Posts Tagged ‘self-harm’

There are times when I feel a little lost. I look back and wonder how on earth I have come to be in that particular place, at that particular time. How on earth did I end up holding this particular responsibility? Did I really say that I love doing x?

It does has its benefits. It means I can be a bit more vague when it comes to making decisions. If I’m not sure who I am it means that I don’t have a set standard of ethics to frame my choices. It means that I can sit back and let others do the hard work and be responsible. It means that I can love my green trousers one day and hate them the next.

Sometimes this can be classed as growth. The idea that you can look back with the benefit of hindsight and ask yourself “really?” Changing is not a bad thing. Especially when it is being transformed into the image of Christ.

But Christians talk a lot about identity. As forgiven people, we find our identity in Christ. We are no longer characterised by sin or the things we have done, but rather by what Jesus has done for us. We are new people. Such good news.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Brilliant. This means that I don’t have to worry about the old labels I had for myself. Self-harmer. Crazy person. Loner.

So why do I? Why did I tell someone yesterday that I considered myself to be mentally unstable at times? Or, even worse, why did I worry that they thought that I was? Do I still see myself as a self-harmer, or someone redeemed by grace?

I wonder whether these labels are easier to handle than facing up to the reality. The reality that I have become a new person, and that I do have choices to make about how to live my life, because that is what grown up people do. I think decisions are difficult sometimes.

There is also the fact that, by considering myself to be a self-harmer, it means that I am allowing myself the possibility of relapse. If I really felt I needed to. Maybe. When desperate. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Again, there are positive aspects to this. It means that I am more likely to seek the help I need from friends and others. It means that I am constantly relying on God for my strength not to cut myself. And it means that I don’t take my recovery for granted.

But to what extent will I be able to recover fully if I stay like this? Does it mean that I am defined by the bad things and the relapses rather than the redemption of the Cross and God’s love for me? How do I think God sees me?

Important questions from a slightly panicked heart.

I choose Christ. I choose to be defined by Him and not by a pair of scissors.

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.’  (Zephaniah 3:17)

And this is so true.

 

NSAD-Artwork

Today is Self-Harm Awareness Day in the UK.

How aware are YOU about self-harm? I could write a fantastic post about it, but Emma Scrivener has already done that, so please take a look at http://emmascrivener.net/2013/03/self-harm-info/ for more details on what self-harm is and how to help others.

All I’m going to say is that I needed (and sometimes still need) all the help I can get to shout out into the darkness that descends. So people who listen to those in that place are just so valuable. You don’t need to offer advice, but just be there and say that you care. And ideally also that God cares.

Let’s beat this thing. Together.

Once upon a time there was a girl. She lived in a world where people were supposed to be different. They were supposed to be nice to one another and care about one another so that other people on the outside might look in and say “Aren’t they nice? I want to be like them!”

She lived with a group of people. Sometimes they asked how she was. Sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they invited her to play with them or to eat with them, but sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes she would walk in and find them all playing together and no one had invited her. Or they would talk to the others around her and ask them about their lives and not ask her. It was like they would pretend that she wasn’t there. Some days no one would speak to her at all.

At first, it seemed accidental. I mean, you can’t always ask how everyone is can you? And you can’t always ask everyone to eat with you, can you? And you certainly can’t play with everyone all the time. But life got harder on the outside, and it seemed like no one cared. It seemed like the girl had become invisible. And the less that people played with her, the less people seemed to want to play with her, or ask her over for dinner. Or even ask her name.

Invisibility can sometimes be a gift. It can be a good hiding place,  helpful to quietly achieve things in the shadowy background. But sometimes it can be horrible. It made the girl feel like there was something wrong with her, but she didn’t know what that was. It made her feel like she had no value at all, and that there was no point in her even opening her mouth, because no one would listen anyway.

Sometimes it made her angry because no one cared. She knew that they should. Sometimes it just made her sad. Sometimes it made her wish that she was part of another world entirely, because at least then she wouldn’t expect people to care.

And that was when things unravelled. The patterns and habits of the past came back and behaviour and lifestyle changed. Because there was little point in acting like things had changed when no one else seemed to. Self-harm became a temptation – I mean, why not have something concrete that was actually wrong with her?

