself back to earth.
I started when I was 15 or 16. Medication never helped me with cutting, though it did help my anxiety and other mental issues. I always hid my cuts but there was also a small part of me that almost hoped someone would find out & 'rescue' me. One thing that did not help -- and may have even reinforced the behavior -- was safety contracts. And too much attention to the cutting just made me tend to do it more. One of the best things I was ever told was that my cutting was a tool that served a beneficial purpose, although there may be negative consequences, and that it was OK for me to do it. I was doing it for a reason and while my therapist hoped I would stop & learn better ways to cope, she wasn't going to 'make' me stop. Instead she just focused on the issues that brought me to therapy, and improving my support system & coping skills, plus decreasing my anxiety and dissociation. Once in a while she'd check in with me to make sure the cutting wasn't getting worse, and she did want to make sure I wasn't going too far or hurting myself in a way that would require medical attention or endanger my life. But for the most part, she kind of ignored it, and that's really helped me to stop.
I don't know if that's at all helpful, I'm happy to talk more with you here or in a PM if you feel my perspective could help you better understand her. This post is a bit scattered, I'm a little distracted at the moment!

 

This is very similar to my experience with cutting.  I started in my junior year of high school, and, like crunchy_mommy, have discerned many reasons for it over the years.  And, no, it doesn't really involve depression.  In fact - mild depression (which I now "enjoy") took over when I stopped cutting 8-ish years ago.  For me, it boiled down to the intensity of my feelings - good OR bad.  It was the intensity that I couldn't handle, and I found release in cutting.  I believe that there's a physiological side to emotion that can be very uncomfortable, and cutting somehow soothes it.  AND - I also believe that the sensation from whatever soothing chemicals the body produces is downright addictive, as much as any drug.  So...I guess I'd say that your daughter needs to be able to express herself, both physically and emotionally, as freely as possible.  The cutting, in and of itself, does NOT indicate that your daughter is "messed up" or in a particularly bad mental state, or anything other than being a normal teen with powerful feelings that are hard to handle.  My life completely changed when a therapist helped me realize that my intense happiness was a more powerful trigger than sadness or anger.  I'm sure you wish you could find and absolute solution to this, and I wish I had one to give you.  Based on my experience, I would advise you to:

 

*  help your daughter find safe people that are in on the problem and have her go to them when she's feeling the need to cut.  Your daughter can say "I need you to distract me," and they don't need to talk about it any more beyond that unless she wants to.  But that person will stay with her until the urge feels like it has passed. 

*  Also, increase physical stimulation to try to get that tension out of her body. 

*  And, lastly, make sure she knows how to keep herself safe from infection and other more serious dangers. 

 

OH - one other thing.  My parents cried and cried and I knew they saw themselves as failures because of what I was doing.  Then they shipped me to a therapist and kept their distance.  I don't think we ever really talked about it beyond that first day when the truth came out.  Argh.  Be present for your daughter.  Try to share your inner self with her and be available for her to do the same.  This is not a failure of your parenting. 

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#13 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

hug.gif
I am not totally sure how to respond.
I was (am... hide.gif been trying stop, pretty successfully finally!) a cutter.
I think everyone cuts for different reasons. Even just for me alone there are varied reasons. I've discovered one really big trigger is feeling like I don't have a voice. This could mean anything from feeling strong emotions that aren't safe to express (especially anger), to just feeling unheard/misunderstood. Another trigger is past trauma (mostly physical/sexual abuse by boyfriends). Another is an eating disorder (anorexia) -- I've cut myself to punish myself for eating 'too much,' or just because I'm mad at my body. Sometimes there is an element of depression but more often that's not the case at all, I might even be pretty happy overall. It's just a coping mechanism for me (and not the only self-destructive way I cope...) I guess I prefer to take things out on my body because I've always had self-esteem issues, always felt fundamentally unworthy and damaged, and often felt like my body (or my mind) has betrayed me in some way. I'm shy and reserved so it's hard for me to speak up about things, or reach out to others. It also helps me feel in control... and alive. I dissociate and sometimes I've cut to bring myself back to earth.
I started when I was 15 or 16. Medication never helped me with cutting, though it did help my anxiety and other mental issues. I always hid my cuts but there was also a small part of me that almost hoped someone would find out & 'rescue' me. One thing that did not help -- and may have even reinforced the behavior -- was safety contracts. And too much attention to the cutting just made me tend to do it more. One of the best things I was ever told was that my cutting was a tool that served a beneficial purpose, although there may be negative consequences, and that it was OK for me to do it. I was doing it for a reason and while my therapist hoped I would stop & learn better ways to cope, she wasn't going to 'make' me stop. Instead she just focused on the issues that brought me to therapy, and improving my support system & coping skills, plus decreasing my anxiety and dissociation. Once in a while she'd check in with me to make sure the cutting wasn't getting worse, and she did want to make sure I wasn't going too far or hurting myself in a way that would require medical attention or endanger my life. But for the most part, she kind of ignored it, and that's really helped me to stop.
I don't know if that's at all helpful, I'm happy to talk more with you here or in a PM if you feel my perspective could help you better understand her. This post is a bit scattered, I'm a little distracted at the moment!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

