I am 18 years old and I am still living with my parents. Although the topic I picked was self-injury there are also many other factors in my life that I find hard to deal with. I have a very bad relationship with my father. He doesn't make an effort to talk to me and when I try to talk to him he ignores me, just stares into space like he is in another planet. When he does talk to me, it is when I have done something wrong and he will get angry over the smallest things. I get so upset and angry that when no one is at home I cut my legs. I don't know why and I can't help it, I just keep doing it until it bleeds quite badly and I don't feel angry any more. I think it has a lot to do with my Nan (My dad's mum), she is a cruel, twisted lady and I hate her. She has done a lot of unforgivable things to our family. She made her own daughter commit suicide and tried to kill herself twice before and once blamed it on my dad and the other time on my mum and me. But on top of that I get stuff from my mum, she will say things about other members of my family and tell me not to repeat what she has told me. Other members of my family do this to me also and I'm finding it too hard to cope any more.
I need help. I cut my legs and I don't know what to do to stop it. There is a also a history of suicide and mental and physical abuse in my family which I am constantly reminded of and see around me at home all the time, I find this so hard to deal with. Please help me.
It's clear to me that not only do you have no support from your family, but that your family is the main source of your suffering. I think your family is in trouble and so are you. The good news is that you're articulate, and know enough about what's going on to talk about it sanely. Keep reaching out for help and keep talking, so that you can survive all this and come out of it the sane, healthy person I think you are. It's clear to me that you must go outside your family to get the help you need.
Hang in there, J. Reaching out and telling your truth is your hold on to your sanity, so keep doing it. You need to confide in someone sane who can help you get the help you need. Do you have any friends with sane parents? Or what about a counselor from your current or former high school? Or even a sympathetic neighbor, or pastor in your area?
Hurting yourself is a form of acting out your anger and aggressive responses to the neglect and violations against you, and to the frustrating communications around you. I'm here to tell you that your feelings are totally valid, but of course, hurting yourself is not the most desirable way to get those feelings out. Talking them out will help.
J, hang in there. Prove your family wrong, and defy your family's unhealthy tendencies, by doing whatever it takes to stay sane in desperate times. Use your anger to stay sane! Defy the insanity around you by refusing to hurt yourself any longer!
Find the right adults to talk with about all this, and make it through!
This question was answered by Andy Bernay-Roman, RN, MS, LMHC, NCC, LMT. He is a nationally certified counselor in private psychotherapy practice in South Florida working with individuals, couples, and families with a deep-feeling therapy approach. Andy's medical background as an ICU nurse contributes to his success with clients with difficult medical diagnoses and/or chronic physical conditions. He also serves as head of the Psychological Support Department of West Palm Beach's Hippocrates Health Institute.
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