But then there was hope. Other people said they same thing, and decided to be nice to each other and play together with her and make sure that everyone and anyone was welcome to join in. They ate together, and it became the start of a beautiful friendship. Gradually, other people joined their group and no one felt that they were on the edges. Even those who had ignored her before decided that they had made a mistake and actually she was smart and funny and nice. And other people wanted to be like her.

THE END

Like it or not, God calls us to be in community with one another. We are also called to love our neighbour, whoever that might be. Are there any invisible people in your life, that would appreciate being cherished and valued for who they are? Do you ever feel invisible?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law […] Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 5:22, 6:2).

Just imagine a world where that really happened. Somehow, I don’t think people would be invisible then, would they?

Today I shared my testimony with a fairly large group of friends. For the first time in a big group setting, it was unedited, uncut and unabridged. What really happened. Even the bits that are really quite embarrassing or simply just painful.

I felt as if I was laying myself bare. I’m quite happy to share my testimony normally, unless I don’t want to make myself too vulnerable with someone (mostly a pride issue with people I don’t like or don’t trust), but I haven’t really had the courage to share the story of abuse with many people.

Someone warned me afterwards to make sure I didn’t always share to that depth as it could leave me very vulnerable. But then it had been my decision to share what I did, and I don’t think I regret it.

Somehow I want to be able to be vulnerable to people, but work out how to do it without being hurt in the process. Being as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves is coming to mind, in the words of Jesus to his disciples. Something to think about, anyway.

What do you see when you look in a mirror?

I know what I see. I see the many imperfections. My long nose. The spots I have littering my face and my chest. The wide shoulders that seem to stick out. The tummy that looked on sideways makes me look pregnant. The bum that seems three sizes larger than the rest of me. The short stubby legs that would be a supermodel’s nemesis.

What I see when I look in the mirror is so much focussed on my appearence. If I’m lucky, I might spot the bright blue eyes or the thick eyebrows around them, but more often than not, I don’t. And they are still what I look like.

Now, the Bible tells us that that is not what God sees. The Bible tells us that we are precious and loved. That we can be so much more than simply what we look like and that life is about so much more than that anyway. In fact, the Bible tells us that God loves us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on our behalf.

So we see a distorted image of ourselves, and we get gnarled up in the twisted thinking which spirals down into self abuse and for me, at any rate, self harm or endless diets. I try to make the imperfections perfect in my own way, and it always fails.

But there is hope if we move towards the things that God considers important. If let our lives be shaped by Jesus, and let ourselves be transformed bit by bit, surely things have to get better, don’t they?

Sometimes, I think the problem can be bigger than that though. If we have such a distorted image of ourselves, what is our view of God like? If that is as distorted as the one we have of ourselves is, then we really have an issue.

It sort of all goes back to the Bible really, doesn’t it? And not, (well, hopefully) in a cheesy “we must read our Bibles more then get healed” but more of the dwelling in the truth within its pages. One of the old prayer books in the Church of England uses the phrase “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” about the Holy Scriptures. That expresses how we need to let the truth of the Bible be ingested by our system. A bit like when you have have too much garlic, the next day you can feel it oozing out though all your pores. Or alcohol, but let’s not go there, shall we?

When we concentrate on the greater truth of the Bible, suddenly, my stubby legs seem far less important in the grand scheme of things. And if they don’t, then they really should. But at any rate, we need to get a right image of God, away from all the twisted distortions of our minds and the limits of our imagination. And then, hopefully, the healing can begin.

 

So, someone asked me earlier if I would be up for talking at their church youth group about some of my story and my issues, in the hope that it might help people see that self-harm, depression and self-image problems are widespread and not the elephant in the room that no one talks about.

And that then got me thinking – how do you think people should respond to self harm? Should it be an easy topic of conversation, or not? Should everyone know about it, or would that then encourage others to follow suit? How do you even go about telling someone that you have self-harmed?

Some of these have gone so wrong for me. I didn’t talk about it enough with one friend to the extent that she thought scissors would make a good birthday present. Others have been determined to fix things, or have told me how I should feel. But some have been brilliant.

So, I am interested to know – what has your experience been?

getting better (take 2)?

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Hope
Tags: ,

Two words. Antidepressants suck. Or is that 3?

So they are rubbish when you go on them. They are rubbish when you try to go off them. And then suddenly, you realise that they might have been doing something after all… Maybe.

But still, part of the journey.