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real life story: my daughter and her battle with self-harming

31 Aug 2018

Jodi, VIC

A few years ago, Cassie starting self-harming.I wasn’t sure whether this was just a teenage trend, or something more. We went through the school counsellors but it was a struggle as the staff kept changing. She was being bullied at school and online, but she didn’t tell me what was going on. People had even come to the school to beat her up and she didn’t tell me – neither did the school, even after one of the teachers drove her home.

She’d always been so happy-go-lucky and she hid it all really well. I didn’t know she was in trouble until a friend took her to a specialist service in Frankston when she became aware that Cassie had tried to kill herself. She was only 17. She was taken to Monash hospital and spent a week in the high dependency unit, she was on suicide watch. She came home after that week and started accessing a local service in Dandenong. But it quickly became tough as she was nearing 18, which is when she’d be due to change to adult services. The doors were closing and we were trying to find ways to keep her head above water. Eventually we were led to headspace and from the get-go they were a lifeline. Cassie experienced depression and anxiety, which were reactions to what was going on in her life.

Throughout all this I was beside myself. Overwhelmed. I was so discouraged that it was so hard to get her the help that we needed, until we got to headspace.

Talking with the people who were supporting Cassie was important. Saying 'this isn't working, what can we do now' and trying to find the right people. I also accessed some counselling services myself to look at what I had going on and also how to deal with Cassie on a personal level. And just how to cope. I also read a lot of books and resources about what Cassie was going through to make sure that I was informed. To other parents worried about their child, I’d say you need to trust your instincts. You do know your kids, better than you realise sometimes. And when it comes to social media, try and keep up to date with what’s going on so you have a bit of knowledge about what’s going on and how life is changing in that area.

It’s a really hard transition when your child becomes a teenager. Those disconnections do happen as they transition. You don’t have to be cool or the best friend, although Cassie and I are close, but even then I missed those signs. Know their friends and who they’re hanging out with.

headspace gave Cassie a place to feel worthy and connected. Her whole peer group experience was so terrible but headspace picked her up and put her in a better place. They gave her back her confidence.

We've got a long road. She’s still Cassie – and she’s got the fantastic personality that’s gotten her this far. She is still vulnerable as what happened to her did a lot of damage. She’' just been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, on the low end of the scale. It is a bit intimidating, and a little scary. But the support from headspace is great and I know we'll get there.