While self-harm may not be something that you deal with personally, chances are it does effect someone in your life. Right now. This very minute.
I believe that one of the greatest unspoken epidemics of this generation is self harm & suicide.
There's this incredible organization called To Write Love on Her Arms you can find it here.
On their site they share this:
"Self-injury is the deliberate harming of one’s body without the intent of suicide."
TWLOHA continues with~
"Self-injury is used as a maladaptive coping mechanism to deal with intense emotions."
There are vast amount of differences between self-harm/self-injury and suicide. My hope is what I write here helps correct any thoughts or ideas you have towards the subject.
Right now, at this moment, I ask you to throw any preconceived notions, ideas or thoughts on self-harm out the window and just listen for the next few minutes.
-Self-harm affects 14-24% of young adults and youth today.
-4% of adults self injure.
-Male & females both report similar rates on self-injury.
Why am I writing this today? I want to share this in hope to encourage, give hope and show compassion to others who may be experiencing this. I am writing this to share my story.
"When we tell our stories, we change the world."
Self-harm wasn't something I went searching for or even wanted in my life. It's something so shameful to me, that I would hide my scars and I would put up a front of perfection. When in reality, I was crumbling down on the inside.
I spent most of my childhood & teen years, and if I'm going to be completely honest, many of my adult years broken. From the outside though, you would never be able to tell. As a child, I was the perfect student, never caused trouble, turned assignments on time, not missing much school. In junior high & high school I was the quiet girl, who always had a smile on her face. As a young adult, I was the over achiever, pastor wife and employee who excelled at everything.
On the inside was another story. I can't remember a day that wouldn't go by that internally I would beat my self up. The only way I can describe it is mental self harm. I would tell my self how ugly, unwanted, dumb, stupid and unloved I was. This was just the beginning.
With everything harmful, there are things that you do to pacify yourself, but after a while, you seek something more destructive.
I eventually started to hate who I was. Where I came from (being given up to foster care before the age of three) and I literally had no hope. This was the beginning of my battle with self-harm and self-injury. I would actually think, "If people knew my real struggle, thoughts and deep down who I really was they would never, ever want to even be around me." Would you believe this whole time I knew God, went to a Christian School, had Christian friends?
It eventually got to the point that I accepted that self-harm was NOT OK in my life and I sought therapy. For me, the purpose of self-injury was a type of release. When I would get overwhelmed, intense emotions, hurt, pain: self-harm was the only thing that would help me feel like I could cope. I want you to know it wasn't ever something I tried to use to end it all. I never wanted to die when I would self-harm. Please remember this if you take anything away. Different things trigger it, too. A fight with a friend or loved one. Feeling out of control. A song. A thought. A memory. I would be lying to say its not still something I'm still tempted to fall back into. I'm so thankful now I have the tools, desire and support around me to stay healthy. I'm stronger today than I was yesterday, last week, last year. I know I'm loved by God, my family and those closest to me.
I'm also not defined by self-harm. I'm not defined by struggle. I'm made stronger because of it. It's helped me to have compassion towards others and whatever struggle they have. It's humbled me, to see others and myself as a person, that we're all so much more than what the struggle might be. I choose to not to think of it as a struggle, it's just part of my story.
My biggest motivation to stay strong and healthy and not fall back into self-harm is actually my children. I think about the woman, the mother, the example I want them to have. I look in their eyes and see that they need a mother who has the choice to use other things to cope with hurt or pain besides self-injury.
If you are reading this now and you are having thoughts or struggle with self-harm, please know you aren't alone. I'll stand with you with my hand raised high: not proud, but humbly sharing I'm a daughter, mother, a pastor's wife who has been in the trenches of self-harm. I've hid the scars behind watches that don't work, bracelets and long sleeves. Now I'm no longer afraid, defined or held back by self-harm. I'm here for you and want to connect you with the right resources to help your process of healing.
It is possible.
You are not alone.