Question on Cutting
Nov. 11th, 2004 @ 10:53 pm
Here's a question:
I have a friend whose 15 year old daughter went in the last year from being a pretty normal, well adjusted girl to a girl suffering severe depression. Recently, she's started cutting.
My friend and I were talking because though her daughter is in therapy once a week now and they're dealing with it the best they can, she's really unsure of how to handle the cutting--like what might help her daughter and what might drive her further away.
So I'm asking those of you who cut/used to cut: as a teenager, what could have helped you and what would have been damaging coming from a parent? (And as background, the mom and daughter have a very good relationship).
I told her I never cut so I couldn't really say, but that I would ask around.
I started cutting when I was 14 and didn't completely stop until I was almost 19. I started cutting because I had things going on in my life where the pain was so overwhelming that I thought if I sliced until I bled that I'd have a different type of pain to concentrate on and I'd be able to escape for a bit. And for me - it was a way to keep people away - they thought I was a freak or that I was severely depressed and didn't want to bother with me. (But I'm scared of people - so that could just be a "me" thing.)
After a while, it became a coping mechanism. I kept broken tape cases and ripped up coke cans by my bed at all times. When something bad would happen - cutting was the first thing that came in my head. When I started to fight the urge - to really fight it - it would get so bad that my wrists actually ached.
My mom always used to tell me she understood what I was going through. I use to hit the roof over that one - because unless you've actually been through it - you have no idea. And she said that she was going to do what ever it took to get me help. I didn't want help from other people - I wanted her. I wanted to hear - No, I don't understand - so make me - tell me what's going on - and I'll find a way to bring you through this.
Don't know if that helped any - but that's my experience with it.
I know a lot of cutters and ex cutters. I will try to get them to come and answer this post.
From my limited knowledge, cutting starts as a means to dealing with complex emotional situations. Often its the easiest way of dealing with it. Medication doesnt really seem to help cutters, although i do know of people who self harm that are on anti psychotic medication (I wouldnt recommend that to anyone tho for cutting)
Psychotherapy is the best way to deal with things like this in my opinion. It helps get to the root of the problem and combined with something like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, it can educate the cutter on better dealing with her emotions.
The mother shouldnt freak out at her daughter for doing this, instead she needs to listen to what her daughter has to say and try to understand where her daughter is coming from. There are loads of sites out there that deal with self harm.
One thing I would recommend is teaching her safe cutting. If she insists on harming herself, she needs to know how to be careful when shes doing it and she needs to know how to look after her wounds to make sure she doesnt get infection etc.
For both mother and daughter there is a site ... www.selfharmony.co.uk, which has a forum and also has information about safety etc.
For me cutting was a way to express my inner pain. If i could see the cuts and the blood i would know i was letting some of it out. It almost brought a calm to my life when things were crazy. I would see the simplest things and turn then around in my head as to what i could draw the pain forth with. It started simple and easy..pins, knives, broken glass, and got to the point where i almost always carried a pocket knife or razor blade with me. To feel the slice was a cathartic release.
There is no easy way to bring this up to a child. I can sorta remember watchin the adults in my life struggle each time they saw a new cut. Each time they saw me with long sleeves in 90 degree heat it was like another spear to the heart.
I can only say what brought me to change was the slow realization that there was otehr ways to let my pain out. I found a hobby i could do and threw myself into it head first. When the days became unbearable I had a person i could call and say "hey, im so close to snapping, talk me through this". What she needs to know is that people arent against her when they are trying to help, that there is always someone she can talk too and eventually she will see that there are other ways to deal. This will also be the hardest lesson mother and daughter have to learn together.
Hopefully this helps, but If she (the daughter) needs someone to talk too you'll find my email addy in my user info. Maybe it would help to come from the perspective of a young adult (21)..maybe not. Only time will tell - Take care.
For me therapy as a teenager did not work. I walked out of the house and told my mom that I told him, the therapist, what he wanted to hear. I was not a good teenager. At that point I was not cutting, just very bad behavorial problems. If she is going to therapy willing that is very good. The parents should educate themselves on cutting with everything they can from books to websites, to understand.
I don't personally think therapy will help.I had a councellor when i was about 7 and a shrink because of traumatic stuff that happened when i was really young and all it taught me was don't trust them.I think the cutting thing isn't too much of a problem as long as it doesn't turn into suicide.That might sound a bit stupid but i cut and i know my mum used to as well (she told me when she found out)and untill she realises it won't stop thing beings fucked-up she's not likely to listen to people telling her so.Her mum should make sure she doesn't start treating her like shes recovering from an illness and if she really really has to see the therapist isn't patronising.Also she should make sure she knows what her daughters freinds are like because i had a freind who subtlely treated me like shit and that really messed up my self esteem and was a big part in me starting cutting.
p.s.(really big hugs also help.)
I don't have any comments to add to those above, but you can look for information at http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/injury.html
There are also a couple of very good books:
Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation, by Steven Levenkron
Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program for Self-Injurers, by Karen Conterio and Wendy Lader.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
I'm nineteen & I stopped cutting two months ago. but I did it for almost ten years. distraction is the best thing that helps. tell her to encourage her daughter to do fun things that will take her mind off of the cutting. anything that will keep her active will help her mind & her emotions. that's just my opinion... everyone varies.
I know this post is a little old, but I am a self injurer. I cut/burn since I was in middle school. I am now 23 and I am still active even though I have gone thru periods without it, but I also am bulimic which cycles on and off. SI(self injury) is the way a person can deal with things as means of distraction. Same as when people drink, do drugs, over eat, gamble ect ect its a way a person doesn't have to feel what's really bothering them. I cut when I am really lonely, depressed, angry, or when I feel numb and I want to feel pain. I also cut to feel numbness at times. It is an extrmeley addictive behavior. Society see's it as a taboo something others know happeneds, but no one really talks about it. My parents totally do not understand about SI and they never wanted to. Denile was there way to deal with it. If my mother sees a healing cut or burn she says " I hope your not doing THAT again' and that's her way of dealing and it infuriates me and makes me want to do it even more. Like the pink elephant in the living room..we know its there..but no one wants to talk about it. So, I would suggest to your friend that she always try to stay calm and try really hard not to use words that make her feel shameful or wrong. Always leave an open end for her to talk about it when she feels she needs to. hope this helped some :)
My best friend and I have been close since preschool. She loves me with everything and I love her with everything. My life wouldn't be the same without her, vise versa. She went through some hard times over the last year. Mostly having to do with people who weren't treating her right, boys mostly. She went into a secret depression. As close as i am to her, I didn't know she was cutting. She finially came to me to help her to stop. The only thing I could do is help eliminate the pain that was making her do this in the first place. Anyone who has a problem with this has to look to the loved ones in their life, and of course God and our Lord and Savior Jesus.