Jackie sees herself as a strong person and she stresses the importance of self-reliance in finding a way to cope with her teenage daughter’s self-harming.
Jackie discovered her daughter’s self-harming by accident when she noticed marks on her arm one evening. Her daughter refused to talk about it at first. They were both very shocked, Jackie to discover it and her daughter to have been found out. Jackie talks about her daughter always pushing’ to grow up and be independent and being extremely frustrated by life, sometimes to the point of hitting herself when she was as young as three. Jackie decided not to tell her husband about the self-harming because she felt he wouldn’t be able to cope with it. He found out by accident, when he noticed marks on his daughter’s arms when they were on holiday.
Jackie describes the impact on the whole family as destructive. In addition to self-cutting, her daughter was drinking, taking drugs and was sexually active, all under the age of 16. All this behaviour led to many arguments and rows.
Jackie decided not to consult a GP about her daughter’s self-harming, partly because she expected to be put on a long waiting list for counselling. She looked on the internet for private counselling services but her daughter decided she wasn’t ready for it. Ultimately, encouraged by a schoolteacher, Jackie’s daughter asked her to arrange some counselling sessions, which she attended and found beneficial.
Jackie has told very few people about her daughter’s self-harming. She has told some friends, one of whom also has a daughter who self-harms. She gets support from chatting with her friends, not just about self-harm. Jackie describes herself as a strong and self-reliant person. She helps herself to cope by running with her dogs, through meditation and natural healing remedies. She and her husband also try to provide a warm family environment in which they spend quality time’ with their children.
Jackie found some useful information on the internet, particularly from one American website. But, in general, she feels there isn’t enough information available and, in particular, there is not enough information and help available locally. She thinks it would be helpful if there could be informal spaces where people who self-harm, and parents, could go to talk about their experiences and their problems.
Jackie says that her daughter has turned things round’ and hasn’t self-harmed for some time. She helps herself by writing. But Jackie is fearful of her being away from home at University and possibly returning to self-harm if she experiences adverse life events. Her messages to other parents are to always be on your guard’ and to rely on your own resources as well as looking for outside help.