Support and resources for teen girl who is cutting?

We are in so much pain and are worried about our 14 year-old girl. We recently found out she has been depressed and cutting - albeit infrequently - since March 2020. She is also now struggling with adjusting to 9th grade and her bisexuality. We love her and support her unconditionally so were stunned as well as guilt-ridden, as she is a straight-A student, seemed happy, with friends, and showed no signs of depression. We simply had no idea. We are starting therapy for her this week, but just feel so adrift, sad, and alone. Does anyone have any experience with teens who have cut? Or know of any resources, support groups (maybe even for us parents), or other helpful sites? We would be so grateful. I would love to be able to envision a happy resolution, or something to hope for. Thanks in advance.

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I am so very sorry. Yes - our daughter hid her cutting from us from 7-8 grade. I only saw the evidence perchance when she was a freshman in high school, and she was ashamed and angry. Our daughter was also a straight A student with friends and no signs of depression. It turns out she just hid it well. She handled her depression with alcohol in 9-10 grade (also hid it incredibly well) and when we finally knew everything, we got help. She saw a psychologist ( with limited results) and then has been seeing a psychiatrist (with better results). Support, love and paying attention from us helped a lot. She is now 18, does not drink, stopped with the cutting and is very diligent with her meds. She is a college freshman and is doing OK. It was a long journey, and probably will still have some hiccups, but she is doing well at school, is much happier, more mature and I can finally stop worrying myself sick.  You are not alone. Get help, be patient, and support one another when one of you is feeling down - take turns being the strong one. That helped us a lot. No-one is to blame and it is a lot more common than you think. I wish you both strength.

Hi - I just wanted to say that we've been there, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Our daughter was doing that in about 7th grade - she was anxious and depressed and had very low self-esteem. Like your daughter, she has a loving, supportive family, wonderful friends, does very well in school, and has other interests and areas she excels in also. She isn't capable of hiding much, so we knew she was struggling, but it was horrible. I felt a little better when I learned that the cutting did not mean she was suicidal at all, and that it was more akin to doing drugs or drinking than actually wanting to seriously hurt herself. She has had regular therapy and is on medication, and as a junior in HS now she is infinitely happier and more self-confident than I could have imagined. She in many ways is just so much wiser than she would have been had it not been for this crisis, and more self-aware than most adults I know. It's a process, but there is absolutely hope for her and your family!

Our daughter started self harming at 12. At the time she was in an IOP (intensive outpatient program) due to anxiety, emotional dysregulation and school refusal. It was going well and then the program shut down suddenly when the core therapists left due to admin issues. Thats when she began the self harm. Honestly in retrospect  I believe we overreacted and led her down a very difficult path that ended up with long term residential treatment. Cutting and self harm is unfortunately way more common than any of us imagine. It is generally not indicative of suicidal ideation (though it can be linked) but a way to express emotional pain, release endorphins and calm (yep). I would start by getting her a good therapist and perhaps a family therapist and try not to read more about this. Ours is now home rarely if ever self harming and generally being ok a this time. Just remember to breathe. 

This is so hard but there is help. My teen was greatly helped by DBT therapy. Caitlin Burnham +1 (415) 439-3120 really helped my teen and also has some training in gender issues, if that’s part of the picture. We met her at Clearwater but she’s not there anymore. Clearwater has some downsides but it was helpful, despite those and is worth looking into. There is help out there. Things will get better!

Hi  - I am so sorry that she is experiencing this, and that you are, too. Clearly you love and support your daughter, and to discover that she has been suffering is so frightening and sad. My daughter has gone through much of this as well, and one thing that has been a huge support is a group called Love Your Nature. It's a once a month support group for teen girls mentored by two amazing women who create a safe space for our teens to talk about the multitude of issues they struggle with. As well, there are support sessions for parents scheduled over the year, which have been invaluable. It's not cheap, but there are scholarships available. Here is the link: https://www.loveyournature.com/  Currently the groups meet outside, masked and distanced.

I am happy to talk with you about our own experiences if you have interest. I wish you all the best. Hang in there - it does get better.

Hi, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and we are too. Our daughter started cutting around January, 2021. It’s incredibly sad and painful to watch your child hurt themselves, and the helplessness is excruciating. Clearwater Counseling in Oakland has support groups for kids and parents. A book for parents that I’ve found extremely helpful is Healing Self-Injury by Janis Whitlock. Please reach out if you’d like to talk. 

I am sorry that your daughter is suffering and that you are also in pain around her experience.  I hope that the therapy is helpful to her and to you.  You asked about other resources and I highly recommend the teen support groups and services that Emily Frost and Quetzal Francois offer through Love Your Nature.  Both of my tween/teen daughters participate in their monthly support groups and have received a lot of benefit from being in a group of adolescent girls (and gender expansive youth) that take place on a monthly basis.  The groups are not therapy, but the conversations are deep, compassionate and real and I know that they offer a lot of therapeutic benefit.  The teens have an opportunity to listen and be heard by each other and two incredibly skilled and empathic mentors (Emily and Quetzal). They include parent support meetings and also offer 1:1 parent/and or teen coaching if that is something you’d be interested in.  Both Emily and Quetzal have a vast understanding of how to talk to and relate to teens and young women – as well as their parents.  They have been so kind, attuned and helpful to our family in both times of greater difficulty and of ease.  I really believe they have a calling, and it shows in the lovingkindness they direct towards the girls/families they work with.  Check them out at WWW.LoveyourNature.com, and see if it might be of interest to you.  Wishing you and your family strength and peace. 

So grateful for this lovely community of parents - thank you for the incredible words of support and advice. It was hard to reach out for help as I felt shame, and worried about others judging my parenting - like where did I go wrong? I will check out Clearwater and Love Your Nature - they both sound like great resources. Thanks so much.