Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

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Casual scribe

Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

My Son has started school today with around 80-100 light cuts along hi forearm. To my knowlegde this is just the second time he has cut at all.He is currently under the care of a Physciatrist and Physcologist after a suicide attempt between Christmas and New year - again a first.

All of this is very new behaviour that started just a couple of months ago.

When he cuts I am very unsure how to react, behave and respond?

Super contributor

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

Hello @Mumtoo Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.

 

I'm so sorry how terribly hard things have been for your son and you. Possibly the only thing worse than being in so much pain you need to self harm or suicide is to be the parent watching helplessly as it happens.

It's completely understandable and natural for you to have no idea how to respond when this happens. But it says a lot about what a committed and loving parent you are that you are looking for suggestions.

We have some info that should help you understand and manage the self harm incidents. This one is about why young people do it and this one links to a number of different things to do when managing self harm. I highly reccommend having a look. Expanding your understanding of why and what to do can really help with the feelings of being powerless. 

Which leads me to ask what kind of supports you have in place for you. Supporting your child through something as distressing as a suicide attempt and self harm takes a lot out of you. There's a tendency to put aside all your own needs and focus solely on theirs. Which feels like the right thing to do but unfortunately will lead to you being depleted really quickly. How are you keeping yourself afloat? Who's helping you?

 

 @Lizzy @just-me and @Chauny have posted about supporting their young people who self harm.

And @Mitzi @waldo_pepper and @mumlittlehelper all offered wonderful suggestions.

 If you guys are around could you let Mumtoo know anything that helped? Or, anything that really didn't?

 

 

Active scribe

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

You are an amazing mum @Mumtoo!
My daughter has been cutting her self for just over 18 months now and as a parent each and every time there are new emotions and a sense of helplessness for me. But you learn to react calmly each time. The things that have helped me are, to research, try and understand why they do it.
I use to search her room regularly to take the things she was using and each time there was something different, her psychologist said if I continue to take everything she may find something that will do more damage, saying that all our knives and anything sharp are locked in a cupboard.
I'm learning it's a long process to recovery which doesn't make it easier but the best thing you have done is getting him professional help.
With each incident I tell her (whether she wants to hear it or not) that I am here, I won't give up and I love her.
I also now make rules as she mainly cuts her arms, being summer if she chooses to cut (she hides her arms under long sleeves) she can't leave the house as its a safety risk with her over heating, I still don't know if this works right now but it makes her think twice now.
The best advice I was given from the professionals was make yourself a good support network and let someone else take the pressure and spend some time with others so your other relationships don't break down.
It's tough being a parent of a child who self harms!
Casual scribe

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

Thanks for your advice.

I do plan on getting some counselling for myself, it has been a challenging year for all of us, losing both parents  (my sons Grandparents) in a short period of time, family conflict and now my son with a suicide attempt after Christmas and now self-harming. I am lucky to be supported by a wonderful partner and great friends.

I have read quite a lot on this forum and the internet about depression and self-harm. The more I read the more I feel like my son is not really following any of these traits or behaviour. (This week I have finally been advised that his suicide attempt did not involve the amount of drugs if any that he said he took. It is SO frustrating as a parent to have privacy thrown in your face when trying to really understand what is going on. I realise that in situations some parents should not be across certain information, but really why not get a background story from the people who know the patient rather than shroud everything in secrecy. Why wouldn’t the emergency department tell me that they didn’t find evidence in his blood that he took the drugs? I have been left spinning and now spinning in another direction to think that he went to such an extreme measure and lie).

I fear that in realty my Son does not have depression abut perhaps anxiety. He tells me that he has depression yet I don’t see any signs - finally this week another case Dr read his notes and disclosed to me that the ED team and then his physiatrist also do not believe that he has depression. It’s hard to understand why I have been kept from this important information regarding my 15 year old son.

Now with this week’s sell-harm I also see not the behaviour many of you describe, he isn’t regretful, embarrassed and does not want to hide what he did from anyone. He went to school with 100 fresh cuts on his arm to lead peer support at school and thought it was all okay. He denied that he did it the night before and tried to say that it was a few days ago, but it was evident that it had just been done.

I am now in a lost situation where my son attempted suicide and is committing self-harm but is not depressed. I assume this is some form of attention seeking or emotional void he is trying to fill?

My son is much loved, active sportsman, intelligent and a USUALLY a great communicator.

Now he is lying and manipulating continually but not just to me, also to the professionals who are trying to help him. (I can’t even believe I am saying this about my son – all of this is so foreign to me.)

