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Self harm

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Self harm

I have a beautiful teen who, I have discovered recently, has been self harming herself over the last 12 months or so and it seems to be increasing. The first few times I didn't know about because the area is covered by clothes but over the last couple of months the self harm has been visible and yesterday we had to go the emergency department to have them treated. She has a great GP, is on medication for anxiety/depression, had been seeing a psychologist but needs to find a new one and also spoke to the MH crisis team but I just don't know how to stop this from happening. I understand it is a release of intense emotional pain and a way to try to manage that and she has been given strategies to try to avoid self harm by using other ways of trying to deal with the intense emotions but she has chosen to self harm instead. She asks me to not refer to it by the method of self harm because it sounds too confronting, and wants me to say 'self harm' instead, but it is confronting and I want her to realise the gravity of it and not soften it by just saying 'self harm'. I hate that she is scarring her body like this and I worry that people will judge or misinterpret her, and I know they will and I can't protect her from that. I also worry that she will regret self harming and causing scarring and this will lead to even more upset. I took away all implements that could cause harm but she found something in my drawer. I wish I could get her to stop because the scars are forever. It's very upsetting to know that she is in that much distress that she feels the need to self harm, and we are working on the emotional side of it but I just wish she could find another non-permanent release in the meantime. She is very loved by family, friends, her beautiful boyfriend, she's mature and intelligent and we are very close so it makes it harder to understand and know what to do. I really feel that she will come through this and be ok regarding managing the depression and anxiety, we will get her any treatment that she needs, but in the meantime I want the self harm to stop because it's going to be there forever.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Or if anyone can relate/share their experience I'd appreciate that. 


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Re: Self harm

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Hi @Anroge 

Thank you for sharing your story. We can hear that you have done a whole lot of work around getting support for your daughter. You mentioned that you went to the emergency department yesterday - it was really great that you were able to do that, although it can be quite confronting at times. We wanted to check whether your daughter was safe right now?

It also sounds like you have a great understanding of why people self-harm which is really important in making your daughter feel validated and heard. The concerns that you have raised are very valid, not only as a parent of someone who self harms but also of the person who self harms as well. It can be difficult to accept but self harm is not always logical and even with other strategies available, a person can still gravitate towards self harm. It is so great to hear that she has a lot of strengths, amazing qualities and a caring support network. It sounds like you have a lot of supports and resources already, however, a lot of young people like using Kids Helpline or eHeadspace which have a telephone counselling and webchat service. 

We can only imagine how hard this is for you as a parent, especially as you mentioned that you have a close relationship with your daughter. Do you have any support for yourself at the moment? We have an article here on self harm, which has tips and stories from other parents who have been through a similar thing. If you would like to talk to someone, Parentline is a great resource and may be able to point you in the right direction of what to do next.

Just to let you know, we have had to edit out references to the method of self harm out of your post as per our guidelines. This information can be harmful or triggering to others who have experienced trauma. We noticed that you mentioned that your daughter  prefers it being referred to self-harm, as referring to the method of self harm is too confronting. Generally speaking, certain images, words or visible self harm marks can be triggering to people who self-harm. A lot of people already feel deep shame or embarrassment about self-harming, especially the fact that it can leave permanent marks. Unfortunately these kinds of consequences don't deter people who self-harm and they often find themselves being unable to stop but also feeling incredibly distressed over visible marks and associated judgement. Given this, it might be worth talking this over with your daughter again, if you feel as though this information is relevant to you.

Please know that we are also here for you too Heart