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How do I help my wife?

vanish

vanish

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My was is diagnosed with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder, but for the most part, is stable and is no longer considered 'ill enough' by doctors to warrant medication. The thing is although her moods can be mostly stable and she is my nominated carer (she receives an allowance from the government for providing me assistance when I am unwell), she continues on occasion to self harm. She has told me numerous times before that the injuries were caused by something else and has blatantly lied to me (probably in an effort to protect my mental health from anxiety). She sees a therapist once a fortnight for 90 minutes at a time but I worry. I know being secretive and often lying about the nature of the injury can be part and parcel of self harming behaviours, but I really want her to stop. She always feels depressed afterwards, especially after admitting the truth.
Does anyone have any tips or advice on how to tackle this? I find the harming behaviours only occur when she is worried about me or another close family member.
 
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shesfree

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My daughter has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, self harm, eating disorder, and the list goes on. I encourage you to research the work of addiction pioneer, Dr. Mark Gold. He and others have been treating patients with naltrexone, an addiction medication. For my daughter, a high dose worked extremely well, the most helpful treatment in 17 years of her struggle. It started to work very quickly. It is being used for what are known as process addictions or behavioral addictions. You will need to convince your doctor that it has been shown not to be toxic. So do your research and bring it to your next appointment.
 
Foxjo

Foxjo

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I have found that self harm is very secretive and yes can bring feelings of guilt and depression afterwards. I know for me i tried not to self harm but the urge was overwhelming. I tried lots of distraction methods, sometimes that helped other times not. If only she could be honest with her therapist, that could really help. I know mine was non-judgemental and supportive and was a real help in stopping that behaviour.
It can become addictive too, sometimes like an ocd behaviour- if she self harms then "This" wont happen or for me it was if i self harmed then i would not take an OD (sort of compromise).

I know it must really worry you, sit her down and tell her that you are really worried about her and that by her not talking about it makes you more anxious and see if that leads to a conversation?
Hugs
Fox
 
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vanish

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I think I might encourage her to discuss this with her therapist, as after all, that's part of the reason she goes to therapy. She used to have an addiction to over the counter pain medication, almost to the point of ruining her liver, thankfully she has stopped that now.
She used to discuss self harm with her old therapist, but only if I sat in on the session. Now I consider what she discusses between her therapist and herself intensely private and don't sit in on sessions, she has stopped discussing the self harming behaviours.
 
Sk_darling

Sk_darling

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i am currently struggling with my partner who does not understand my mental health and definitely does not understand the self harming part. I've kept it a secret for a long time and they finally found out for the first time and it was a disaster. so the fact your willing to self educate means your heading in the right direction. its an unhealthy coping mechanism, but its also very real. just support her dont in any way shame the situation express your concern definitely, however please know the difference between that and making her feel like shes done something terribly wrong because trust me she knows... look up some alternatives that aren't as bad, ex: i have a rubber band around my wrist that i pop when i feel anxious.
 
vanish

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Just thought I'd update the situation. I encouraged her today to open up to our GP about her self harming. She was really embarrassed but I sat there and encouraged her to talk about it. The GP is reluctant to put her back on medication for her BPD (she still regularly sees a therapist), so my wife has been referred to a private psychiatrist for review. She's nervous understandably, but I'm willing to support her in any way I can.
 
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Snowshoes68

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You are quite kind and caring. I think it's wonderful that you've appealed here for support. I use the Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills workbook and would recommend that.
 
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Nukelavee

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As someone who mostly has self-harm under control..

For me, the urge comes from not being able to find a solution to an issue, and often because I feel bad because I can't help somebody else. It's almost like trying to make the emotional stress a simple physical pain.

Good advice has been given. She needs, I think, help in learning how to externalize and verbalize her pain or fear, in part, to rob it of it's import.

