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Chat: Jo Fincham

Monday, October 29, 2012

Interviewer: 60 Minutes presents a live interview with Jo Fincham.

Interviewer: Welcome Jo, to our live online chatroom.

Jo Fincham: Good evening to everyone who is joining, thank you for taking the time to come online and chat and I hope that I can answer your questions truthfully, honestly and hopefully I can help you.

vegiemitegal asks: Jo Thanks for you honesty tonight what sayings do you live by? Thanks for being you honest

Jo Fincham: My own saying is "With positivity, anything is possible", I've written a book called "Out of the Blue" which is out on sale now. I strongly believe in meditation and breathing exercises and always find positivity even in complex situations. Also I want to note that talking about it is a really powerful tool.

complicated asks: Hi Jo, Thank you for having the courage to talk on 60 mins. I thought you were very articulate. I'm almost 30 and self harm and was wondering if you saw a therapist? If so, how did they react to your self harm? Mine refuses to see me if I do....very upsetting

Jo Fincham: That's a really good question. I saw a therapist, it wasn't just for my self harm, I also have depression and an eating disorder and my self harm was part of that, it was a need for control. And no therapist in my opinion should say to someone that I can't see you because of what you are doing. If you don't feel comfortable or don't trust your therapist, there are other avenues to go down. Like Life Line or Reach Out (au.reachout.com) which is a great organisation. and also Beyond Blue. Otherwise find another therapist to speak to because this is a major issue and you need to find a therapist you can speak to and find comfortable. I wish you luck.

Jude asks: Hi Jo, I have seen your interview tonight, my daughter is 14 and has been self harming for the past 6 months, it is so painful to watch her in so much pain, I have spoken to counsellors to be there for her as best I can, not making her feel ashamed but also letting her know that I am aware she is hurting herself in the bathroom, I would appreciate any further advice, the pain of a mother seeing your baby in so much pain is terrifying

Jo Fincham: Now being a mother, I can understand totally that it would be heartbreaking to see your child self harm. The best advice is to do exactly what you are doing, to always be there for her, let her know you are aware of it, always lend an ear, and don't make her feel different to anyone else, this is her coping mechanism. Your daughter knows it is not the right thing to do, if she's got the urge to self harm, potentially encourage her to chat to you first before going to the bathroom. If she goes into the bathroom first, don't be afraid to knock on the door and check on her. Make sure she knows her mother is there, and if you think it is becoming beyond her, perhaps she could see someone about it. I give you full credit for what you are doing, you are an amazing mother.

help asks: i need your help i have been self harming for 6-8 months now and am feeling really really low what do i do

Jo Fincham: The good first step is that you are admitting it and acknowledging your feelings. The best thing to do is, if it is a bit too much, see a therapist or talk to a friend or loved one you can trust. If you are feeling really low, I really encourage you to seek support. Either via a help line or a therapist. You're very brave to admit that you are feeling the way you do, and you should definitely seek help, don't tackle this on your own.

tesssssss101 asks: hi i think you are so brave for what you did and I just want to ask how did you get help and realise that you had to stop ?

Jo Fincham: The thing for me is that it sprung from through an eating disorder. I had bulimia for 18 years, and the self harm was another way to cope with it. I realise that people who self harm know tat it is not the right way to tackle things, but they are doing it because I didn't know how else to confront certain problems or when someone upset me. But I knew it wasn't the right thing to do, so I knew I had to get help when it was a daily occurrence. I was in an abusive relationship for 7 years, and I was scratching, cutting and burning a lot. It was basically when I sat back at a therapist and heard her talk to me and she pointed out what I was doing, and when I heard someone tell me what I was doing I had an out of body experience and it made me realise I needed help. It's a long road, and I still tackle a little bit with self harm and my eating disorder, and it's a slow road. But you need to stay positive and if you find you are not able to handle it, you need to find help. Whether it is doing something you enjoy or finding help.

teetbeetle asks: i've been cutting on and off for 3 years now. i'm 18 in two weeks and honestly want to be clean. i want to leave this as an adolescent phase, but i feel i am addicted to it...

Jo Fincham: Thank you for being so honest, the adolescent age is one where you are confronted with a lot of issue, it's a confusing time in your life as well, and I honestly thought that I would out grow it as well. Self harm is very addictive and I found it to be addictive for close to 10 years. If you want to be "clean" then I'm sure you will be because you want to be, there is help available. If you feel the need to self harm comes, take yourself out of the situation either with some deep breathing, or go for a walk, find a way to calm yourself down and stay positive. The fact that you want to be clean is a really good start. I want to note that I'm not a professional, I'm just a past sufferer so I hope that I was able to help you. If you feel you need further help, please see someone about it either via a help line or a therapist.