 

This is very similar to my experience with cutting.  I started in my junior year of high school, and, like crunchy_mommy, have discerned many reasons for it over the years.  And, no, it doesn't really involve depression.  In fact - mild depression (which I now "enjoy") took over when I stopped cutting 8-ish years ago.  For me, it boiled down to the intensity of my feelings - good OR bad.  It was the intensity that I couldn't handle, and I found release in cutting.  I believe that there's a physiological side to emotion that can be very uncomfortable, and cutting somehow soothes it.  AND - I also believe that the sensation from whatever soothing chemicals the body produces is downright addictive, as much as any drug.  So...I guess I'd say that your daughter needs to be able to express herself, both physically and emotionally, as freely as possible.  The cutting, in and of itself, does NOT indicate that your daughter is "messed up" or in a particularly bad mental state, or anything other than being a normal teen with powerful feelings that are hard to handle.  My life completely changed when a therapist helped me realize that my intense happiness was a more powerful trigger than sadness or anger.  I'm sure you wish you could find and absolute solution to this, and I wish I had one to give you.  Based on my experience, I would advise you to:

 

*  help your daughter find safe people that are in on the problem and have her go to them when she's feeling the need to cut.  Your daughter can say "I need you to distract me," and they don't need to talk about it any more beyond that unless she wants to.  But that person will stay with her until the urge feels like it has passed. 

*  Also, increase physical stimulation to try to get that tension out of her body. 

*  And, lastly, make sure she knows how to keep herself safe from infection and other more serious dangers. 

 

OH - one other thing.  My parents cried and cried and I knew they saw themselves as failures because of what I was doing.  Then they shipped me to a therapist and kept their distance.  I don't think we ever really talked about it beyond that first day when the truth came out.  Argh.  Be present for your daughter.  Try to share your inner self with her and be available for her to do the same.  This is not a failure of your parenting. 

 

 

I do think one of her issues is with her body.  Aside from the typical worries about their bodies that many girls face when they're developing, dd is also dealing with the fact that she's inherited her dad's short torso and tendency towards plumpness.  Every girl wants her developing body to be normal.   Perceived differences can loom huge in a woman's mind.  I've told her that there are lots of variations on normal, and she has one version of normal.  She's healthy and curvy, with a beautiful hour-glass figure. 

 

That's really interesting about how your cutting is a response to both positive and negative intense emotions. When her first boyfriend relationship fizzled out so spectacularly, through the tears she said a few times that she felt like she couldn't cry enough tears, her feelings were so strong.  She felt like there was so much inside her with no where to go.  And that corresponds with what I've read about cutting. 

 

That comment about increasing physical stimulation to try to get the tension out rings a bell.  We signed up at a gym in March and dd has led us (dh and me) in the effort to go!  No matter how hard it is to get our butts in there, we always feel great when we're done. So I resolved to just automatically say yes every time she asks to go.  I just don't think about it, don't give myself enough time to decide if I feel like going to the gym, just say yes!  Anyway, I think getting to the gym more often can only help. 

