Monday, October 12, 2015

Hats Off Corner Welcomes Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl and Kelly Tonelli



The tragic issue of cutting is what started me on the path to writing for young adults. In my debut novel, Sliding on the Edge, my main character was a cutter. Writing this book was my attempt to understand why young, bright kids were self-abusing. My research led me to a lot experts, but the book I'm featuring today wasn't out yet, or I would have dug into it for more background information about the issues of teen girls and advice for dealing with those issues.

When I found Kelly Tonelli's book on Book Blogs I asked her to share her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist on this topic. I'm so glad she agreed.

Hats Off Corner Welcomes Kelly Tonelli

Available at
AMAZON and BARNES and NOBLE


Cutting is when a person injures themselves by making cuts or scratches on their body with any sharp object – often deep enough to break the skin and make it bleed. These injuries can be placed on any spot on the body including arms, legs, stomachs, and wrists. 

Why kids cut:
  • Some kids cut as their way of coping with strong emotions, intense pressure or relationship problems. They may believe that experiencing physical pain will allow the release of emotional pain. 
  • Kids may be angry or ashamed about something they have done and are cutting in order to punish themselves for the “bad act”.
  • Cutting may be used as a distraction from painful thoughts and feelings.
  • The child may be trying to feel “something” – kids may feel emotionally numb and prefer pain to feeling nothing.
  • Cutting can be a “cry for help”. Kids may cut in order to let others in their lives see how distressed they are in hopes someone will be able to help.


Cutting warning signs:
  • Pattern of unexplained injuries, cuts and/or scratches. 
  • Insistence of wearing clothes that are counter to the weather (i.e., long sleeves or long pants on hot days) may be an effort to hide injuries.
  • Finding sharp objects where they wouldn’t be expected (i.e., razors, unbent paper clips, box cutters).
  • Blood stains on towels, tissues, clothes, sheets and blankets.
  • Locking self away from others – being secretive about activities while alone.
  • Series of “accidents” in otherwise not clumsy child.


What to do if you suspect cutting:
  • Talk with your child about your concerns. Do your best to avoid shaming the child, but focus on wanting to understand and help.
  • Problem solve alternative behaviors your child can utilize if the temptation to cut recurs. These can include: talking to you, physical exercise, writing about feelings, and distraction techniques (reading, TV, music, friends).
  • Know when to ask for help. A mental health professional is a great resource for you and your child. Make sure your child knows the therapist is a resource to help the family, not to “fix” them or because they are “bad”.
  • If your child shares future cutting incidents, do your best to come from a position of love and support, not anger and shame. Our goal is to increase communication about the behavior, not hide it away.
Thank you for such clear and helpful information, Kelly. I appreciate it and I'm sure my readers do, too. This practice isn't going away from what I've read, so it's good to have the word out. I hope none of you have  to deal with cutting in your lives, but if you do, I know Kelly's information is sound and helpful. I enjoyed reading her book, and I've posted a review of Teenage Girl. HERE it is!



******

Quote of the Week: "Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood." Marie Curie

74 comments:

  1. One of my friend's sons got into cutting when going through a really challenging time where he got terribly depressed. Luckily she saw the warning signs and got him help right away. Now he's fine and away at college. Thanks for sharing about this problem that all parents need to be on the look out for.

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    1. Detection and intervention is so important. Good for your friend.

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  2. Sad that a kid would get to that point. Never heard of such a thing when I was a kid. I'm sure it was there, but I don't think it was as prevalent. Sad life has become so stressful for kids these days. I can think of several reasons why that's happening.

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    1. I'm worried that social isolation is a big factor. They're out there together, but each focused on a device.

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  3. Hi Lee and Kelly - what a great post - I've known of people who've had/have children who cut .. and it is so difficult to understand. These points certainly help and I'm sure Kelly's book offers a lot more. Shows that parents need to be so aware of their children etc - so they can pick up the signs, hopefully before it happens.

    Cheers - Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary. Kelly's book tackles a lot of teen issues, and it really handles them so well.

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  4. Oh, great post. I've never cut, but I've self-harmed in other ways over the years, so I could still relate to a lot of the points listed here. Kelly's book sounds like such a helpful resource, for sure!

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    1. I'm passing it on to friends because, since I wrote Sliding on the Edge, kids have contacted me and so have their parents. They want help.

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  5. A wonderfully informative post. As a parent, it's important that I'm able to recognize the signs.

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    1. Let's hope you never find any, Christine.

