Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 June 2019

Fall-out with parents was just the start, says Abu Dhabi self-harming teenager

Case study: 'Before I knew what was happening I had grabbed a paper clip, straightened it out and made a long cut on my forearm'

"Martha" began self-harming after an argument with her parents about going to a party.

But the act was just the manifestation of deeper anger and frustration inside the 15-year-old British national.

“I was really upset with my parents for not letting me go to a party with my friends one night. I felt more angry than I had ever felt before, and felt out of control," she told The National.

"Before I knew what was happening I had grabbed a paper clip, straightened it out and made a long cut on my forearm.

"There was just a bit of blood and seeing this made me feel better for some reason.”

The self-harming continued, as her behaviour worsened and she began to feel lost.

Her mother said they noticed she was “wearing long sleeves, even in the hot weather and we started to question why".

"I went into her room one morning and noticed scratches on her arm as she was getting out of bed."

Martha she said had been more irritable than usual and was caught drinking alcohol a few times.

Her parents sought medical help at the American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology (ACPN) in Abu Dhabi.

Martha said that she knew that other kids at school were also cutting themselves.

“I felt that it was a release of the anger that I felt, and seeing the blood made me feel better for some reason,” she said.

“I attended therapy for a few months and learned how to deal with my anger, and express my feelings, and I also stopped drinking alcohol.

"I feel that I now have a better relationship with my parents."

Dr Candice Render, director of Rehabilitation Services at ACPN, said a rift with parents is common among self-harmers.

“Spend time with your children and know what they are doing, don't be afraid to ask questions," she said.

"Know their friends, and what they are doing when they are away from you.

"Most importantly, make sure that they feel comfortable coming to you when they are upset. Finally, don't be afraid to seek help when needed."

Updated: November 28, 2017 02:36 PM