How Self Injury Affected My FamilyMar 06, 2023
Self-injury is a really tough thing to handle as a parent. Why is it not All you want to do is fix it. Fixed the injuries, fix the scars. And hold your towels and tell them it all be better. But the problem is it's not. Self-injury is something that. Children and young adults do this because they feel their lives are out of control. At least, that's what I've learned with my daughter. Wish I could understand all the reasons that she does it. But I never will. No new paragraph
Self-injury started in our house. A long time before I knew about it. You know, I would go on the shopping run to target and I seemed to buy Band-aids every week and I didn't really think anything about it. But. I was curious, but not curious enough to bug my daughter and ask why we need so many Band-aids. So, this continued on for. I have no idea. I don't know how long, which is a terrible thing to say. But my daughter was hiding it so well that I didn't know about it.
One evening as I'm talking to a client out in California. My daughter comes out of her room and says, Mom, I need to talk to you. And I'm like, OK, just let me finish this call and we'll talk in a few minutes. And she turns me around and she goes, mom, I need to talk to you now. And I'm like. OK. I'm sorry. I need to go. I have an emergency here. Got to figure out what's going on. And I'll either call you back tonight or we'll talk in the morning and my daughter goes, it'll be morning and I go. I just got to go. And we stood there in front of the countertop. And my daughter says to me, mom. I have an eating disorder. Kind of looked at her and I'm like, how do we know that? And she goes. Mom. Do you know that I exercise in my room all day long? And I'm like, no. Do you notice how much I do or don't eat? No. And. I sit there as a parent. As a mother and was like. Our lives are out of control, and I don't even know it. That moment was so heartbreaking for me. Because I then looked at my child and said do I need to call an ambulance have you committed to the hospital? And she says no. I said, can I trust you to go to bed? I will start making phone calls in the morning to get you an eating disorder program that you can start going to. And she said yes. And then she goes, mom, I need to show you something else. And I'm already just falling apart and just dying inside. And she takes me into her room and sits down on her bed. And pulls up her, her sweats or I'm not sure what she had on. And she shows me the cuts that she has on her legs. The words that she's put in. The. The cuts are so deep that I wonder how badly they're going to scar, and should she have gone to get stitches to close it up? And I just looked at them and I'm like. Are you at least cleaning them after you do this to make sure you don't get an infection? And she goes sometimes and I OK, I said. I'm not going to tell you to stop, because you're not going to stop. And by this time, I'm crying. And I said but. You have to do this in a healthy way, she goes. Mom, this isn't healthy, I said. I know it's not healthy, but you have to do it in a healthy way to make sure that you don't get sick. And then I looked at her and I said, or is that the object? You'll get sick and die. And we just sat there for hours and hours talking about these things. Her trying to explain to me the cutting, her trying to explain to me the eating and. And trying to explain to me her feelings. It was so, so overwhelming.
I'm one of those parents or people. That is just research and research to find the answers and the solutions. I spent hours after I talked to my daughter online trying to find the best eating disorder. Places trying to figure out how I could get in. Get her in there as fast as possible. Examinations for what? Whatever they did to get the kids in there. And the next morning I spent hours calling doctors and calling places. To get the right referrals and. Take advantage of anything I could. To get her into. In intake to see what we needed to do. Purely by chance.
I called the Emily program. And they had had a cancellation and I could bring her in that afternoon. That afternoon was as bad as her telling me what was going on, and having the professionals tell me what was going on. More than what she had told me. And talking to me about the treatment plan we were going to have to go through. And how we started and how we went and how we. Stopped the behaviors. Because her problems can never be healed, they can go into remission. And she may never do them again. Or she can be triggered by something and go right back into a pattern of behavior that is unhealthy. By the end of the school year, we were going to therapy. Two times a week. And that was just my daughter. I was going to therapy separately. The other two days of the week and we had one day of the week without therapy. As part of my therapy, I went into DBT. To learn. Dialectical behavioral therapy. Using this. I got some things in my mental toolbox to help me. Work on some of these problems, how to be mindful of what's going on, how to step away and collect myself rather than being overwhelmed and not having the ability to handle things.
At the same time, my daughter was in talk therapy. Just plain talk therapy. We went to see a therapist she could talk to. We were going to a nutritionist. We were going to the regular doctor. Because of her disorder, she developed a heart murmur. We were getting tested via all sorts of blood work all of the time. That summer. She was enrolled in a day camp situation. Where she went every day. And had all these skills she used she needed to use. She developed an ability to. Eat plain and simple. She needed to eat. And know how to exercise properly. And how do you find a way to find control in her life in a different manner and not cut? That continued for the whole summer. That was tough, but it was necessary. So, I handled it with as much grace as I could. Taking her to Saint Paul every week. Every day of the week. To do her therapy. To do her eating. To come to meet with her therapist for us to go to family therapy. For Brianna to go to occupational therapy.
For me, as an adult, this whole situation took on a new way of handling life. My child's at age of well, 16 at this point. Was started to consume everything in our life. I changed my grocery shopping habits. I changed the eating habits in our home. I accepted the difference in sleep patterns. I had to accept that I don't want to say a temper tantrum, but the outbursts of frustration. And this went on for a long time. A long time. The following school year they changed and put her into an after-school program. Wednesdays were family days. We came for a Family dinner. To watch how the Emily program was having our children eat, what type of food to put out and what kind of portions to put out, and how to express that they needed to eat without pushing. Learning with other parents how they were handling this program and how they were transitioning.
And in the midst of that program, I realized. I was doing DBT again. So, this was DBT class#2 for both of us. So having both of us having these DBT skills kind of brought it back into our life. The tone of frustration down in kind of a way for us to handle things. I love working with Mary because one of the things I've learned from Mary explains there are other skills and things that you can use that aren't necessarily just. Normal therapy base I wish so hard that during this situation I had known about TRE my daughter and I do exercises that would help us regulate, help us breathe, help us come out of the madness of the moment. And move into another behavior or another headspace.
BLC is a great place for me to come and learn the things that Mary has the ability to offer us. Fact that I now understand The Anxiety Loop. So that I can use the information for myself.
My daughter is 26 And thriving, she graduated from high school. She graduated from college. She lives on her own. Every once in a while, I kind of look at her behavior and I'm like. When was the last time you ate? Three days ago, how about if we go out to dinner? When was the last time you did this or did you look at the triggers that she has and just simply asking? If she's being affected by them at the moment. And it's lovely to have the relationship with my daughter that I never thought we would have because I wasn't sure how we were going to come out of it. At a certain point, I hope that every parent can find a way to get through that and get their child to a point where they can live on their own, even if they live on their own with help. It's OK. Our kids are our kids. And we have to do what we have to do to take care of them. Just putting these feelings on paper. Is helpful for me. Because, again, it's a time for me to address what happened in life and look at the success that we've had.
In October we celebrate how many years it's been since my daughter last cut herself.