Question about cutting...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This is really bugging me but I could be over-reacting. (It does happen occasionally LOL). Ok- there's a boy that difficult child goes to school with and they had a couple of things happen last year- first, when difficult child "disappeared" in the spring, it turns out that he had gone to that boys house. I called police because I didn't know where difficult child was-he had gone because he had gotten upset with me over something and he had been having a rough time because his only real friend - (well, they couldn't hang around each other anymore since they went in someone's shed and got arrested). difficult child was on probation and grounded by me when this happened.

    Anyway, through that incident, I learned that this boy (the new one) had a habit of smoking cigarettes and his parents were nothing to be impressed over. When I called over there looking for difficult child, the dad told the boy to hang up on me- and I wasn't being rude or accusing- then, after the cops came and difficult child came home about the same time, the boy was calling over hear so the cop got on the phone and told the boy to put his mom on the phone. Based on my conversation with her and what difficult child said she "looked and acted like", I wasn't left impressed. I told difficult child he needed to stay away from this boy, and I think he did.

    Then, difficult child found out about a drug deal about to happen at school (involving a "backpack full" of pot). It was the boy planning on buying it- difficult child turned all of them in. This was right after he'd told me that he had been having temptations about trying drugs, so I was very thankful that he made this choice, but of course, I tend to think the boy is who lead difficult child to that temptation.

    I'm sure difficult child didn't hang around the boy this summer because he was either on detention, on the monitor, or on vacation all but one week this summer.

    Now, this school year, difficult child noticed scars and fresh cut marks on this boy's arm. Actually, I guess a bunch of boys were talking about them, difficult child was with them when someone asked the boy if he cut himself, the boy said yes showed the others. difficult child couldn't get to the principal easily, so he asked me to email her so he could tell her something- this was after I reassured him that no one would get in trouble, this was about intervention. (He had seen a couple of people in psychiatric hospital last spring with major cutting issues and the scars to prove it). Anyway, he reported this to higher ups at school last week.

    Today, difficult child comes home from school with thin red ink marks on his arm- left arm, he's right handed. I said "son, why would you draw marks on your arm that looks like you cut yourself". He laughed, I told him that wasn't very nice to go around school with the issues going on at school. He talked about how all the other kids asked him about it. I looked at it closer and said it looked like maybe he HAD scratched or tried to cut himself. He swears no, I made him wash the ink off, and he does have superficial scratches on his arm. They are very small- like maybe it could have been from out playing yesterday. But my gut tells me that they looked too parallel- not random- to be from playing. And if they were from playing, would he have drawn on top of them to make them more noticeable?

    So, I guess the question is- any chance he was just experimenting and won't do this again? Or am I starting down the road with a new problem? What do I need to watch for? As I mentioned in another thread, he's been hypomanic not depressed lately. But, he and the "older" friend have started being friendly again (not the boy with all the problems, but difficult child's old best friend), and difficult child really has some issues about rejection and acceptance and feeling like he has friends. If he just did this for other kids' attention, is it likely to turn into a habit? What other areas might he start cutting to keep it hidden that I need to check? Any other insights or suggestions?

    PS difficult child and "new" boy are 13 yo- older friend is 14 yo but they are all in 8th grade. Older friend and "new" boy with problems do not hang around together. difficult child has told me it is "emo" people who do this- and describes emo to me as taking goth a step further. Pardon my ignorance, but I don't know anything about emo. I know that goth means they like the black clothes, nails, etc. Anyway- difficult child is not goth, and the school does not allow excessive black clothes worn- you can't wear black every day to school.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Google "emo". I had to. When thank you took cutting to a whole new level this winter, Diva overheard a phone conversation I had with staff and her comment to me was "so thank you's gone emo, hunh?". Was the first time I'd heard the phrase.

    Bottom line, I personally wouldn't flip out too bad over this one incident. It could be exposure to peers that cut, or experimentation. With thin scratches, it doesn't sound like true cutting to me, but I'd definitely keep an eye on him. He might try it again. I don't think there's a way to predict. If it happens again, more than a scratch, then I would address it very forcefully with psychiatrist.

    I don't know. Wish difficult children came with crystal balls, you know?

    Edited to add that when staff did become aware that thank you was cutting, I had him admitted pronto. I hadn't seen him for well over a month and he had really deteriorated, psychologically as well as physically. He'd obviously been cutting for several weeks at that point with fresh and newly-healed wounds up and down his arms, much more than a scratch.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    So- it's pretty much always on the arms? Ok, I take it I should just not even bring this up to difficult child again- unless of course, I see it happening more. I thought they did this because they think it relieves pain or frustration. What difficult child did seems to me to be for attention at school, and maybe from me too.
  4. BoxieLady

    BoxieLady New Member

    I know I am new here but I went through the cutting phase with my 17 yr old several years back. She was at a friend's house when the mom called me and asked me could I come over, she needed to talk to me.

