A teenager's story about self-harm

Yellow socks on person lying on bed with legs crossed

I made my mother cry, but...

I had a secret. Very few people knew about this secret, and I wanted it left that way. My psychiatrist and a few close friends knew - that was all. After a particularly bad couple of days dealing with some pretty deep stuff, again my secret became obvious to those around me.

After a visit by my psychiatrist I was encouraged to tell my mum. I didn't have the guts to tell her, but desperately wanted her to understand. So that Saturday night while at a friend’s place so I wasn't left alone, I took a major life changing step - I told mum my secret and she cried.

What is this secret you ask? I self-harm. When I am desperately down, I end up out of it totally and harm myself. As if hurting me is a pain I can cope with when the other feelings are out of control and I can't. I thought self harm was something that only I did. Something that was sinful, unforgiveable, that no-one could possibly understand. Little did I realise that many other people have experiences such as mine, and that I am not a total freak.

Sharing my secret

Well back to telling the mother. It was so very hard to tell her that while living with her and Dad for years and then for years away from them I had been self-harming. I sort of said "Mum, I have something I have to tell you - just listen please, just listen"... then I went on to tell her "Mum, you know how sometimes I get really really sad and really really down, well sometimes I feel so bad that I hurt myself to make it better"... she started to cry... she asked me why over and over again. I couldn't answer her whys, and they still ring in my ears.

She was desperately upset that she didn't realise when I was living at home, that I didn't get help earlier. My life changed from the time I told her. She now understands a little more about me. She is now more empathetic and takes me seriously when I tell her I am down. I had to reassure her that I was safe and had a procedure in place and people to call on to keep me safe. I knew she cared about me... but I didn't know to what extent.

I also didn't realise how understanding parents, that most of the time seem so foreign and distant, can be. Sometimes you just need to give them the chance to respond with love and acceptance and let them help you, even when you want to go it alone. I thought it would hurt my mum too much to know, but I was mistaken. Sometimes we underestimate our parents. Sometimes you just have to take the risk of rebuke to find the love hidden beneath.

Did you find what you needed?

  • Yes - Learn how to help your teenager seek medical attention for self-harm.