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  6. A most wonderful post to read Lee and Kelly,
    Yvonne.

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    1. I appreciate that and I know Kelly will appreciate it, too, Yvonne. Thanks,

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  7. I think it's great that you two are raising awareness to this difficult subject. Awareness if vital to help those who in need.

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  8. Sad that kids need to end up doing that. I had one guy in college tell me he did it as a kid.

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    1. It's always good to find out kids survive those years and move on into healthier lifestyles as they mature.

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  9. I know of a young lady who started cutting in middle school. She was going through some pretty difficult situations. She's since gotten better and moving on to being a productive member of society. Thank you for sharing this helpful information.

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  10. One of our foster daughters was a cutter. She had a trip to the emergency room and a stay on the "5th Floor" because of it. I'm happy to report she is now the happy mother of 3 and doing so well.

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  11. Oh cutting. I knew a couple of people growing up who resorted to this and, while I could never wrap my mind around the real why's, it still had a huge impact growing up.

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    1. For those who don't cut, it's a mystery. I'm still not able to understand the why behind it emotionally. Although, I've researched the psychological issues. And, yes, this affects everyone who knows a cutter.

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  12. I didn't hear of this until my college years. I'm glad people are writing about it and reaching out to those who self-harm.

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    1. 5 out of 7 college students who were interviewed on three Ivy League campuses reported doing some sort of self-abuse. That was in 2007!

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  13. Great post! Cutting is such a prevalent issue these days and a lot of people brush it off as kids being "emo" or something. I had a class in college once where a girl essentially made fun of the issue and I hated hearing that!

    -Lauren

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    1. This is certainly not something you can make fun of, is it?

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  14. It's rather horrible :(
    We're approaching the biggest book fair in this part of Europe and since we publish a lot of dark dystopian and YA books with sick kids, we've prepared a sefhelp guide for teens too with the help of a teen suicide psychiatrist which we will be giving out to everyone there with our books. Teens are the most vulnerable part of humanity especially today when they have darkness and violence and slutty stars as role models

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    1. You've just reminded me that I have a post almost written about why I don't write or read dystrophia and don't encourage it among young readers in my family. I know that's blasphemy in the publishing world, but I strongly believe what we envision, we get! Including the slutty stars. Hope you can reach those kids in a positive way.

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  15. Thanks Kelly. Great stuff. I fear for my daughter, as 5th grade is already riddled with drama. Yuck.

    When I was a teacher, I had a student who was a cutter. I had to pay attention and look for any new cuts and report them. That was years ago, and I hope my ex-student is doing so well. We need to do better for these kids.

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    1. We absolutely do. We need intervention by all people involved with a self-abuser. They're so vulnerable. Thanks, Jay and good luck guiding your daughter through her teen years ahead.

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  16. I loved Sliding on the Edge.
    It is so sad that many teens feel so frustrated, confused, unloved that they do things like this to themselves. I don't understand it, but I hope Kelly's book helps.

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    1. Kelly's book addresses a lot issues and shows how teens can be proactive in bad situations. It's a solid book with lots of help for teen and their parents. I've already give two away to friends.

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  17. There are so many teenagers who need help and books like this are finally available to them. Last week, a young teen we know committed suicide and we feel so helpless.

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    1. There are signs if we only pay attention. Of course, I'm reminded of that poem Richard Cory, and think that we often just don't see what's happening or understand. Sorry about that young teen.

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  18. This was really informative, and the book sounds really helpful! Definitely not something I hope to ever have to deal with, but I'm grateful there are resources for teens (and adults) who face these issues.

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    1. There are resources out there. I've posted several on my blog, but now that I write that I'm thinking I should update that info page!

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  19. I just beta read a story for a friend who has a character who starts cutting and I've read other books with it. I think books with those issues are so important because they can help the kids learn that it's okay and there are better ways to cope.

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  20. It's great that there are books to help teens with this issue.

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  21. Cutting makes me so sad. I've seen a lot of movies about it, but haven't read a book about it. I've only found books about eating disorders and that discuss suicide. So I think your books are great. Thanks, C Lee and Kelly!

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    1. Cutting does seem to often occur with eating disorders and thoughts of suicide.

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  22. This post really hit home for me because I actually used to cut for about 6 months when I was 17/18. I'd say the first and third reasons why were the most accurate for me. I always figured at some point I'd write about it, but I haven't done so on my blog yet (I actually struggled with coming up with a comment but felt I should say something). I think a fictional piece will be a lot easier than something personal. I have created a character but still have to plan out the whole story.

