help me understand

  1. Hi, I'm fairly new to this and everyone seems soo nice. I was hoping you could help me.

    I just dropped my 14 year old daughter off at the hospital for cutting herself. She was using a razor blade on her arms and she has me scared to death. She has been moody and arguing with me about all kind of things. I'm feeling really guilty that I didn't see this coming at all. I figured she was 14 with raging hormones and when I talked to my freinds they would tell me that she was a typical teen.

    I guess my questions are: Is this fixable or is she always going to at risk for hurting herself and what can I do as her mom to help her?

    Some background, I am a single parent and her dad has come back into her life recently but only because he wants her to babysit for his kids that he has with his girlfriend. She is a good student and has freinds. She has started to dress "goth" and she died her hair black. Again, I just thought this was normal teen behavior. I knew that its hard dealing with adolescents but I guess I'm learning exactly how hard! When she's not mad at me, we get along very well. Thanks so much just for listening, its been real hard to deal with this.
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    About blue280

    Joined: Mar '03; Posts: 78; Likes: 4
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience in geriatrics


  3. by   NurseDennie
    ((((((Darn Mom))))))

    I'm sorry not to have any words of wisdom, because I don't understand, either.

    I'll be thinking and sending good thoughts and vibes as you deal with this.


  4. by   ShandyLynnRN
    I am not a psych nurse, but from what you have said, the cutting herself part atleast, sounds like she does have some type of psych disorder. Luckily, these days most of these disorders can be treated very effectively with counseling, meds, and a great support system. It sounds like you are doing the right thing for her, and you are obviously very concerned and seem to be on the right track to wanting to help her get better. The big thing with psych illnesses in my minimal experience with them is compliance. I send you a big hug, a fellow mommy's prayer, and wish you and your daughter lots of luck!
  5. by   canoehead
    I did the same thing at 14, and survived, and am doing fine now. I had a depression that kicked in at the onset of puberty. Not your fault at all, although it might help to make sure she is not hanging out with friends that reinforce her behavior. Also let her know that exercise releases the same endorphins, and you will be willing to give her lots of home renovation, heavy cleaning to do, if she feels so tense... I mean, you know, say it in a loving , constructive way...

    Best of luck.
  6. by   memphispanda
    I also was a self-harmer during high school. I'm fairly normal now. I never received any sort of treatment for it, I just removed the source of the stress (as much as possible) that was causing me to hurt myself. There is definitely hope for your daughter to heal.
  7. by   susanmary
    Help me understand this -- you "dropped" your daughter off at the hospital. What happened next? Your daughter is crying out for help, and she needs professional help now. You need to also speak with her guidance counselor and let him/her know what is going on in her life. When did the cutting start -- was this before her dad re-entered her life? Have her friends changed? How are her grades? She needs your love, support -- and she needs you to be her MOM -- don't worry if she doesn't like you all the time -- this is not the time in her life that she needs another best friend --she needs a MOM. It sounds like you are doing a great job, and do have a grasp of the wonders of teenagers. No one can tell you, with certainty, about her future. We can't tell this with any of our, or our children's futures. What I do believe, however, that your daughter will benefit from professional help. Good luck.
  8. by   blue280
    Thanks to all for the support. My daughter is home now and on Zoloft. She was more angry than depressed. We had some family sessions but her dad did not show. She will continue to be in therapy for a while until her anger at her dad gets somewhat resolved. All in all, this experience has drawn us closer together. Thanks again for the helpand support. You guys are great!
  9. by   lucianne
    Sometimes cutting is just something kids have to try out, especially kids who are into goth culture or who know other kids who cut. For others, it is a maladaptive coping mechanism. Self-injury is one of the diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder and biploar kids are known to cut themselves (although technically teens aren't diagnosed BPD due to their developmental stage, I've seen teens that scream BPD). Some people cut themselves when they start to feel particularly dissociative, because they feel they have no other acceptable means to express their anger or sadness, or because their emotional pain is so great that physical pain distracts them from it. It can be an addictive behavior. People who cut can be very secretive about it and hide their cuts or other wounds. Fortunately, most people who cut will eventually stop. Even if your daughter stops (or says she has stopped) she may start again if she's feeling stressed. I'm glad she's getting some help, but be prepared for this to possibly be a long process, but not necessarily a life-long one.

    There's a pretty good book on the subject: Cutting by Steven Levenkron.

    good luck
  10. by   pamie
    I work with the criminally insane population, almost all of the female pts. who are diagnosed with boarderline personality disorder are self-abusive in some way-most frequently "cutters". I would also like share that upwards of 90% of them have been sexually abused.
  11. by   lucianne
    Yes, self-mutilation is one of the diagnostic criteria of BPD. However, not all who self-mutilate have BPD, not all who self-mutilate have been sexually molested, and not all women with BPD are "criminally insane."
  12. by   CliveUK
    I think lucianne has given you a good answer - sometimes cutting is just one of those things teenagers do as they experiment with their identity - like smoking, drinking too much, huffing solvents &c. Most will try it once or twice and give it up once it hurts/makes them cough/makes them puke. Best to maintain a relaxed, low-key attitude about it, IMO.
  13. by   MoJoeRN,C
    A good psychiatric work up with appropriate testing (MMPI etc)is esential in determining the extent, depth, cause of the problem. Anger is a form of depression. Some anger out, hurt others, some anger in, hurt themselves, others have multiple medical complaints, all of these can be manifestations of depression. Absolute honesty is essential in getting proper treatment. I've had patients who were afraid to disclose honestly for fear of never getting out of the hospital if others knew what was really going on. Actually getting past this point is admitting the problem, getting past denial and actually getting into treatment for the problem. Being in a treatment facility is not necessarily getting treatment. Also family therapy is essential in learning how to properly react to situations with out making the situation worse or starting "old tapes" to start playing. Good luck. Be a listener, God gave us 2 ears and only one mouth for a reason. Unconditional love is important so she will know she has someone/someplace to go to.
  14. by   powmol
    hang in there, keep her going to therapy to help with the anger, and continue to involve her dad. She will remember your continual help , just as she will remember that her father did not. Good luck to you and her!!!