I think my meds help me with mine. I'm on pretty low doses of a couple things, plus a really tiny (2.5mg) of Rexulti (that's the brand name, I think). It seems to dull my emotions just a bit, a enough to let me see the wrongness of resorting to self harm more than I see the appeal.

She probably really feels likes she lets you down when she does it, which just causes a feedback loop. Keep being supportive and unjudgemental like you are.
 
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Just an update: She has an appointment with the psychiatrist on March 11. She wants me to sit in on the appointment because (and I forgot to mention this before now), my wife has a brain injury and cannot pronounce a lot of words (especially medications). So she is taking me for support not only on the emotional side of things but as a human post-it note of sorts.
She seems relieved by this almost and the amount of self harming has drastically reduced (it hasn't stopped but it is only here and there).
The other day, completely out of the blue, she presented me with her old diaries containing graphic descriptions of harm and also how she was at the time a voice hearer. I asked her if she still hears voices and she said "yeah occasionally". It opened up to an in depth conversation over a couple of days. I told her I was proud of her courage to be open with me about this. She replied it's high time I knew as I will find out in the appointment anyway and she thought it was better that she let me in on some of what happens for her and why she reacts the way she does. I feel blessed that she chose me to open up to as I was never going to force the issue. She has a lot of abandonment problems and paranoia surrounding imagined abandonment (she constantly thinks she will be left alone in life), but I've reassured her many times that I'm not going anywhere. I think she is beginning to slowly understand this, especially in light of this new information.
 
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My wife's self harming has been escalating recently, as the psychiatrist appointment gets closer. She once did a DBT course for 18 weeks, but that was years ago when she was first diagnosed and before I met her. Her current therapist doesn't offer that form of therapy. She is again being very secretive about her harming. If I ask her about it, she will deny any injuries as self inflicted. Last night she showed me a written safety contract she has with her therapist. It says if she has strong urges to write in her journal. She also showed me her journal for this year... it is quite dark in nature, although I am pleased she has it as an alternative to hurting herself.
 
Rowan

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My wife's self harming has been escalating recently, as the psychiatrist appointment gets closer. She once did a DBT course for 18 weeks, but that was years ago when she was first diagnosed and before I met her. Her current therapist doesn't offer that form of therapy. She is again being very secretive about her harming. If I ask her about it, she will deny any injuries as self inflicted. Last night she showed me a written safety contract she has with her therapist. It says if she has strong urges to write in her journal. She also showed me her journal for this year... it is quite dark in nature, although I am pleased she has it as an alternative to hurting herself.

I used to self harm very badly and often, although I stopped during my DBT treatment. Self harm had become addictive to me as your brain releases dopamine when you hurt yourself and provides some relief. It also provides some distraction from how your mind is feeling at the time.

I have the DBT book that I bought again recently to refresh me about DBT skills. I did it a long time ago (10 years) so I couldn't remember the skills I was taught. Have you thought about buying your wife the Marsha Linehan DBT workbook so it might jog her memory?

That is good that she has an outlet with journaling, though.
 
vanish

vanish

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You know, Rowan, I might just get it for her. I am pretty sure it's available via Amazon.
 
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Just providing an update about my wife: She is stressed today due to her psych review which was this morning. I think she conducted herself rather well throughout the interview and didn't get emotional, even though she was discussing some very emotive subjects. Two nights ago she self harmed and told the psychiatrist about it. The psychiatrist was actually very empathetic towards her (which is amazing really) and said her lifetime of trauma and abandonment by loved ones have resulted in her developing these maladaptive coping mechanisms (self harming and taking small ODs).
The good news is she now journals a lot and writes poetry to help get her emotions out. Yes, she is only two days s/h free, but she says for the first time in a long time she feels in control of her situation.
I'm waiting for the DBT workbook by Marsha Linehan to arrive from Amazon. I said I would help her with it as much as I could to complete the workbook (remember she has a brain injury and often doesn't comprehend the written word).
Things are looking up for her, so I really wanted to thank everyone.
 
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