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Coping with self harm as a parent

Discussion forum for parents in Australia


Coping with self harm as a parent

Hi, my child had been self-harming sometimes. They have professional help for a range of mental health issues and I know they're in good hands there. 

However, I am struggling myself with the idea of their scars being a visible reminder to them (and everybody else) for the rest of their life. Just the thought of it can make me feel physically sick. There's so much guilt and regret and wishing we could turn back the time, and sorrow for them. Guilt that I couldn't protect them from it, sorrow for what they must have been feeling and agonising over, that they couldn't talk with me and rather cut themselves.

I have asked several counsellors about how to deal with it as a parent, read countless forums and websites, but all of the practical advise I could find is how to support your self-harming child. There was nothing I could find in how to support myself, other than the usual stuff on self care. 

I am really at a loss here, sometimes can't sleep because the thoughts about their physical scars make my heart race. Nevermind the psychological scars... Then I'm thinking at least they are alive. But it doesn't help.

How am I as a parent supposed to deal with my inner turmoil and find some peace?


Thank you 

Community Manager

Re: Coping with self harm as a parent

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Hey @Gretchen 

Welcome to the parents and carers forum! Thank you for being so open and honest about what you have been going through, it sounds like this has been having a big impact on you and I am really glad that you have found us and have been able to reach out for some support.
I am sorry to hear that you are feeling this way and want to reassure you that how you are feeling is very normal and understandable. Many parents who have been through something similar also experience these same feelings of guilt and regret and you are certainly not alone in feeling this way. From what you have shared, it is very clear how much you love and care about your daughter and she is lucky to have someone in her life like you. It sounds like you were able to seek some support for her – which is really great to hear.
I was wondering if you are receiving any professional support for yourself at the moment, from either a GP or mental health professional? If not, do you think this might be something you would consider? I am mindful of the impact that this is all having on you, and I want you to know that you don’t have to overcome these feelings alone.
I wanted to share this article with you that I thought you might find helpful to have a look through, it provides some things that you can do to look after yourself as a parent. I also wanted to share a resource we have here where another parent shares about their own experience with their child self-harming.
It is important to remember that what has happened is not your fault and does not make you a bad parent at all. I can see how much you do care from what you have shared, and the reason this is impacting you so much is because of how much of a loving and caring mother and parent that you are and your daughter is very lucky to have you.
I want to remind you that you are not alone and that we are all here to listen and support you as much as we can.
Take care.