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    1. When things are so deep inside you, you need to find a way to get them out. Writing does it for me just as I know it has done it for others. I hope you can craft the story you need.

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  23. Hi Lee. Thanks for guesting Kelly. This topic comes up a lot with my high school girls I tutor. It's good to learn more about it, and as you say, it's not going away. Perhaps as teens, especially, lose face-t-face communication, preferring the virtual, this may increase as the talk-about-it options are drying up. :-(

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    1. That's a huge concern. When we're into our cell phones or computers, we're isolated even while in a group.

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  24. This is something I dealt with too often while working with abused/neglected/emotionally disturbed kids. It was hard...

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    1. Sometimes I'm shocked by kids who cut and who come from what from the outside seem like supportive, loving homes, too.

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  25. It is very sad and it is difficult to treat because they do not wish to talk. I have had some young clients who informed me they did this. The one I remember most was when I was in University, she didn't cut herself but burnt herself. I recall being in the car and my boyfriend at the time and I smelled something gross. This friend of ours at the time, took the cigarette lighter and placed her finger in it until it smoked and turned black. I looked at her horrified, seeing the smoke rise from her finger like a cigarette would and all she said was "No problem." Another time, she was making eggs in a rot iron skillet and she took the pan's handle with her bare hand. I couldn;t talk but pointed. She looked at me blankly, put the skillet down, I saw the huge blister encompass her entire palm and again she just said, "No Problem." Unfortunately, when I spoke to her boyfriend about my concerns and asked him if she was not harming herself to get rid of all the pain she had experienced in life ( she was sexually abused by her Uncle plus her Uncle made her brother perform acts on her against both their wills), it backfired. I received a nasty letter stating how insensitive I was and I never heard from her again. I know they married and have 2 daughters who are now in University but that's all I know. I think with anything grave like this self mutilation, the best is to actively listen, support, never judge and know they can come to you. This sounds like an excellent book

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    1. That is one terrifying story, Brigit! I can't imagine seeing that happen and not reacting the way you did. It's normal to be horrified and want to put a stop to something like that.

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  26. Great information! While I understand it a bit more as an adult, I wish I'd known more about it as a teen. My best friend cut, and I later ended up with a teen employee who cut. I didn't know how to help either one.

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    1. I'm not sure I'd know how to help someone who abused themselves. It's such an insidious practice with so many underlying causes.

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  27. Tragic is right. It breaks my heart to think of kids out there hurting themselves. Thank you and Kelly for sharing more information on this.

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    1. I think getting the information out is one thing I can do, and I know Kelly wants to set teens on solid ground, so they can make healthier choices.

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  28. This is really good information. It's so sad that people feel they need to hurt themselves like this.

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  29. Thanks for raising awareness of this problem. I don't understand it, but I know you can't shame a kid who is involved in such practices.

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    1. There are some very deep-seated issues for many of them.

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  30. Good info, thanks so much for sharing. Love that quote by Curie!

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  31. Unfortunately, we as a society don't talk enough about these issues, but we need to if we want to bring positive change. Thank you both for posting and sharing this information.

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    1. We do need more awareness, so we can help whenever possible.

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  32. That's so sad that cutting is still happening. Just sad.

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    1. I haven't read the recent stats, but I'm afraid it's more widespread than when I first learned of it.

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  33. Sadly, I've met adults with these cutting issues, too. It's not limited to teens. It just makes my heart break to think of kids and adults hurting themselves.
    Thank you for writing your book and sharing this issue, C. Lee.

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    1. Yes, you're right. There are a lot of at-risk adults, too.

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  34. I just wrote a piece with a character who had this problem. It's definitely a curious malady and breaks my heart for those who do it.

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  35. Our world is so fast paced and stressful. I imagine many kids somehow feel left behind or not normal. I think adults have similar issues but may express them differently. I wish we'd be less judgy and more helpful to each other. Interesting topic and information.

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  36. Great information here. I'm particularly interested in the psychology behind it.

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  37. I like all the information here. We do need to be careful around our teens or all children to judge their mental states at all times.

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  38. What an eye opening post! Great information, sad, but great.

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  39. Insightful post. Thanks for sharing all this information.

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  40. Hi Lee,
    Happy to be here after a long gap! :-)
    So sad to read these developments especially among our new generation.
    A soft approach, counseling may help to bring them back to normal.
    You very well explained it in this new piece.
    Keep sharing
    Keep helping
    Have a great week ahead.
    Best
    ~ Philip

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