 

Active scribe

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

Hi. Sorry I haven't had the chance to chat lately. Things got quite low and scary there with my daughter and she had a trip to go on which I ended up on too.  I had no internet so haven't been able to write and then I lost my password so my apologies.  I went on the trip for support if she needed and she did really well. There was still an undercurrent but it was nice to see her smiling and a bit more confident. I'm kept low key on the trip because she wanted to be independent but every now and then she came to for a quick hello which was nice. This was good for me too. I learned a lot about what she can do on her own rather than what she shouldn't do.  We returned form the trip just before Christmas and we had a lovely day and then went away as a family for a bit which was nice albeit a little stressful at times.  I think it helped us to bond a bit more as a family as we were far from our normal location.  I had a whole of the school holidays off which was a deliberate effort to provide the kids with a stable and happy time at home in the hope that this year would start well.  So the school year has started and so far so good.  She seems more like herself although I can see that there is still a long way to go.  I am hopeful that she becomes stronger as the year moves on and she copes with some of the stressors that come her way in a positive and constructive manner.  I am prepared for set backs but I am hopeful that she won't revert to her old coping methods.  I'm going to write a summary of how we have helped her over the last few months and how she has helped herself and how I have sought help so that anyone reading this can know they are not alone if they are experiencing similar things with their children.  It really does help to read other people's experiences.  Thanks for caring!  You have no idea how much you have all helped me personally through this nightmare!  Give me some time to write my story now.  Mumtoo - stay strong and look after yourself in order to look after your son.

Active scribe

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

@Mumtoo, reading your last post just had me in tears... It was only 2 weeks ago I asked my daughters psychologist if she too was being manipulative and if this was a game to her. We have been seeking help and going through this for quite some time and while we have good days which can last into weeks and if we are lucky a month we still have more bad days. 2 nights ago things escalated for her where the police were involved because she had cut herself and then took off and with the amount of blood and we couldn't find her I panicked. They ended up calling an ambulance and they had to escort her to the hospital. She too comes from a very "normal" loving supportive family which makes this even more confusing. She then had to stay under police guard the whole time at the hospital because she didn't go in willingly. My daughter is only 13 and we were not allowed in the room with the doctors because she didn't want us there, I trust the professionals but my daughter also lies about things she has taken which I just can't begin to process why she would do this. She also is, for lack of a word, proud of this whole incident!!! We are a very open and honest family so I just don't understand. She has now been referred to a new team of psychiatrists which her assessments start today so maybe I will have a better understanding
Casual scribe

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

Thank you @Chauny
It is a very challenging and scary thing to deal with, but knowing I am nit the only one in this situation makes me feel like I am not totally crazy - yet.
I work in Education and constantly remind people of how critical mental health in teenagers can be an issue - never did I think it applied to me.
That's the real truth though - it can apply to anyone.
Currently my Son is now receiving treatment through the CAMHs unit at our local hospital which we were encouraged to engage with after his suicide attempt. Not sure if the counsellor he had just had 6 sessions with november/december approved of the move - but I guess we go with what seems to be the best option for our children at the time.
This psychologist has started with a different approach where the first session had us both with him. No private conversations, confronting yes but the lies and manipulation were at a minimum with me sitting there. Hopefully sometime soon we will start moving forward.
Super contributor

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

What an incredible wealth of experience and compassion there is here. I am in awe of you all @Mumtoo , @Chauny and @Lizzy. Such incredible mums (and I'm sure there are Dads in there too) dealing with the most incredibly difficult situations and still managing to be loving and patient with your children and then supportive and kind to each other! Incredible.

 

 

 

Active scribe

Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

We had our initial appointment with my daughters new team, I was with her the whole time so our session like yours @Mumtoo had little manipulation and she was unable to lie about the facts. I left there feeling hopeful as we have a whole family session arranged for Monday. But this morning I have woken up angry, I haven't felt this emotion through the whole process until now. We also have another child who is 5, my daughter is now saying that she doesn't feel part of the family because of the 5 year old. I know she has a right to feel her own emotions but as a parent who loves both my children equally, if I am honest the 5year old gets no where near the enough "fun" time with us as we are so consumed with helping my daughter. Her psycologist recently said to me she forgets we have another child and I replied sadly sometimes I do to. I now wonder if this is just another attention seeking ploy. I am so confused.
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Re: Apart from offering medical assistance, what can I do when my son - cuts himself?

@Chauny this sounds like a very hard and challenging situation for the entire family. It sounds like you all are trying very hard to progress and keep on the right path, it must be hard trying to split this attention between the kids as well. Just out of interest have you checked out Parentline at all? The link there has a list of numbers for each state Smiley Happy 

The  counsellors there are able to explore a tone of issues impacting parenting, family and overall relationships. In the mean time have you got any self care planned to give yourself some down time?