He carved into his arm...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by KarenB, May 22, 2008.

  1. KarenB

    KarenB New Member

    ..the words,"kill me." He explained that he has been having real bad nightmares lately. I asked what in the world that had to do with carving that into his arm, or even just carving his arm at all. He couldn't answer that because it can't be tied together, I guess. I told him a good way to get attention if he wants to is to do something nice for someone else. That way, because he's so self-centered, he can work on improving himself and help someone at the same time. I thought I would give him something to think about. The kids at school are calling him "Emo," because of what he did. I don't think that's the attention he was hoping for.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This is a big problem with a lot of kids these days. I suggest getting him help for this right away. It is my understanding that it easily becomes a habit and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to get them out of it. Not only the carving, but the words he carved concern me to.
  3. Mitzi Paws

    Mitzi Paws New Member

    Hi Karen. I'm sorry to hear about your son. I agree with klmno. I would get him into the doctor asap. My 12 year old daughter threatened to commit suicide this past weekend and after seeing a psychiatrist today she added prozac to what she is already taking because she said that her medications obviously aren't working. She also said that she sees some depression in my daughter along with her anxiety and ADHD. I hate to add medications but when they are doing these type of things I guess they need something tweaked. Hang in there! I know how you feel. Sending hugs and prayers your way!!
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    It could very well be the medications he's taking. Zoloft can cause disinhibition, aggression, suicidal and homicidal ideation. You need to talk to your podc ASAP (as in tonight) or possibly consider an ER evaluation at a psychiatric hospital.

    If it's attention-seeking behavior in any way, it's a cry for help.
  5. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Yeah, antidepressants (Zoloft) can cause disturbed dreams and self harming along with that hostility that often results in the ODD diagnosis.

    FWIW, my son self mutilated only while on an antidepressant. Not before, not after.

    And did you know that long term chronic use of amphetamine/amphetamine-like drugs (Concerta) can cause depression?
  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    It's sad to hear that he is so distraught. How deep did he cut? Is it possible that you can help him keep from having a scar? Neosporin can really help, but there are specific products for reducing scars as well. That would be a terribly hard thing to live with his entire life.

    Will he be moving on to high school next year, or will he still be at middle school? It would be nice if he could get some help this summer and then move on to a different school where he could make a fresh start without all of the kids knowing his history and holding him to his pain.

    I must be behind the times. What's "emo"? Whatever it is, no one wants a label that reflects the most difficult time in their lives. My heart aches for him.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Witz, "emo" is first a kind of music, and second, a fashion style/way of thinking among those who like that kind of music.

    Here is a useful link:

    And here is what the kids are teasing him for (from the above link):

    "In recent years the popular media has associated emo with a stereotype that includes being emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angsty. It is also associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide."

    Although I realise that antidepressants can aggravate anxiety & depression (paradoxic reaction) I see kids as far more than a blob of protoplasm to be treated by adapting medication titration.

    Think - why do we medicate our kids at all? Why do we even have this website? It is because, first and foremost, our kids have problems that go above and beyond the average. And why is this? Many reasons, all combining endogenous and exogenous causes. Some of our kids have problems which respond to medication; some of our kids have emotional problems either as a primary cause or as a secondary cause. But above all - even if your child has a problem which can be entirely laid at the door of chemical imbalance, the problem has now gone beyond merely modifying the brain chemicals with medication, because social factors and environment are now involved.

    difficult children are often much more unhappy that "normal" kids. It's harder for a difficult child to be the model student, to be the popular student, to be the kid always chosen to get up on the podium and welcome the latest dignitary to the school. Our kids don't fit in. And this hurts. Inside, they'd love to be able to do this sort of thing, to be the jock, or the brain who is also popular, to be the good-looking person pined after by all the attractive kids.

    But generally, our kids are not the popular ones, the good-looking ones, the socially adept ones, the academically brilliant ones.

    Under such circumstances, depression is almost inevitable. In fact, a difficult child who doesn't have depression at some level is not only the exception, he's probably lying.

    If there is a medication factor in there making it worse - crikey, not good. But merely adjusting medications is not likely to be the whole answer.

    difficult child 1 & easy child 2/difficult child 2 have both been serious cutters. I'm not sure, easy child may have also been cutting, but if she did it wasn't much and it wasn't for long. Her best friend WAS a cutter, but otherwise was not a difficult child. She was simply a very unhappy girl with a difficult home life and desperately needing either one of her parents to pay enough attention to her to get her some help. She was stressed, mostly by a difficult home life, and not always coping well.