Interviewer: There are some great people you can speak to if you need to talk to someone. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800. In any emergency you should ring 000.

Kieran asks: I've got a question, What about the males? I'm a guy who's struggled with self harm for almost all my teenage life. How can we reach out when all the focus is on the females?

Jo Fincham: That's a really good question. Self harm doesn't discriminating, people need to know this. It's not just females, it's men as well. Don't be too ashamed because your male, there is a lot of pressure on men who to "strong". Men feel pain just as much as women, and people need to be very aware of that. If you need to tell people you are having issues, you need to tell people. I wish you all the luck, stay strong and try and receive some help.

MelissaJane asks: Hi Jo, during your story it really inspired me how you were going to high schools and talking to students about self harm. I'd really love to start doing this as well as when I was in high school 3 years ago, a lot of us were resorting to self harm including myself. How did you get started on making school visits, what are the main key points you talk about and what can I do to become involved in these?

Jo Fincham: It's something I'm really passionate about, it's helping the young kids of today in schools. I was initially approached by the school featured in the story, and once I started to do one there were other schools that would approach me. It was very much word of mouth, and then again my book Out of the Blue was also published. A lot of teachers and students have read it and it says in my book that I talk at schools, so I have those factors helping me. But you can start off by doing a mail out to different schools, ring them and introduce yourself and explain what you want to do. I think the best thing is to contact schools directly. I mostly talk about accepting yourself for who you are, especially all the pressure from social media and the media. I talk to them about loving themselves more, worrying just about themselves, to be positive and give compliments where compliments are due. I also talk about my own personal experiences and to let them know that it is not the right thing to do and to talk about it. I encourage students o love themselves more and be positive.

Kat21 asks: My 14 year old daughter told me last week she has cut herself 2 times, we are on a waiting list to seek help privately, she is relieved she told me, how much should we talk about it?

Jo Fincham: It's great that your daughter has come to you and told you about this, she is obviously a very strong girl and wants help. The fact that she told you means she is crying out for help, and talk about it as much as your daughter wants to talk about it. If she comes to you, always give her your time. Don't make her feel alienate and different from others, and tell her that you understand it is her coping mechanism. I would recommend seeing a GP first so they can recommend you. I wish you all the best.

Madelin95 asks: Hi Jo, I'm 17 and have been self harming every day for nearly a week now, but cutting for nearly two months. I have lost so many friends who are absolutely disgusted in me, how did you cope with what people thought?

Jo Fincham: I'm so sorry that your friends have done this to you, true friends should be there for you no matter what. With me, people didn't know I was doing it so people never alienated me. It was a very secretive shameful thing I did, so I would recommend you sit down with your friends (if you are feeling comfortable) and explain that it is not an attention seeking thing you are doing, that it's a serious problem. Tell them it's your way of coping with things, and if they were your real friends they would stick with you. I would recommend that you seek help, speak to your school counsellor or family. I understand that girls can be tough critics and it just adds to the problem. That fact that you can admit it is a really good thing. I wish you all the best!

melisssa asks: hello i self harm and nobody knows about it i need help but i dont know where to turn ??

Jo Fincham: If you feel comfortable, please talk to family or friends. If not, then go to a GP and speak to them and get a referral to go and see a specialist in the area. Or seek help via help lines, I've recommended some great ones in one of the first questions, and I highly recommend them.

Interviewer: There are some great people you can speak to if you need to talk to someone. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800. In any emergency you should ring 000.

vegiemitegal asks: Jo what inspired you to write your book can you tell me more about it and have you added any photos you've taken in it?

Jo Fincham: My inspiration in writing it was a healing tool for me, to put it all down on paper and because I do a lot of work with Beyond Blue and I thought that if it helps people then I definitely want to write it if it can give inspiration to people suffering as well. There are personal photographs in the book, and if you want to see more of my photographs you can visit my website: http://jofincham.com/ (you can also order my book from there as well). But my biggest inspiration to helping others who are self harming as well.

complicated asks: I suffer from the other same afflictions you mentioned. Did you spend any time in psych in patient? It is something we have discussed, but overwhelmingly scary. Did having your baby change things?

