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A bit too much to handle.

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bewuzzled posted 4/30/2014 08:55 AM

On top of BH and I struggling with our relationship, my 14 year old is cutting. I am struggling to understand this child. I am struggling to understand the whole cutting thing. Why does my child hurt herself? It is absolutely devastating. We have sought help, of course. She's seeing a wonderful psychologist and has a new therapist. But what do I do? How do I help her?

I am literally standing on a line between giving up and trying harder. I want to make things better but I have no idea how.

Does anyone have experience with this? Resources to help me understand this? The stress is unbelievable.

Undefinabl3 posted 4/30/2014 10:17 AM

I cut when i was about 12 to 14ish i guess. . Most people thought it was about the pain, and I guess for some parts it was. For me it was more about control.

I didn't have control of my life at 14. I felt like i was mature enough, smart enough, and capable of making my own choices, but I was never allowed. I would always here "Well, i am the mother, so I tell you this is the way we are going"

So, I found the control the only way I could think it. I could control when i did it, where i did it, how many times, how deep, how long, ect....It was something that nobody could tell me how to do.

I never got help for it, I actually grew out of it. As a freshmen i got into so many activities and stuff, that needing an outlet was no longer an issue. I had a close group of friends, after school activities, 4H, the farm....My need to control the situation was replaced by my active life. I got out in did, rather then sit in my room and cut.

This age is so hard because these young adults are old enough and physically able to make choices and take on responsibilities, but I think that parents forget this fact. They still see their little kids that they have to do things for. And while i agree that as a parent you MUST be there for her, I also think that there needs to be some give and take, even if you don't like her ideas, there should be a compromise to help her know that you hear her, that her thoughts are valid, that her ability to choose is real, and that you will support her.

Kelany posted 4/30/2014 10:29 AM

I'm so sorry sweetie. I have no advice, but you're in my thoughts.

TrustedHer posted 4/30/2014 10:57 AM

There are lots of cutters and parents of cutters on SI, unfortunately.

The consensus seems to be it's always about control. It's self-medication for the out-of-control aspects of their lives.

Having said that, I still don't know what would work. 14 year-old cutters aren't mature enough to live independently, they can't really be in complete control of their lives, and their living situation contributes to that lack of control.

A psychiatrist could possibly combine therapy with drugs to help break the cycle, but she ultimately needs new coping mechanisms that aren't self-destructive.

hexed posted 4/30/2014 11:03 AM


We are dealing with the same thing with my 14yr old DSD.

We've got her seeing an IC who says pretty much what undefinable said. Control is a primary cause. 14 is a tough age because they think they are a lot more grown up than they are.

DD's IC also added 2 other concerns with it. If it is linked with depression, they may be doing just to feel anything. They may be struggling with depression and just not feeling -- the plain of lethal flatness -- is a term we've used around SI that seems to fit that. The other is attention seeking behavior. Negative or otherwise.

With DSD14 we have also found that it seems socially acceptable with her group of friends. Lots of them seem to handle emotional stress this we. We find it incredibly puzzling.

We are focusing on pushing her into lots of positie activities. Naming cutting as a maladaptive coping technique. Teaching her new coping skills. Gradually changing her social circle to girls who are not OK with this type of behavior.

DSD has been through a lot of trauma in the last few years. We just got custody of her from her abusive mother so lots of healing is needed.

Our IC has encouraged us to talk with her about it in a non-punitive way. She doesn't get punished for cutting behavior. We discuss it very calm and factually. We have tried to up the positive attention for other things and keep her engaged with the family...not a lot of hiding out in her room. Hang out with the family if you're home and not doing homework.

tushnurse posted 4/30/2014 11:36 AM

Mom of boy who did this very briefly. Luckily for me he felt safe enough to tell me. He was making bad grades due to lack of effort, he was without a purpose, and lost.

The consensus seems to be it's always about control. It's self-medication for the out-of-control aspects of their lives

This is very true. He didn't have control of the situation. His choices had led to a situation that he had little to know control over, he was also mad as hell at himself for allowing this situation to occur. So we sent him to therapy, had to wait months to get into a pediatric psych, and ended up cancelling the appointment because he had a great handle on it, by the time the apt came around.

We encouraged him to be more involved with the family, less time alone in his room, we also limited X box, almost an addiction with him at times, we made him start exercising, and encouraged him to use running. The funny thing is when I see him heading down to the treadmill now I know he is stressed, and I offer the opportunity to share with me.

He then started dating a girl who had been doing this for quite some time, and she was terrified of telling her parents. We found out a few months ago, and through our encouragement, my son's, my H' and myself she finally told her parents, who got her into therapy, and she is actually taking meds to help with depression.
She is learning better coping skills. We are all encouraging her. She has not cut in over a month.

bewuzzled posted 4/30/2014 15:52 PM

Thanks everyone for the insight. I had a good cleansing cry this morning and now I'm feeling a bit more ready to handle things. I appreciate everyone sharing. Good to know you're not alone!

deb3129 posted 4/30/2014 16:10 PM

I don't have a lot of suggestions, but I have a now 18 year old daughter that was a cutter for a brief period around 14. She saw a therapist and responded quickly. It was a pretty short phase for her, and she has had no problems since. She is now going to start college in the fall, and is a happy, well adjusted young woman. It seems really overwhelming and is so hard to understand, but I think most kids who do it come out on the other side okay. Especially when it is caught and they have caring family members for support.

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