12-14-2017 08:33 PM - last edited on 02-02-2018 04:13 PM by Danielle-RO
Tonight I discovered my daughter (soon to be 14) has self harmed in the past. I've had a suspicion for awhile but never had hard proof.. tonight I sadly saw the evidence. After finding her dressing gown full of tonights dinner, a stash of bandaids hidden in her dresser drawers. I confronted her, asked her to show me her belly and then her legs... which she only showed part. After protesting she finally lifted her shorts all the way up and they were covered in silver scars.. nothing fresh.
Insert instant feeling like a failure as a mother.. she assured me shes ok now and has been since we switched her highschools 6 months ago.
What do I do now? I'm terrified of telling her father (we have been separated for 12 years).
I told her that I wasnt angry or disappointed and no matter what I have always got her back.. appologised for not knowing sooner and not getting her help when she needed it.
The scars.. I never imagined I would ever see her skin covered in them.
I feel so incredibly alone and scared i'm making all the wrong decisions
12-14-2017 08:56 PM
@Moonlight I am so sorry to hear about this discovery, absolutely you have every right to be upset and sad at your child's self-harm. Isn't mother's intuition amazing? You're absolutely not a failure as a mother. You're doing all of the right things, you didn't get angry, most importantly you didn't shame her. You let her know you are there. Adolescent's self-harm is not always a reflection of a particular parent. Has this discovery opened up some dialogue with your daughter about the SHing? Was it the previous school she did not like etc?
The most important thing from here, is that you two both get proper support. Family counselling would be an amazing next step, you can also discuss with the counsellor whether or not telling the Father will be helpful for your girl. We have a service here too called ReachOut Parents coaching, it can be great for providing that extra online support as a parent of a teen.
What are your thoughts on counselling?
12-14-2017 09:18 PM
she had some issues at the previous school, she found herself just getting into trouble and didn't know how to get out of it. She is super bright.. and I know most parents say that right? she didn't like who she was becoming.. so after she got suspended for standing up to a bully I asked her if she wanted to change schools and she did.. so I changed her the very next week.
We've been talking more lately which has been good.. apart from every time I think we are getting through the rough patch.. something else happens! we recently discovered shes been sneaking out her bedroom window.. her explanation is that she was having anxiety about exams and just needed the air...do I believe her? I dont know.. she was taking her big doona cover outside with her.. so maybe?
We've been going to the gym together for 1 on 1 time, I know the gym helps with my mental health.. so I was hoping it has with hers. I've let her read my poetry I used to write at her age when I was struggling, to let her know she is not alone in how she feels.
I'm totally down with doing anything to help her.... I called my boss in tears and she has given me the day off tomorrow to get her booked into see a Dr to discuss what we do next. Too much info maybe? but her periods which she has had for 2 years are no where near regular so i'll be requesting a blood test for her for that.
she told me she is ok, and that she is happy now... i'm just scared that I didn't see it before what if I miss it and its too late? god its hard not being able to fix everything!
sorry not sure any of that made sense and was a little all over the place.
12-14-2017 09:47 PM
"We've been going to the gym together for 1 on 1 time, I know the gym helps with my mental health.. so I was hoping it has with hers. I've let her read my poetry I used to write at her age when I was struggling, to let her know she is not alone in how she feels." - This touched me, absolutely incredible.
You really have so much genuine care and love for your daughter. You are providing a safe and trusting space for her. Sometimes, as frustrating as it is, young people do go through long phases of repressing their thoughts and feelings from their parents. It can feel like a very helpless realm when they shut off.
It's wonderful reading some of the strategies you are using such as the gym, and sharing your own poetry to help normalise her pain.
I am definitely hearing you in regards to self-harm. You want a preventative measure in case she really does damage to herself, this is very understandable. I just want to let you know there's a couple of services you can talk to who can help support you with managing your daughter's self harm, and the signs to look for in future.
One is Suicide Callback Service. They work with people who are suicidal as well as carer's of people who self-harm and attempt suicide. They receive calls regularly from parents such as yourself, they're staffed 24/7 by qualified counsellors (web chat as well). Their number is 1300 659 467.
There's also Sane Australia, a wonderful organisation who also have a help desk until about 10pm AEST.
