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Thread: At a loss with GF and selfharm

  1. #1

    Question At a loss with GF and selfharm

    Where to being,
    The jist of the problem is my partner practices skin picking both compulsively and because of anxiety reasons. I have been aware of this to some degree for a while but only sorta got full disclosure recently.

    http://www.trich.org/about/skin-picking.html

    What brought this to a head is we recently entered a cg/lg dynamic and I didnt want them to hide anything from me.
    Im just at a bit of a loss at how deal with this, I want to help to any degree possible but I have very little experience dealing with people that have self harmed and not sure what is more harm than help.

    Does anyone else have personal experience with similar issues on either side, or ideas for a good course of action?

    Also we will be seeking professional medical advice.

  2. #2

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    I'm going to tread carefully, because self-harming is different based on each person - in terms of their emotional motivation for self-harming, the extent of the injuries, and the overall mental health picture for each individual who self-harms.

    One of my close family members self-harmed for a number of years. He's stopped now, but to reach that point it took understanding the motivation behind his actions, and not just trying to explain logically why cutting yourself is a bad thing. It's an issue I think you should approach very gently. Maybe ask your GF a few general questions about how she's feeling, and what's making her feel unstable or upset. You're more likely to get a receptive answer to the kinds of beliefs and thoughts which are driving the self-harm than if you jump in and say 'Why are you self-harming?'. That kind of approach is likely to make her defensive, and perhaps even more anxious or unstable than before.

    It's not something which can be solved in one go - far from it -, so I'd recommend that if your GF is receptive to discussing her more troubling thoughts and feelings, to tackle one strand of them at a time. There's often a myriad of reasons which join together to form the trigger for self-harming. I'd identify one of those reasons, and then try to work on that reason. If you reach a point where you feel she has genuinely overcome one of the barriers to mental stability, I'd offer a lot of praise to her for doing so, and then gradually go onto what you feel is the next motivating factor in her self-harming.

    Aside from that, the simple things are always good. Be kind. Tell her the things you admire most about her (and be genuine - it's obvious otherwise). Tell her how much you love her. Be gentle and affectionate. It's easy to feel frustrated when someone you care about deeply seems trapped in a cycle of mental-health issues, but remember, she'll want to get better more than anyone. Kindness, affection and genuine compliments are a good technique in rebuilding a battered sense of self.

    Note: I agree that your GF should seek professional medical help. I just think that there are things you can do as well, in terms of helping your GF develop more positive ways of thinking, and to improve her sense of self, on a day-to-day basis. Like Geno said though, you can't do it all alone. It's too much to ask of a person.
    Last edited by Sanch; 16-Oct-2014 at 11:21. Reason: Wanted to add a few things

  3. #3

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    Your partner sounds like she needs therapy or other mental help if she isn't already seeing someone. I'm sure the LG relationship may very well be a part of that.

    I've dealt with a lot of mental illness in my family, and with others (some very close friends). There's only so much one can do, and take it from me, I can't handle a lot of it for the long run because it really is too much. My schizophrenic aunt was enough.

    How long have you been dating and knew this was going on? Is she even self aware of it and know the gravity? I'm sure a compulsion like this has gone on for years. Her family didn't do anything?

    Skin picking is very much an OCD related disorder. There's probably a lot more going on than you or her realize.

    Be as helpful as you want to be, but honestly don't bear this entirely on yourself. It's not smart. I've done it once before in a past relationship. Sometimes you can't change anything and there's nothing really more you can do than just being there.

  4. #4

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    I think i would have to agree with what has been said before. I think the best thing you can do is perhaps help her to get in to see a psychiatrist and support her through that process. I think helping her to see getting help from someone about any issues or problems she has as a positive thing would be the best thing you could do at this point. That being said, i wouldn't attempt to drag her in to see someone as that will likely put strain on your relationship. The best outcome for her would be her "wanting" to seek help and solve her problems.

    Other then that, providing some self-image type support would be beneficial for her. It is likely that she does have problems with this so the genuine complement about the good things she has been doing lately/positive changes in herself will likely reinforce those sorts of positive behaviours.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geno View Post

    How long have you been dating and knew this was going on? Is she even self aware of it and know the gravity? I'm sure a compulsion like this has gone on for years. Her family didn't do anything?
    Im trying to be smart about it as possible, the lg relationship we have is a rather recent thing but its something she fell into easily I think its big escape from anxiety issues.