    I knew this couldn't be good.

    Come to find out, they were cutting. I was devastated. She swore she wouldn't do it again, that it was something new.

    Well, she just got good at hiding it. She started cutting her legs (top thigh area) so I could not see it. I started finding odd things in her room while she was in knives, pocket knives, other sharp objects that could be used, toilet paper, etc.

    Please keep an eye open. Thankfully, her phase didn't last long.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Toilet paper??
  6. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I'm assuming toilet paper to stop the bleeding? I dunno.

    thank you first cut in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) #1, probably in 2002. At that time, I felt very confident that it was more experimentation and also a way to flip out staff and us (he made a lovely sunburst design on his wrist, with a lead pencil no less - argh!). He was 11 or 12 at the time. We instituted a full body inspection for a couple of months after that to make sure that it wasn't a continuing issue, plus he was only allowed access to crayons (again, Residential Treatment Center (RTC) setting so it was possible to have a lot of control).

    His episodes this year were definitely different. Not suicidal gestures really but we're talking probably more than a dozen long cuts around his forearm made with a broken plastic hanger. He did say that the cutting made him feel better, which is completely beyond my comprehension, but he was absolutely severely depressed at that point so maybe somehow it does make sense.

    My understanding is that if they try to hide it, the thighs are the next choice. I guess really it could be anywhere. Not much comfort.

    I probably wouldn't bring it up again unless you see more signs of it but that's just me.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, you've been very helpful!
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You can cut almost anywhere. Objects used are almost anything.

    The reasons can be for various reasons but mostly to relieve inner pain and confusion. To get the inner pain out into the open. Its confusing. There can be a bit of manipulation and attention seeking.

    Have you ever looked into borderline?
  9. BoxieLady

    BoxieLady New Member

    sorry, yes, the toilet paper to stop the bleeding. I would find a roll in her room or even small pieces with blood on it.

    I agree, don't make a deal about it unless you think it's still happening.
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Only to see if I thought it fit my mother. I don't know much about it- I assumed difficult child might be a bit young for that diagnosis (similar to conduct disorder normally being diagnosis'd when over age 18). Maybe I should read about it..

    Re. the cutting, my difficult child is the type that could possibly start doing it if he thought kids at school were getting into it- it could get him friends and attention and it's not illegal. I think he would be the type to do it where he could show people- at least right now. (Think about it- these were barely visible, superficial scratches and he went over them with a red ink pen to make them look like fresh, bleeding cuts.) I hope so, if it does continue- because I have no male here who can check places he'd never let me check at this age.

    I'll try to keep my head about this- he already knows how I feel because we discussed it when we both saw kids at psychiatric hospital who were cutters. He will be admitted asap- and he even agreed (ok that was 6 mos ago) that they needed some help and he said he didn't understand it.
  11. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I don't think they necessarily consider borderline right off the bat with cutting anymore, Janet. The younger generation have made the cutting acceptable within their circle of friends - the emo thing. It might be hidden from parents, but it's not hidden from friends like it would have been when we were kids.

    I know that it used to be that cutting or any form of SI was a guarantee for a borderline diagnosis, but I don't think that's the case in the younger kids.

    Since they were very superficial, I wouldn't make an issue of it, but I would keep a wary eye open. He may have just been trying to figure out why his friend would do it. Then, if he had small scratches, he may have tried to cover them up with the pen because he was embarrassed or hiding it from you.

    Like I said, I'd keep a wary eye open.
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    He was asking about that over the weekend. Stupid me told him it was because they think it relieves pain. Let's just hope he feels more pain than he relieves.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Conduct Disorder is NOT diagnosed after 18! It is diagnosed before 18.

    Heather I wasnt implying that he was borderline simply because of the cutting. As you and I know, borderline carries many of the same symptoms of bipolar and depression. When I hear stories about problems arising the neglect or absence of a parental unit, I always worry about the possibility of borderline at least being comorbid.
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I stand corrected!

    I was reading about borderline personality on the board's definitions. It does appear to be similar to bipolar. Just speculating, but maybe it hasn't come up with psychiatrist yet because of difficult child's "flux" in symptommatic behavior and the "length" of moods, at least so far. I wouldn't be shocked at all if his diagnosis changes or gets added to as he goes through his teen years.