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madelinemc97
madelinemc97 asks:
Q:

My older sister is cutting herself

My 15 year old sister has been cutting herself. its not what you think though.... she is a very smart, funny, and pretty girl.... she actually used to be my role model. I've noticed the marks on her arm before, and she told me that a dog down the street did it to her. The marks healed so i thought that that was the end of it. But today my mum found out that it was actually her cutting herself. I don't know what to do. My mum is bringing her to see a doctor about it tomorrow, but i am still very worried about her. Depressing runs in my family (my father actually killed himself because of it), thankfully i don't have depression, but i am extremely worried about my sister, and i am afraid that she might do the same thing that my father did. I have been trying hard to figure out why she does it, but after hours of crying i can still come up with no answers. I really want to help, her and for her to return to her fun-loving self. Please help me... i just want my big sister back...
In Topics: Teen issues, Cutting
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Jan 7, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

I am very sorry to hear that your sister is struggling. It must be very difficult to see her suffer and not know how to fix the problem.

I am glad to hear that your mother is taking your sister to see a doctor about her cutting. It is very important that your sister begin to address her cutting, as she is clearly overwhelmed with stress right now.

Individuals who cut themselves are typically flooded with intense negative feelings with no positive way to manage them (e.g., belly breathing, practicing soothing self-talk, talking with a friend, going for a walk or jog). Cutting helps to focus their feelings on a tangible injury, provides relief, and can quickly become "addicting" as a way to cope with tough feelings. It feels good in the moment, and they begin to depend on it as a means for dealing with strong negative emotions. She needs to learn healthy coping strategies and more positive alternatives to dealing with the stresses of life. I have included a couple of links to articles on the topic below.

Meanwhile, you should do your best to take care of yourself (this is a stressful time for you, too!). You suffered a great loss when your father killed himself and it must be very scary to see your sister feeling sad. If you feel comfortable, it might be helpful for you to talk with your mom, a favorite teacher, or your school counselor to express some of these big feelings.

And, finally, the best way that you can be helpful to your sister is letting her know how much you care about her and assuring her that you are available to her for support. Let her know that you will do your best to listen, and you will also help her to practice healthier ways of coping (walking together, listening to music together, etc).

Your sister is very lucky to have such a caring and considerate sibling. I wish you both peace and comfort.

Warm regards,

Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Education.com JustAsk Expert
http://www.drlaurakauffman.com/
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Additional Answers (4)

DrWSchwartz
DrWSchwartz writes:
Hi
I am so sorry to hear about your sister. This is a very hard thing for a family to handle. However it sounds like you and your mum are right on top of it. The fact that your mum found out and is taking your sister to a doctor directly is terrific news. Try to remember that even though you have a strong desire to "fix" things for your sister and make it all better, you really can't. You are not her therapist or her doctor. She will hopefully have all those kinds of people to help her. Your job is not to be any of those people. Your job is not to figure this out or even to help in that sense. Your job is just to be her sister. Just love her and let her know how much you care about her. I am sure she will appreciate it during this difficult time.

Meanwhile, also remember to take good care of yourself. Hopefully you also have someone to talk with about what's going on?? Sometimes getting professional help is good for siblings too. Your situation is particularly stressful because of what your family has already experienced with your father. Sometimes schools have good counseling offices where you can find help or someone to talk. Maybe yours does?
Also you could let your mother know your concerns and see if she has some other suggestions for you.

Take good care.
Dr. S
> 60 days ago

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Cuthbertson
Cuthbertson writes:
You are a very caring little sister.  Your mather is very wise in seeking medical attention. I hope and pray that everything will work out well.  Keep the faith and let you sister know that you love her.  Best in 2011
> 60 days ago

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tesncurt5402
tesncurt5402 , Parent writes:
hey. sorry to hear about your sister and your father. you and your mom are doing the right thing by getting her help. it's hard for teenage girls to open up and admit that they are cutting. they don't think that people will understand. for the most part, those around them do not understand why they do it. understanding their reasons can be challenging but once you do get the general idea, it makes it alot easier to relate to what she is going through. From my experience, it's their way of feeling something. it's as though their body is numb and they are searching for something to ease that feeling. a counselor is a great asset to have. a school counselor is a good start but i would recommend looking for one elsewhere. consider setting up a safety plan with her. they work really well. let her know that you and your mother are there for her and that she can talk to you. keeping an open line of communication is priceless. this won't be easy but she really needs to get help. medications, counseling, or even in-patient evaluation may be needed to get her on the right path. good luck to you and your family.
> 60 days ago

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ML123
ML123 writes:
I'm going through the same...my also 15 year old sister is cutting herself and I don't know what to do...I'm the only one in my family that knows...I really don't know what to do...She was my role model, she was funny,loving,nice... and now she just spends a lot of time alone...I found her diary, and it was really disturbing and sad, i never imagined that my sister was able to wright that...I don't know why she is doing all of this...i've been really worried...i just want my big sister back...
59 days ago

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