    We have only been dating since the start of June, but have been friends with them for the last 5-6 years. I only found out about the skin picking in July I learnt about it but couldn't really do anything until she was more ready to honestly open up about it, as im sure you can understand its something shes ashamed of and hides to a high degree.

    She is self aware of it and has some coping mechanisms to try and avoid it, but I unsure if she understands the gravity past an intellectual understanding.

    It has been happening for years since she was a teenagers her parents/family are rather useless I suspect they largely never knew or didnt care, and to this day are the main driving force behind her anxiety issues.





    Anyway yes she does need therapy or help and I am pushing her to seek that but current work/life situation makes it hard and there is a degree of resistance because of the natural/inbuilt desire to hide it.
    Also I dont believe its ocd I know it can be linked to that but I would consider that unlikely based on a number or reasons.

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by SirNapsALot View Post

    Aside from that, the simple things are always good. Be kind. Tell her the things you admire most about her (and be genuine - it's obvious otherwise). Tell her how much you love her. Be gentle and affectionate. It's easy to feel frustrated when someone you care about deeply seems trapped in a cycle of mental-health issues, but remember, she'll want to get better more than anyone. Kindness, affection and genuine compliments are a good technique in rebuilding a battered sense of self.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zeek61 View Post
    Other then that, providing some self-image type support would be beneficial for her. It is likely that she does have problems with this so the genuine complement about the good things she has been doing lately/positive changes in herself will likely reinforce those sorts of positive behaviors.
    A big part of entering this out current cg/lg dynamic was to help give her an escape for anxiety and give me a way to shower her with attention and other silly things and over positivity.
    In a way I do struggle to be affectionate and this is one of the steps we took to dealing with that, its also how i found out the real degree of this problem.

    But yeah in no way am i trying to make her feel bad about what is occurring I am just desperately trying to lessen it.

  6. #6

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    Does she do it in public, or is this a private thing where she shuts herself away and obsesses over her own body in a harmful way?

    Either way, I think you're pursuing the right steps in urging her to seek help, but I'd be particularly concerned if she does it alone and is harming herself in an environment where nobody is going to find her for a while if something bad happens.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchieRoni View Post
    Does she do it in public, or is this a private thing where she shuts herself away and obsesses over her own body in a harmful way?
    Its incredibly hard to get her to talk about it , but she has mention that she likens it to picking out an infection and also that she usually shuts herself in the bathroom or such to examine in the mirror. Its reasonably private i would say, yet I have seen it happen in public a few times which i suspect due to anxiety.

    Its going to take a number of steps to get them proper help though.
    I should say despite the fact its self harm it seems to be a very stable sort of self harm and not a precursor to suicide or anything, shes lived with it for half her life ....

  8. #8

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    Hello, let me start off by saying that I personally suffer from Dermotillomania myself, I know somewhat what it's like. Sadly it's something really hard to get under control, when you begin picking it's almost like you're in a trance. You start off just itching somewhere then before you know it you're picking at your skin.

    The way I brought it under control was through finding what triggers the urge. And I learned during that time to NEVER resist the urge. Find something to keep your hands occupied with, like arts and crafts projects, colouring etc. I'm typing this from my phone at the moment but if you'd like shoot me a PM and I can try my best to help, just know that beating this or getting it under control is difficult. I've had what I like to call "Calm Hands" for a little over a year now.

    I guess I should say it's not something you beat perse, but rather that you learn to bring under control.

  9. #9

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    Well... There's another issue I need to describe to my therapist. Ive always been a nail biter, but I just read your link with the clinical description and I now see that the last 6 months have definitely been a downward spiral of anxiety and boredom, with all the symptoms listed... You've helped me in my own journey, I sincerely hope you find help for your GF as well.

  10. #10

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    Yes, I was going to suggest finding something else to keep ones hands busy. I used to cut when I was a kid, and I can remember being in a trance. I'd simply take a razor blade, and for some unknown reason, I'd just want to cut my arm and watch it bleed. Fortunately, I outgrew it. It was something I tried to keep hidden from my parents, and it wasn't extreme. I grew up in a hard neighborhood and had a lot of fights. I suspect that was one cause.

    I was a model builder, so I kept not just my hands busy, but also my mind by working on my model train layout when I was done with homework. Even now, I'm a lot happier if I stay busy with something.

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