Jo Fincham: No, I was never hospitalized, but I have seen psychologist, especially during my 20s I saw psychologists and psychiatrists very often. It was mostly for my eating disorder and self harm, and I find it helped me immensely, and that's why I really encourage people to talk about it. The main thing is to not feel ashamed, it is not weak to talk about it, it is actually a strength to talk about it. Having my daughter has really changed things for me. And the biggest inspiration for me in overcoming everything is knowing that if I self harm then I feel I am letting people down (since I am so actively trying to help others). It is still a work in progress, but helping others is my biggest inspiration. I spend a lot of time doing meditation and breathing exercises which have been very helpful, and very powerful too. General exercise is also a really good thing, and really good nutrition is very beneficial as well.

adidas asks: whats the best way to avoid the urge, i use to cut up until recently but still get the urge

Jo Fincham: Remove yourself from the situation for just five minutes and (note I am not a doctor) the best way for me would be to sit down in a calm place, concentrate on your breathing and remove yourself from the situation that is upsetting you. For me, even clenching my fists help, it helps me get rid of my nervous energy. I find breathing is a very powerful tool, I recently attended a workshop that stated "if you don't think breathing is important then don't do it", which really speaks volume about how important things like deep breathing is and how beneficial it can be. The longer that you go without doing it, the more inspiration you will have to not do it.

blandie asks: Hi Jo, my 17 year old daughter started with bulimia and is now self harming, not much but I have no idea how to help her because she gets angry at me if I try to talk to her about it.

Jo Fincham: I completely understand because eating disorders and self harm are very closely related, it's a coping mechanism for young girls. It's a need for control, I used to always tell my parents I was fine, but underneath I was screaming out for help. You are doing the right thing by speaking to your daughter about it, but you need to tell your daughter that you asking is coming from a place of love. Don't be afraid to ask her how she is and speak to her about it. Try and pick a time when your daughter is relaxed, or even go out with her and have a really good chat about general stuff and then move into it. Even if you go out of the house, some place that is neutral, potentially to a park or coffee shop, if you can talk to your daughter about it she will find it is very healing to talk about it. You are doing the right thing and are a great mother.

maddie asks: I'm 17, and so many of my friends self harm, just because it seems so common and normal. How can I show them thats its serious (seriously, I think one of the biggest causes is Tumblr)

Jo Fincham: You are an amazing girl, the fact that you are trying to help them is fantastic. I recommend you sit down with your friends and voice your concerns. Tell them you are worried they might go too far, perhaps give them suggestions on other ways to cope with things. I feel like social media and the rise of celebrity culture is a huge contributing factor to this. I feel like there is too much pressure to be pretty and perfect. It would be great to sit with your friends, talk to them, go for walks and really tell them that you care and are worried for them. I think you are doing a great job, you are really amazing and I really hope your friends listen to you.

standingtall asks: If you don't feel comfortable talking to your parents and seriously don't want them to know, would talking about it with a trusted adult be a good move?

Jo Fincham: Yes, I do. I think talking about it with anyone is a good move. But I would still strongly recommend you speak to your parents first.

help asks: my daughter is only 12, has started high school this year and is cutting at home and at school. the therapists are telling us to continue sending her to school regardless of this being a huge fear of hers. she has missed out on so much of life and school we are confused with the advise of the therapists as it causes her so much pain to go to school. can you advise.

Jo Fincham: I'm so sorry to hear that someone so young is suffering like this, I actually think it is a good idea to continue on with school because you need some sort of continuity in life. When she feels like talking, find a good time, maybe you could find out what about school she really dislikes. Try and get to the bottom about why she doesn't want to go to school. It's really great that your daughter is speaking to you and voicing her dislikes, try and find out what she dislikes about school and work with her to resolve those issues.

AnneCollins asks: What a heartfelt story Jo. At what point in your life did this all begin and was there a trigger that began it all.

Jo Fincham: It began when I was 14, I was a gymnast and it was a comment from the female coach that sparked my eating disorder that it led to self harm. If you would like to learn more, I'd recommend you check out my book.

Interviewer: That’s all we have time for tonight, any final comments before we finish up Jo?

Jo Fincham: Thank you to everyone for joining the discussion, my thoughts go out to all the sufferers and carers of sufferers. I encourage you all to talk about things, if you're worried about something, talk about it. If you want to hear more about my story, go to my website at http://jofincham.com/ where you can also buy my book "Out of the Blue". I am sending lots of love and positive energy to you all!

Interviewer: This concludes our chat with Jo Fincham, Sunday October 28, 2012.

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