Skip to content

    Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Self-Injury: One Family's Story

    A mother and daughter tell their story about self-harm and how they finally got the strength to get help.
    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD

    Dawn was a junior in high school when her secret was discovered - she was practicing self-harm, she was cutting herself. That was eight years ago. Today, Dawn is nearly 25, and has transformed herself and her life. She has focused her career goals on helping others with emotional problems.

    Dawn and Deb (her mother) hope that, in sharing their story, they can help other families come to grips with the problem of cutting.

    Recommended Related to Anxiety Panic

    The United States of Anxiety

    By Lauren IannottiIt's the most common mental illness in America. One worrywart stares down her (and our) tendency to fret.

    Read the The United States of Anxiety article > >

    A Sheltered, Strict Childhood

    Looking back, Dawn can see what went wrong. Things just weren't right at home. "I always felt, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of anger, but I didn't know what to do with it," she tells WebMD. "I wasn't really allowed to get angry at home, to express my anger."

    Her father demanded perfection from her, Dawn says. "Also, I lived an extremely sheltered, controlled life as a child. I was real shy, real passive. I didn't have hobbies or activities. I didn't belong to clubs. I was always by myself, always in my room. I didn't have a whole lot of friends."

    Her mother has the same memories. "Dawn's father was very strict with her when she was growing up," says Deb. "Let's face it, you're the product of how you were raised - and he was raised by a really mean father who was very strict. He demanded that Dawn be perfect. I was just 19 when I got married, and at that age I let him take the lead as far as discipline. I wasn't as strong as I am today. It was only later that I realized, this just isn't right."

    When Dawn was age 10, her brother was born. As often happens, the second-born didn't face the same strict discipline that Dawn had. "Her father and I were older then, and we let some things go, her father wasn't as strict with him," Deb says. "That was hard for Dawn."

    Dawn was becoming more isolated. "My brother was a real small baby, and my parents were really busy with him. Yet I was going through all this stuff, having a really hard time."

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    young leukemia patient
    Article
    Unhappy couple
    Article
     
    embarrassed woman
    SLIDESHOW
    clown
    Quiz
     
    Phobias frightened eyes
    Slideshow
    podium
    Article
     
    organize
    Article
    stressed boy in classroom
    Article
     
    Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
    Article
    man hiding with phone
    Article
     
    chain watch
    Article
    tarantula
    Article