My Journey to Recovering From Self Harm

We're so excited to announce the launch of a new monthly feature: "Redeemed." This is a series of articles about the journey of recovering from self harm as a young Christian woman. The statistics are staggering: Each year, 1 in 5 girls engage in self injury. 90 percent of people who engage in self harm begin during their teen years and often carry on into their twenties. This includes things like eating disorders, depression, substance abuse, cutting, burning, and other forms of self injury. Worst of all, all of this almost always happens in complete solitude - without the knowledge of friends or family. It's just you and your pain.

But, it doesn't have to be like this anymore. Now, you have us. We're praying for you and we're starting a discussion about the honest reality of self-harm. Won't you join us the first Wednesday of every month? Starting today....from the very beginning.

Redeemed Series The Beginning: His Blood, Not Mine

I laugh; I smile. I work, I go out, and I relax. I am happy, it seems. Everyone believes me. Sometimes even I believe it.

Yet, every morning I wake up scared. I’m terrified of what will happen that day.... what I might do to myself. I put on the longest sleeves I own to hide my raw forearm. I pinch my cheeks and pull up the corners of my mouth until I look convincingly happy. I’ve mastered the art of de-swelling my eyes and faking a smile. But beneath the façade, I am a mess.

I am ugly. I am mediocre. I am not smart. I am not who I want to be. I am a failure.

These words are a hurricane, a tornado, a flood and an earthquake - all lobbying for the destruction of my body and mind. There is nothing to grasp, nothing to anchor me. I am out of control, and I don’t know how to escape. The weight of these thoughts is crushing me; I can’t breathe. I may drown soon, but I can’t find the surface. All I see is darkness. I am dying under this pressure. I cannot escape.

The only solution is watching my blood dripping into the bathtub or the sink. The pain of self-deprecation seems to escape through the gaps in my skin. The sharp sting of a blade distracts my mind from the sting of the words I throw at myself.

Deep down, I know this is wrong… but in my mind it is the only way to make the tension go away, even if it’s just for a day. I think it was mostly my own doing: what I expected to see versus what I did see. I could never crawl out from under my preconceived notion of perfection. This idea of my own ability propelled me to think that somehow I could fix it on my own.

September 28, 2013: After a particularly nasty bout with a pocket knife, I decided that that was the last time – the absolute last time. No more, I said. I can’t – No, I won’t do it anymore.

October said otherwise. When I broke that promise I made to myself, I lost all will to fight. I didn’t think I could do it. I’ll be caught in this forever, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Then, in a moment of clarity, I found the surface: 2 Corinthians 5:17.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

I might have recognized Jesus as my Savior, but I didn’t know how to accept His strength or how to let Him shelter me from the storm. That verse showed me everything I needed to see. I could start again; I could wipe the slate clean and be a new person. So I began the recovery process.

This time, I let Jesus into my corner. I knew then and I know: I can do this.

Jesus fights for me

I discovered that I was worth fighting for because Jesus fights for me. My worth, my success, my beauty was not measured by earthly standards. I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and therefore, I am unique. I don’t have to have “perfect” fashion, beauty, and intelligence. I do not belong to this world: I belong to Jesus.

I held out for a full two weeks until I picked up a blade again.

But, even then, the pain wasn’t satisfying. It had lost its appeal. So instead of feeling broken like every other time I bled, I rejoiced. I was so happy I cried. Then I smiled a real smile for the first in months. I felt release, not because of the pain but because I was free. I was finally free.

Since that beautiful day, I have not bled by my own hand a single time. I cannot deny that I have had temptation. I cannot deny that what I did haunts me. I recognize that recovery is not immediate. Blades still make me anxious, and still I hide my scars. I recognize that my problems will not go away with a snap of my fingers. I will fall – many more times.

But, Jesus picks me up every single time the darkness threatens to overwhelm me. That's why I want to help others accept His help just as I have.

Through this "Redeemed" series, I’m going to tell my story and talk - honestly and openly - about navigating recovery. I hope that my experience helps those of you who are struggling, and I hope that through these words you can find your path toward Jesus.