You know the feeling. When everything seems to be going wrong. It’s not a good feeling, is it? Now another question: How do you handle it?
Maybe you listen to music. Maybe you pray. Maybe you read a book. Or maybe you’re part of a group of people who do something more drastic to handle it: Maybe you hurt yourself. There are many different ways of doing this – cutting and burning are two ways that you’ve probably heard of.
One thing I can’t stress enough – “self-harm” is a very misleading term. If you self-harm, you may think that since it’s your body, it only hurts you. This, however, is not true. It hurts others, too, including God, your family, friends, your boyfriend, even those acquaintances you barely talk to.
Girls who don’t self-harm, I’m talking to you now. First of all, good for you. You are making a wonderful choice in finding other ways of dealing with problems. Now, do you have a friend that you suspect of self-harming? The first thing you should do is approach him or her and ask them if they’re doing it. If they say no, it could just be a misunderstanding. If you still think they’re hurting themselves, keep an eye on them without accusing them until you’re sure they’re telling the truth. If the answer is yes, tell a trusted adult – your parents, a teacher, a counselor, even a youth leader.
To girls who do self-harm – I want you to know that I’ve been there. It’s a dark road that can lead to something worse, such as suicide. I know it’s hard to quit but think of all of those people in your life whom the behavior will affect. I know you can’t possibly mean to hurt all of those people. Now, if you are doing it to get back at someone, such as a parent, try to think of other solutions such as talking it out. If you do it because you feel the need to punish yourself for something, think about what it is you feel you need punishment for. Then, think about whether it really was your fault. If you still feel it was your fault, seek counseling. The most important thing to know – there is no mistake that you can make that’s worth harming yourself over.
Now, once again, please remember that it doesn’t just harm you. It hurts your parents who probably love you more than life. It hurts your friends who care about you deeply. If you have a boyfriend, it hurts him because he loves you and cares about you, too. It hurts acquaintances who don’t want to see you hurt. And more than anything, it hurts God. Do you think the Creator of the universe wants to see a child of His in pain? Your body is a temple, and when you hurt yourself, you hurt Him.
My point is, the pain goes farther than you can imagine. Please think before you do it. Think of all of those who love you and want you to succeed. Think of those who care about you and your well-being. Then, put down the knife or the lighter or whatever you use to hurt yourself, and find something productive to do. And above all, pray for God’s guidance as you kick the habit.
Self-injury and self-mutilation are not appropriate coping behaviors. It’s important to get help from a health care professional as soon as possible.
Sometimes self-injury is a way of asking for help so that others know how much you’re hurting. However, other people may not notice, especially if you hide the evidence with long sleeves or tights. Remember that deeper cuts can result in permanent damage and leave lasting scars.
It’s important to find other ways to relieve the pain and learn how to talk about it.
The first step in stopping this behavior is to acknowledge that you have a problem and that you are not alone. Self-injury is a choice and you can choose to not injure yourself. I’m not saying it will be easy — in fact, people say it’s harder to stop than cigarette smoking. The important thing to remember is that you can do it, with help! It will take work, but you can live without self-injury.
To help you decide if you have a problem, child development expert Nancy Brown, Ph.D., would recommend that you ask yourself these questions:
- Do you cut or burn your skin habitually?
- Do you feel compulsively drawn to cut, pierce or burn your skin?
- Do you get “high” from the way the activity feels physically?
- Does the behavior consume your thoughts or interfere with your ability to function normally?
- Realistically, could you stop the behavior today if you wanted to?
- Do you use cutting, burning, piercing, compulsively exercising or any other self-injurious behavior as your primary method of releasing internal tension or distress?
- Is your self-injuring behavior “ritualized,” meaning it must be done in a certain way, and more frequently?
- If you do not self-injure do you panic, get disorganized or distressed?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, get help — the earlier the better. One option I would recommend is to please call S.A.F.E. Alternatives (1-800-Don’t Cut) or visit their website. They have a great book you can order called Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program for Self-Injurers as well.
Please, please watch this video. It’s God’s love letter to YOU.
“My precious child there are some times of suffering in your life. But the temporary suffering of this life does not compare to the glory that shall be revealed in you. Know this that I am with you and I will help you. Your help comes from me, I am the God who created the heavens and the earth, and the one who created you. I will never leave you, I will never reject you. When your parents fail you I will pick you up, hold you close, and adopt you. Nothing can ever separate you from my love for you. When you are in trouble and distress my love is with you. When you are persecuted my love is with you. When you are hungry and cold and naked my love is with you, I am always with you. When you are in danger and threatened with death my love is with you, I will be with you forever.” – from “God’s Love For You” video
By Project Inspired girl, Katie G