12-15-2017 08:18 AM - last edited on 12-15-2017 01:31 PM by Sophi-RO
I thought the gym was a good idea... but i'm afraid it may have back fired. I've always tried to be wary about teens and body image. I few weeks ago I stumbled across images she printed out of girls with anorexia and saying like candy or colar bones and calendar month printed out with how many calories she was allowed to consume.. she assured me it was just a thing at the time and she loves food too much. After doing some research self harming and eating disorders can be linked and can go hand in hand. She doesn't weigh much as it is
I managed to get her booked into a dr this morning and I guess we will take it from there
How on earth do I manage to get myself together and be strong for her when I feel like im falling apart??
I'll check out the places you have mentioned, thanks so much for just having a place like this where I can share and not feel so alone.
12-15-2017 12:52 PM
So glad you shared your story here @Moonlight and that you are not feeling so alone right now.
The things you are doing at the moment – in such a difficult and confronting situation – are so incredibly useful! It is great that you will be seeing a GP today and in terms of concrete next steps for your family I really think this will help both you and your daughter know where to go from here.
It seems like a concern for you is how you can be supportive even at the times when the worries you are (naturally) feeling is overpowering and this feeling has led to you second-guessing the decisions you make.
To back up what @Breez-RO said your compassion, love and understanding shine through in your posts and these are all key elements in ‘staying strong’ for your daughter despite how this is affecting you and I hope you can allow yourself to take some comfort from this.
I am really happy that you will check out the recommendations around counselling above and really hope that this too will help you keep on with the amazing stuff you are currently doing.
Please let us know how you get on with the GP today and thanks again for sharing your story.
12-15-2017 02:18 PM
The GP appointment went really well. He listened to all my concerns.. my daughter is a little shy/reserved so really didn't talk much. She has a referral to a psychologist and has a mental health plan. Blood tests were done to see if there is anything hormonal going on. The dr also wants to see her every month for a weigh in just to make sure that her weight stays stable and we can catch things early.
She seems happy to go and talk to someone.. especially when I told her to was totally confidential and they cant even tell me. She thinks this will help with next year and school and controlling her anxiety.
I hope so.. shes very very good at manipulating the situation and I struggle with how to discipline her knowing all this is going on.
Hour by hour, day by day.
12-15-2017 02:35 PM
Wow, you have the big one, don't you? I stood in your shoes a couple of years ago when I accidentally discovered a "good bye" note from my teen daughter. I can't stand the "S" word, but that's what it was, like a will and individual best wishes to her family and friends by name.
I totally mismanaged the situation I'm sorry to say, I went straight out and called the psychologist who was treating her for anxiety and stress related problems but I simply failed to even mention my fears, no terror, to Miss 16, as she was then, herself. All I could think of was that my baby wanted to harm herself, panic! She had a psych appointment two days later and it all came out there when I was invited into the session and Missy freaked that a) I knew about it, b) that I never said a word and c) that I was treating her like a baby. At this interview she admitted to self harm "for a long time" and when I raised an eyebrow she pulled her skirt up high to show the scars, old and new, to the psych and me.
Our relationship has recovered from this major damage and she no longer self harms, not does she want to she tells me.
The point of my story, Moonlight, is to make you feel that you have company on this site who have been in your shoes and felt the awful loneliness that you feel when this stuff happens to your child. I'm certain that here you have a sympathetic, understanding collection of ready to listen ears and hopefully some good advice.
My advice is, as always, offer your daughter unconditional love and tell her out loud that you love her more any words can convey. My daughter told me recently that this declaration of love, which she tested a few times, actually made her feel much, much better and helped the psych aid her as she regained her feelings of self worth. Still a work in progress but at least we are on the way and can all see progress. Hang in there, don't accept any backsliding or difficulties as defeat but rather as a part of the healing process I suggest. Good luck.
12-15-2017 02:41 PM
12-15-2017 03:37 PM - edited 12-15-2017 03:39 PM
It really sounds like a lot of really positive first steps came out of the appointment.
I love that you are taking things hour by hour and day by day and I hope you are giving yourself some space to appreciate how positive the steps that happened in the last hour have been!
It is also great that your daughter is so open to counselling - and as @waldo_pepper says - your role in loving and supporting her through that is going to really help no matter how much or little she chooses to share with you.
Something you mentioned in your last post makes me want to circle back to one of the links that @Breez-RO suggested earlier which was about ReachOut parents coaching.
Click here for a link to a video which explains all about it.
Because this service is tailored just for you and your specific concerns, it could be really useful to build strategies around how you and your daughter communicate and you might be able to use it to work out a really constructive way of exploring how to set boundaries and discipline.
Let me know what you think.