 

 

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- She is not a freak. She is not scary or hopeless or pathetic. Hopefully you already believe these things but she may not. She may feel ashamed, embarrassed, judged, or stigmatized for her behavior or her scars. She needs to know that you love her unconditionally and do not judge her, and that you are willing to try to understand her and help her (without overstepping).

 

 

I have to admit, I've been avoiding talking with her about this because 1) I haven't wanted to even think about it and 2) I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing, saying something that just makes her feel worse.  But it hit me yesterday, getting ready for her appointment with her psychologist, that she might think I'm mad at her about this!  So I told her I'm not, I'm not angry, and she was visibly relieved. Ugh, how horrible to think your mom is angry with you for being in a bad place!!  Anyway, she doesn't really want to talk about it with me, so I'm trusting the psychologist. 

 

We're off to meet a new psychiatrist this afternoon to re-examine the medications she taking.  


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#14 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 06:26 PM
 
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I don't have any experience with teens, other than having been one, or with cutting, but I wanted to chime in about something that Crunchy_Mommy said.  This addressed a different issue for me--another coping mechanism--I was reading a book by Marshall Rosenberg that included an example of conflict between a teen and parent.  Teen was smoking and parent was understandably upset and concerned.  The NVC response given is what really resonated with me, it was, "Good.  Teen is meeting a need."  Not, "Good, teen is smoking."  Or, "Good, Teen is potentially risking a lifetime of addiction and health issues,"  just, "Good, there's a need and it's being met."  So, ok, the need is being met, but maybe not in the most healthy way, so how can the need be identified or clarified  in such a way as to allow the possibility of healthier responses?  There is a real element of freedom lurking in that somewhere.

 

Does that make any sense?  What really got me about that was the total absence of judgment, and the basic willingness to acknowledge a need (and subsequent behaviors as a means of trying to meet the need, beyond good or bad judgments), and to explore ways to meet that need.  In the book, the mother of the teen is able to stop feeling so disturbed about the choice to smoke, and is able to offer support for the basic principle of meeting needs, at which point, the teen is able to acknowledge that smoking may not be the best way to go about it.  The focus had shifted to the conflict about the method of meeting the need, rather than focusing on the need itself, and when the focus shifted back to the underlying need, there was more room for choice and less conflict.  I think I'm garbling it a bit, but I think that honesty and acceptance are key to making room for the possibility of other choices.  Maybe I'm clouded by my own cultural judgments, but holding the idea that the choices that people make are need based, and accepting that needs are the basis of whatever behavior opened up a lot of room for me to look at my own choices without judgment (which can lead to feeling trapped by guilt/shame/disapproval/whatever, possibly perpetuating an overwhelming cycle) and think about how to meet needs holistically and in a healthy way.

 

So you have a need for your daughter to be whole and healthy and not harming herself, and she has a need for emotional outlet/dealing with overwhelming feelings (and also to be whole and healthy and strong/not harming herself).  All of those needs are valid and important and you are both trying to take care of them the best way you know how.  Is it possible that simply discussing the need without bringing the current behavior into the conversation as a good or bad thing would give enough space to consider alternatives?  Maybe with enough room and acceptance/support, she can find a more appealing and ultimately healthier choice?

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#15 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mama2004, great post. I shouldn't have opened up MDC, I'm supposed to be doing something else redface.gif, so I'll come back to this later.


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#16 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 06:27 PM
 
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I have a cutter close to me. What I have heard is that cutting can mostly be attributed to two causes. 1- I feel so much emotion that I can't handle, I need a way to let it out. 2- I feel nothing at all and want to force myself to feel something (pain). Cutting is not about suicide.

You are doing a great job giving your daughter ways to cope (therapy, meds, etc) and my heart goes out to you both. Couldn't read and not comment.


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#17 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 06:33 PM
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Cutting is similar to anorexia.  Both are unhealthy methods of coping, and both could end up killing the person doing it.  Both can be overcome, but it's a long, difficult road, especially if the behavior has been going on awhile.  She needs another way to express herself, and another way to occupy her time.  Get her into music lessons or art lessons.  (as well as therapy, which you're already doing.)  