    There can be many reasons for a kid to be stressed. Home life can be a factor. Struggling at school is a common problem. Social problems - a biggie, especially with difficult children.

    I probably did the wrong thing with my cutters. As I couldn't get any admission out of them, I ignored it. I tried to get help from their specialist, but especially with easy child 2/difficult child 2, she refused to acknowledge she had a problem. At least with difficult child 1, he admitted to being depressed. His first girlfriend broke up with him and he was suicidally depressed for two years. She was a lovely girl, but he just wasn't socially mature enough to sustain the relationship as they got older. He accepts this now, but couldn't at the time. And not only would he cut his arm, but he would carve words and symbols into himself.

    difficult child 1 had already been taking Zoloft to try to reduce his anxiety. It had seemed to be helping a bit, but when he was suicidal I got him to the specialist who doubled the dose of Zoloft. I know it is a concern in some cases of suicidal ideation, but it helped difficult child 1.
    As his mood improved, the doctor reduced the dose. Since then we've tried to cut difficult child 1's Zoloft out entirely but he finds his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) coming back big-time if he cuts back past a certain point.

    Although I've known two people in the last 12-18 months who suicided soon after being put on Zoloft, and I know the concerns and frankly share them, I've also seen how much help it's been for difficult child 1.

    High school is a horrible time for a difficult child. It's bad enough for the average teen, but a kid who struggles and still can't cope, it's awful. Some kids cut because they feel so absolutely dreadful inside, they can't understand why it doesn't show. Sometimes they feel numb, and want to see some outward sign so they know they are still capable of feeling. When they see blood flowing, then they know that feeling pain is appropriate.

    He needs help. He needs to know it's OK to ask for help.

    I'm surprised the other kids knew about it - my kids kept it secret. Maybe other kids knowing is actually a good sign. it certainly makes it easier for you to say, "I know about this, I am concerned for you, I am getting you help."
    I suspect in his own way he would be relieved if you did this, because he's desperate for ways to cope. Cutting is a coping strategy. It's not a good one, but these kids cut, to try to help themselves cope.

    In the meantime - two things he can do, as an alternative to cutting.

    1) Have an elastic band round his wrist. Not too tight, you don't want circulation cut off. But he needs to be able to pull back on the band and flick his arm with it, hard. It will cause a raised red welt and it will hurt. Next time he wants to cut, get him to flick the elastic band instead.

    2) To put a message there if he feels a need - draw on himself with a RED felt pen. The red gives a visual cue like blood, but without the tissue damage. The pen gives some artistic control, it's easier to control than a knife.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 especially, has permanent scars on her arms. A couple which healed badly are raised and thick. Others are paler, and criss-cross her inner forearm. She will be able to show them to her grandchildren. These will never fade. But she no longer hides them, and the wedding dress she has chosen has no sleeves. I consider this a healthy sign.

    The methods I've mentioned will work best if he really wants help, if he really wants to stop cutting. but if he's enjoying the drama too much, he won't be ready. I don't think that's happening here, if you were able to know about this.

    I hope he's ready to change, to move on to a better way of coping than cutting. He needs to know he's not a loser, not a failure - the emo culture seems wrapped up in self-absorption and this sense of being one of the anonymous crowd of failures and he needs to know he can be a huge success. he just has to want it.

    A sense of direction for his future can also help - if he knows what he wants to do when he leaves school, and if he can see progress towards this aim, then this might also help.

  8. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with all the previous posters, Karen. There could be many causes for this behavior, but one thing is clear, he needs to be seen by the doctor as soon as possible.

    I can only imagine how upsetting this was for you. Hugs.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Although some more disturbed kids may openly cut because it's "in" with their friends (my daughter did), it is NOT normal or something most teenagers do. My daughter ended up a serious cutter and it was very hard for her to stop. She calls it an obsession. I had a friend who'd cut as a kid and she agreed with my daughter--it gets very hard to stop. Also, his nightmares may be scaring him so much that he is getting suicidal. Prozac made my daughter pull a knife on herself. Prozac is related to Zoloft. Watch the antidepressants and call the psychiatrist ASAP. This is not just a fad--I kind of get scared when people say this--your child desperately needs help. It may just be the medications, but you need to get her to a doctor. Good luck.
  10. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Sorry you are facing this situation. The message he carved and the mention of bad dreams is alarming and would prompt me to seek help immediately.

