RN's and self-mutilation

  1. .....
    Last edit by seewhiterabbit on Dec 2, '07
  2. 29 Comments

  3. by   grizngrit
    I'm far from being an expert on the subject, but I know enough fron working ER to know you need help from a professional that you TRUST enough to verbalize your feelings. I think that self mutilation is far more prevalent than most of us realize and comes in many degrees--Are the nurses that work extra with little respect or recognition just trying to keep body and soul together, exhibiting their feelings of low self worth, or self mutilating?

    Please get help if you are having these feelings/actions. "HUGS"
  4. by   RN2B2005
    I have some lovely cigarette burn scars on the insides of both forearms and wrists, as well as some fainter scars left by a Cuisinart blade. All of these were self-inflicted, and although I haven't done any self-mutilation in years, I feel like I should respond to your post.

    Contrary to popular belief (and most medical literature), I was not a skinny self-absorbed teenager when I did this to myself, nor did I present for medical or other attention. I did not have suicidal ideation. I was married, employed in a radiology clinic, and happened to be broadsided by depression.

    Injuring myself was a way to focus pain--I'm not a "talk-therapy" kinda gal. I stopped burning myself when I finally got it together to see a psychiatrist. I NEVER told the psychiatrist or anyone else about the self-mutilation. After being on medication for three months, I stopped having the urge to injure myself, and I've been on meds ever since. Even my husband thinks the scars are the result of a cooking accident.

    So, if you're self-mutilating, you're not alone. You're also not crazy, and probably not suicidal. I don't know if it's more prevalent in the healthcare professions, but it definitely occurs there.

    Feel free to PM me. I'm not the touchy-feely sort but I've been there.
  5. by   Sally_ICURN
    Is there some emotional pain that you are feeling that is not acknowledged by you or someone very close to you? Is there an abusive episode in your past or present? Is the only way you know you are capable of feeling pain is to inflict it upon yourself or do you need to feel pain to remind youself that you are really in the hear and now?

    From my experience with self-mutilation, and it has nothing to do with nursing, the person mutilating themself has experienced a very personal traumatic event. It's good that you are asking this question. I agree with Kansas FNP, please seek out someone you trust to explore your feelings with.

    Take care,

    p.s. I would never expect answers to those questions here, however those are a few questions to explore.
    Last edit by Sally_ICURN on Jan 10, '03
  6. by   grizngrit
    Are the nurses that work extra with little respect or recognition just trying to keep body and soul together, exhibiting their feelings of low self worth, or self mutilating?

    I hope no one misunderstands my comment--I only meant that sometimes we caregivers forget to care for ourselves.
  7. by   tattooednursie
    I have not mutilated myself . . . Not to my knowedge. I once woke up to a BIG cut on my wrist, and blood everywhere.But then like after a month or so, I had blood all over my face, hands, my bed, all over my body. i had it from head to toe just about. I looked like I went through a car wreck.

    Only 1 logical expanation. I have been abducted by ALIENS!

    Could be!!!

    In all actuality, My wrist probably got cut on the bed, and the mystery blood was probably a bloody nose that got on my hands and got smeared all over. GEE!!! Where my hands go when I sleep! SCARY!

    Anywats with that cut I was questioned on if I cut my wrists or not.
  8. by   delirium
    I have two younger sisters, they are twins. They are both self-mutilators.

    Mary has pretty much stopped. She's decided to go back to school, she's married, she has a job that she hates but she feels respected. She still thinks she's not good enough for anything but she doesn't cut herself anymore.

    Sarah still does. Sarah is the most successful out of all of us... she has a bach. degree in psych, does research/statistics for a prestigious university, has a great professor boyfriend who worships her, she's applied for Ph.D. programs, she's supersmart. You should see her arms, its disgusting. She's moved away from actually lacerating herself, now she abrades the insides of her arms.

    I have tried so hard to get her to talk to someone. She won't. She's stubborn, like me, and she thinks she should be able to handle everything herself, like me.

