I discovered my 15 year old son has cut his arms himself. When confronted he said he was bored in class one day. I had my suspicions because he wore long sleeves in warm weather. When I confronted him about it I told him that it was his behaviour that made me realise something was amiss. He was virtually mute other than telling me the reason he hid under his clothes is because he knew I would ask questions when there was nothing to worry about. He was very convincing when he said he was simply bored and not unhappy. Other than that, it was just me saying my thing. Initially my confrontation was harsh - 'What is this?' grabbing his arm, I quickly composed myself to be calm and somewhat rational. It was compass he found in school, I explained the infection problem, I asked if they had learned about this in school and he had and admitted he would be worried if it were a mate of his, but remained adamant it was not out of 'not coping', unhappiness etc etc His mates apparently have all been concerned about him. Later that night after I had gone demented inwardly, I told him I loved him, I was not angry and I can help with anything as long as I know whats what. I told him that if he feels he can not talk to me, he should talk to his mates, but he should be talking to someone, I told him I was concerned and need to keep him safe because he is so precious to me. I told him that there wasn't one issue in his life that there is not a liveable with solution for nor is there anything he could think or say that I haven't thought myself. I have bipolar disorder and I have made the mistake of not sitting down with my kids and telling them about it. Although I am one of the lucky ones in so much as I do not go psychotic or seriously suicidal, I still realise that the changes in me are noticeable - chatty quiet, chatty quiet. My other mistake, the biggest, is that I'm not a demonstrative person, I love you's and hugs only happen on birthdays and Christmas - the guilt I feel is immense. In the lst 6 months he has started meeting mates and has come home very drunk on one occasion, tipsy on others. Other that these times they only meet in school, we are in an isolated village and he is not schooled here so has no local mates, but he continually texting and msning lots of mates. The music he listens to leaves a lot to be desired - I think it would be described as Emo music and he has the emo/goth look about him. Several of his MSNs are in my PC - there are a lot of fibs in there - "I'm drunk" (when he's not) - "Mum grounds me and lets me out" (not true) - 'My phone doesnt work I am using my mums' (not true). The most worrying to a girl who he has never met but she lives locally 'my mother hates me, we are so dissimilar' - 'I cut the top of my arms' - she then encouraged him to go onto his legs so no one can see it - he is telling her he is in trouble at school but I havent heard anything about it. I am so confused as to what to do for the best. I had a plan of action set up myself but now reading sites etc most are telling me to get him off to the GP. My plan of action was to have more 1 to 1 with him, cinema, macdonalds, and more as a family (there's me and 2 boys, the other one is younger). I also am going to sit them down and explain my bipolar disorder to them. Chat about the father they have not seen since I was expecting my youngest and the break up of my 2nd marriage 2 years ago. My theory being, if I want them to be open with me, I need to lead by example. It all feels too little too late. The cuts are superficial, he is an introvert child (always has been) and intelligent. So what do I do, keep an eye on him and if it happens again take him to someone - cant see him agreeing to that because he denies its self harm - or should I take him now. He had 'compassed' a star on his arm 6 months ago, I spotted it and told him 'don't start that nonsense' (yes I know, I could shoot myself) and he had told an ex girlfriend he was depressed and the doctor had put him on anti depressants (the medication thing is not true) - her mum rang me all concerned, I told him about her concern and he said he was fine and the girl had got it wrong. So there are signs when you put them all together but there are also a lot of things he has said to folk that arent true. What should I do?
It sounds like you and your son are going through a very distressing time. For support, you may like to call the free, 24-hour Parentline on 0808 800 2222. The person you speak to on the other end will also be a parent, and so will know how stressful it can get.
Please keep us posted on how you and your son get on.
The Gotateenager.org.uk team at Parentline Plus
It sounds to me like you are a very caring parent, and you are doing the right things. I also have an emo/alternative daughter who has caused us a lot of concern over the last year. I can't decide if the culture suggests to them that they should behave like this, or if kids with tendencies to be depressed and self-harm are attracted to it as it gives them an acceptable (amongst their peers) way to express themselves. I would not worry too much about what your son is writing on MSN, I think they write a lot of things just to make themselves sound more interesting and have something to talk about. I think your suggestion about spending more time doing family activities is a good one, I have tried this with my daughter over the last few months and it has proved really successful, I actually thought she didn't want to spend time with me, but now she asks if we can go out together. Her problems are not solved completely, but we talk a lot more and she lets me help her with things. Good luck.
I agree that the internet (MSN etc) have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Kids say lots of things on there that are not true. Facebook and Myspace have a lot to answer for with the problems they cause todays teens. I have an (almost) eighteen year old who is suffering from stress, depression and self harming. She isn't part of any EMO type culture but does lead a bit of a different lifestyle to many of her peers and has come in from some criticism through these web sites, to the point that she has now deleted her Myspace account. My problem is I seem to make things worse! She is currently applying to study musical performance. This puts a huge workload on to her with practice as well as other schoolwork. She spends Saturdays at a music college and works Sunday afternoons. She began having fits a few months ago and when we ruled out the usual medical causes it was diagnosed as stress for which she is now having counselling. I discovered she was self harming a few weeks ago when I saw great big scratches across her arm. she said it made her 'feel better'. I have tried not to confront over over this. I told her it upset me a lot to see it and asked her to please not do it again. I have removed the scissors from her room but am not sure if that was the right thing to do. My problem is how do I motivate her to continue without seeming to nag and bully her. I always seem to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I am constantly 'walking on eggshells'. I worry that if she doesn't get where she wants to be next year her whole world will fall apart. She spends long periods of time just staring into space or sleeping, when I try to encourage her to do something - go for walk even, this always turns into an argument but when we are getting on well we are very close. She tends to ignore other school work in the hope that it will go away concentrating on music. I feel I should let her get on with it in her own time but I find it very difficult to not get involved and then I appear too controlling.
I have a 16 year old son who self harmes and has been doing so for the past 3 years. I have got him counselling and he has told me to mind my own business it has nothing to do with me. I think for him it is a mixture of being an emo and depression. We had an argument the other week in front of his two younger sisters I had to take them both to school very upset and speak to thier teachers. He stayed at a friends that evening and came home the next day as if nothing had happened. I know it is good for our children to get help but why wont the experts help us in deeling with this problem. I try and get him to do family things but his college and friends mean more to him than spending time with the family. When I do involve him in family activities he makes excuses.