  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I don't know if you are able to do this, financially, or not. When M was about that age, I got myself clued in as to what kind of clothes the more preppy boys were wearing, hairstyles, etc. I went to Target and Old Navy where I could get relatively inexpensive clothes and got him a couple of new pairs of pants, three or four shirts, some boxers and t-shirts, new shoes at the outlet, and a good haircut. The girls thought he was so good looking, which was something entirely new for him. He felt so much better about himself, it really made life more livable for a while. I doubt that I spent more than $200. It was well worth it.
  12. Arttillygirl

    Arttillygirl New Member

    I feel your pain. Just as my 17 yr old son was looking soooo much better he
    carved the f*** word into his arm.
    My psychiatrist said to see a counselor but wasn't too alarmed. My son won't see a counselor.
    He isn't returning to the private school he was attending. None of the people there want to talk to him anymore so he is alone this summer.
    We have him signed up for an early college program but now I am getting signals he doesn't want to do it. He wants to go to our public high school but it is so rough we've said no.
    We are ready to show him the door if he continues writing rap songs with awful lyrics etc. and post them on his myspace for all the private school community to see. I work there and he has a sister there who are trying to salvage our reputations.

    I don't have a good feeling for his future. I'd send him to a boarding school if I could find one. We'd even use his college funds since that looks like it's not really going to happen anyway.
  13. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Attillygirl -- Your psychiatrist said your son should see a counselor or your son's psychiatrist?
  14. Arttillygirl

    Arttillygirl New Member

    My son's psychiatrist.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    How's he doing?
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    My son cut for quite a while. It is addictive. It releases endorphins and can produce a happier feeling that is very addictive.

    Zoloft has triggered violence and very scary violent thoughts in quite a few of the difficult children on this board, esp the male ones. It seems to occur a few MONTHS after they are at the therapeautic dose. It does go away, but it takes quite a while after you stop the zoloft.

    You ALSO need to get him in to a therapist and tell his psychiatrist.

    While my son stopped being violent to others, he still cut long after the medications were stopped because it is an addiction, and like other addictions it changes brain chemistry so it is a hard fight to stop. My son says he still fights the desire to cut several days a week. It used to be he fought it daily, so it is an improvement. this is a YEAR after he stopped. But he cut for over a year before we found out.

    PLEASE do whatever it takes to stop this NOW. It is NOT just him acting in an unintelligent manner, it is a sign he needs help NOW.

  17. KarenB

    KarenB New Member

    We saw the psychiatrist yesterday. He didn't think the issue was anything that needed action. He asked difficult child about it, how he did it and if it was superficial. He asked me if I thought he was a danger. I honestly think it was an attention getter.

    Zoloft is going to be stopped. We're also switching to Ritalin from Concerta, and starting behavioral therapy.
  18. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Self mutilation is an anxiety release.

    If he was trying to get attention by doing that it's because he's scared and wants someone to fix him.

    I think labelling unpleasant behaviors as "attention getting" minimizes the neurobiological problems our kids have and just writes it off to them being brats.
  19. KarenB

    KarenB New Member

    I'm not calling my son a brat or labeling him. I'm not attaching negativity to my words either. Obviously he needs attention and help, which is why we saw the psychiatrist yesterday. I'm not dismissing what he did. I'll keep a close eye on him. I'm sure he has anxiety, and quite a few of his behaviors reflect that.

    I sent you a PM a while back. My words are being misinterpreted, or perhaps this isn't the right forum for me.
  20. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    You labelled his cutting as attention seeking (i.e., "attention getter"). Brat, bad, manipulative.....call it what you will, labelling behavior "attention getting" is minimizing the neurobiological causes and making it an act of pure choice. "Attention seeking behavior" has certain connotations that "cry for help" doesn't have. Nor does it acknowledge the neurological aspects of the behavior (i.e., the feeling of release that comes from cutting).

    Look, I've been there done that. My son self-mutilated by burning, freezing (canned air), cutting himself with paper clips, even glass he picked up in the street when he was most stressed while taking an antidepressant. While there are some drama queen types who do it for show, it distresses me to see a difficult child already being medicated for a neurobiological disorder having his self-mutilation being dismissed as "attention getting". That diminishes the severity of his condition. It makes his behavior an act of choice. When you do that, you fail to appreciate how he's suffering.