    Please get some help. Please. I don't think Sarah would ever injure herself to the point that her life would be in danger, although she might, but I do know that she suffers greatly, she has no self-esteem, she's majorly depressed, and it is so difficult to watch someone you love go through something so painful and not be able to help.
  9. by   researchrabbit
    I agree with Delirium -- ANYONE who is having trouble with this should seek help right away and continue to seek help.

    In the past I worked with patients who self mutilated (sometimes cutting so deep as to sever tendons -- requiring surgery).

    The cutting or burning often seems to be when emotional distress is the worst (physical pain takes the place of emotional pain).
  10. by   FragileRose
    My daughter used to self mutilate I could never understand what she was going through at the time. In reading the posts here I understand a little better.I tried many times to get her to seek professional help and she always refused.

    I pray that you seek the help you need.
  11. by   seewhiterabbit
    I am 20 now and I began when I was 9. I know exactly why it began and I know why I may get desires to do it at times. I have not cut myself in a very long time about a year and a half. I feel stable and like I have a lot going for me. It's not really a major concern for me right now, it would be if I was actually cutting myself. The main reason why I posted this thread is because sometimes I wonder why there is not more attention put on this problem that is everywhere in the US. So many girls do this and no one really understands.
    About two years ago when I was going through really hard times with this problem I called a psychologist I knew. He is a Christian psychologist and on the board of something in TEXAS where you go to do something. Anyway I told him what my problem was and asked him if he knew anyone that specializes with this. He said I wouldnt find anyone in Houston that would be able to help me. That's how bad it is. In a city as large as Houston there is really no one that has significant experience with this problem. I have this DSM-IV CASEBOOK. There isnt one case about self-mutilation.
    Self-mutilation is about CONTROL. The cutter feels that they have no control in their lives and their last resort is their body. Self-mutilation is a cry for attention and help. So why would someone need attention so badly??? Well there are lots of reasons but I know what got me started. From as young as I can remember my mother abused drugs, alcohol, and pain killers. Mixing them all together and so forth..foaming at the mouth..I never knew when my mother would be normal and then when she would not. One minute she would be sitting there normal..the net she would be passing out or slurring her words...When this happened, I felt like she was abandoning me. It finally got to the point where I didnt know what to do to get her attention. After one of her episodes she never really knew how bad it was...she couldnt remember anything....I always though "I wish I could videotape you" but we didnt have a videorecorder. Anyway I finally ended up cutting myself. But that didnt make her stop either.
    So self-mutilation eventually developed into a habit. A habit that occurred whenever I felt vulnerable or abandoned by something or someone close to me. Self-mutilation is an inability to COPE with problems and stress....just like eating disorders/drugs bla bla bla...it goes on and on in the way that humans degrade themselves.
    Anyway, early on I developed a very strong HATE for drugs and alcohol. I've never been high, never attempted to do drugs and never have been drunk..I even HATE smoking because my mother smoked like a chimney and I have asthma. Anyway, I feel like some of those cutting desires will always be there at times but I'm not going to let it suck me in and destroy my life. I have many things that I want to do and that I will do.
    Really to be quite honest, medication never helped me..it really made my life worse..really the only thing that has helped me is GOD. I know some of you may not agree with that but it is the only thing that can keep me strong and together. I feel that a lot of psychological problems are really SPIRITUAL PROBLEMS. One of the hardest things for me was to forgive my mother. I had a lot of bitterness and I had to let it go in order to grow NOW.
  12. by   renerian
    Shannon I am glad your doing better. Sounds like you had a horrific life.


  13. by   sanakruz
    I have encountered this many times.
    It's mostly females but I have seen many males also
    Time and again the feelings described can be summed up: "the pain on the outside is nothing compared to the pain on the inside." There is help available. "talk therapy" is very effective
    This is often called cognitive behavioral therapy. Meds may or may not be indicated.
    The correlation between eating disorders and self mutilation is an underlying sense of powerlessness and lack of validation of ones feelings and experiences.
    My 2 cents.
  14. by   sanakruz
    Shannon-I sent you a short pm.
    Last edit by sanakruz on Jan 10, '03