This is a difficult post to write, I probably won’t explain it quite right, but please bear with me and to those who have helped me and supported me through all this, I thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. You, and the help and support you gave is God’s gift to me.
Something you may not know about me is that I have a battle with the temptation to self harm on a daily basis. A battle I am currently winning.
From age 17 I would regularly harm myself to try and rid myself of feelings of anxiety, fear, and low self esteem. It was an outlet for extreme & confusing emotions. An outlet for my constant and overwhelming anxiety. This way of releasing my feelings soon spiralled out of control and I started harming myself very regularly, I was addicted, and I couldn’t stop. I knew it wasn’t the best way of dealing with it but I knew no other way. No other way had seemed to work. I found support in some of my close friends but to others it was a huge secret, nobody would know unless I decided I wanted them to know. I became an expert at putting on a mask every day, and hurting myself every night. This became my identity and unfortunately my competitive nature came out and influenced my harming too.
Those people who knew, they were amazing to me, caring for me, supporting me, and just being there when I was having a crappy day. You know who you are. Thank you, honestly I couldn’t have fought this battle without you.
I came to a point where I knew needed to stop, it was getting ridiculous, I thought “how could I not handle my emotions properly?!” (This is not the case, I just hadn’t learned good techniques of expressing emotion) I went to the doctors, who, initially were very on the ball with supporting me, but then this help dwindled very fast, and I completely fell off the system with the main message to me from the NHS being that I “wasn’t bad enough.” To say this to someone who is regularly hurting themselves, asking for help, and to someone who is competitive, was stupid, I realised later on in my recovery, but played a massive part in aiding self recovery. If I wasn’t going to get help from them, I still had to stop. A series of different things meant my self harming routine went out of the window, which helped me significantly. I was ready to stop, and without being ready I wouldn’t have got as far as I did.
Throughout all this I had a couple of people praying for me, and my walk with God was continuing, I was in a roller coaster journey of faith, but as I grew closer to God, I knew this was not the plan He had for me, He had much more, much better plans. These different things are what helped me stop. A drive to stop, a relationship with God, people caring for me, praying for me and changes in circumstances. The reality is though, without God I would still be harming, I try and thank Him as often as I can. He is the all powerful Daddy who loves and cares and wants what’s best for his kids, and this included me, and includes you.
The reason I’m writing this now is down to God as well, I’m comfortable that self harm and anxiety are part of my life, my story, my self harming happened for at least a couple of years, and I still constantly deal with anxiety. I’ve been challenged by God to share my story, I’ve been challenged to be bold and brave. I wouldn’t wish my experiences on any one, no way, but through God He can turn it to good, and that’s the place I’m in now. I can talk about it freely, I can be confident that talking about it won’t trigger me into wanting to harm again, and I can say, actually, this is a real issue for young people, for adults, for anyone, and the more people are honest about it the less people believe myths; for example self harm is purely attention seeking behaviour. The more people are honest about it, the more people can help, and support. Myths and stigma stop people seeking the help they need. And I long to do just that, support, help, care, pray. I believe God is going to use me for just that. Coming along side people who are struggling and giving them hope, and letting them know there is a way out.
I’m no expert but I have a story, and God can use my story to help others.
It is believed that 1 in 10 young people self harm, and these statistics are probably way off, as it does not include young people who don’t tell anyone. This is not just a problem for young people either, young children, adults and many elderly are being caught in the addiction of self harm, and they need hope. I hope this blog can encourage, even just one person, that there is hope, there is a way out, there is freedom. I battle temptations almost every day, but it’s okay because God is with me, and He is for me. Even if I give in once, God won’t leave me or ditch me, He keeps saying “Steph, I love you, and I don’t like to see you in pain, come back to me, you can find freedom, I promise.” And He keeps his promises.
And my freedom came because of Christ, because of His faithfulness, because of His continual and constant pursuit of us, and because of those He placed in my life around me.
1 Corinthians 15: 57 says this “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And my victory over self harm is because of Jesus, thank you Jesus.
Feel free to ask me questions, I’m very happy to answer!
Thank you for reading,
God Bless , Steph xx