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#18 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, this morning she showed me the wonderful sketches she'd made in the middle of the night. Off and on she's been drawing from a 'how to draw figures' (faeries!)  book.  Her therapist suggested that in those instances when she can't sleep she might go through the book and draw more figures.   It was kind of funny, she said she stayed up till 5am (that's rare) but she was so pleased with how the drawings came out! So maybe drawing is too stimulating to put her to sleep, but it was a healthy way to pass the time, instead of ruminating on everything that's wrong.  


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#19 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 11:16 PM
 
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Hey JourneyMom- I just saw this thread. Like the PP I am/was a cutter.  I did/do cut and even after decade(s) of therapy I don't know if I will ever truly be 'cured'.

 

There are a number of books about cutting/ self injury. The one *I* found most helpful is 'A Bright Red Scream' by Marilee Strong, searching this on Amazon will bring up several others.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Red-Scream-Self-Mutilation-Language/dp/0140280537/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347170891&sr=8-1&keywords=a+bright+red+scream

 

I've read them all over the years, done most of the workbooks and still refer to this book the most.

 

Cutting is something I do, its very personal, no one can make me stop, no one can take it away.  Therapists understand that.  Cutting is about being able to control the uncontrolable or feel the unfeelable, stop the unstopable etc.  I cut when I'm 'loosing time' or having flashbacks. I cut when I'm in a disassociative state.  Many times I don't remember cutting and cutting is what brings me back to 'present'.  Your DD might not even know shes cutting.

 

Art is a great outlet and its great that she is sharing her drawings with you.

 

PM me if you want to chat or more info.


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#20 of 23 Old 09-09-2012, 08:14 AM
 
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Different approaches work for different people, and some don't work. What helped me was a combination of very good therapy and knowing that my mother loed me but was also disappointed when I was cutting. Learning other coping skills made it possible to stop but I would have taken the easy road if I didn't have the support and intervention from my family. It was in some ways the same way as an intervention for alcohol abuse would have gone withouthe focus being how painful it was to watch my downward spiral. The desire didn't leave me, the ptsd didn't go away, but my ability to reach out for the support I needed and to find healthy ways to work through episodes has helped me not go back to cutting. I think you should talk to her about this with her counselor and not be afraid to cry in front of her. Realizing that I wasn't the only one hurting for myself helped a lot. It sounds like no matter what your solution is your dd has you as a support and I think that will be very beneficial in the long term.
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#21 of 23 Old 09-10-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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nak.

hugs...this is so scary and confusing. my daughter cut when having boyfriend problems but showed off her cuts at school. i self-harmed since i can remember, to release the pain of my emotions. one of my earliest memories is my mom yelling then i was in my closet, scraping myself with my hairbrush bc the hurting felt better. mom never knew i did that, she still doesn't know. nobody ever knew until i told my best friend in our mid-20's. i tried my best to be a better mom than mine to prevent this and felt like the biggest failure when i found out about my daughter. it feels like if i had been good enough she wouldn't have done it!! i am not abusive, and myy kids all come to me when having problems except for ths time. now i am scared to ask her to do anything or tell her to be nice to her sister for fear she will get upset...one night she half-assed did the dishes and i had her come back and finish, but she got mad and was sloshing water up the wall and complaining and i told her at her age she should do the dishes right. she got really mad and later came downstairs with long sleeves on, so i had to check her arms. she will NOT speak nicely to her 9 yo sister and claims she can't deal with her and is tired of us saying she can bc of her age. she is 17 and her almost-16 year old sister acts nothing like that. i feel like i have failed but at the same time, SHE has responsibility for her actions, and i get that, but where is the line between hers and mine? she is planning to be on her own 9 months from now but she can't wash dishes, or sweep, or handle living with a 9 year old? what a journey we are all on...and i have an 11 month old to add to the drama lol


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#22 of 23 Old 09-10-2012, 07:46 AM
 
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my big thing has always been to talk also, which is why they have always come to me, but this has been the worst to talk about. sex, smoking, all the normal things just come up and talked about like no big deal, but not this. we have talked about it and went to buy that expensive scar makeup, but omg it is hard.

this "emo" thing, where the kids show off their cuts to each other, makes it more...touchy?...i guess? is it real, or an emo fad?


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#23 of 23 Old 09-10-2012, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One_Girl, that's really interesting, your different approach. 


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