What It's Like to Be a Christian Recovering From Self-Harm
Article updated August 12, 2019.
It’s early Monday morning, and I’ve been working for hours on this project that my whole college career depends on. I start to think about how I have to take four summer classes and nine fall classes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree this December. The stress is too much. Without another thought, I stand up, go to the kitchen, grab a knife and make three quick cuts in my left forearm.
Between that instance and the following Thursday morning, I had nine different cutting sessions. By that Thursday, my arm was covered in countless cuts, at various stages of healing. It was becoming an addiction. Whenever I thought about stress, loneliness, comparing myself to others or anything “stupid” I had ever done, I felt the urge to drag a knife across my skin.
I wish I could say that was years ago. I wish I could say that was months or weeks ago. I sit here in my school library, having stopped cutting two days ago. That’s right: two days clean. It’s hard to type this because it’s such a fresh and new experience. However, I need to get this out. And to any others out there struggling with self-harm, I need you to know it’s going to be OK. It might not feel like it, but I promise you are loved. I know you can get through this.
They make it sound so easy to be a Christian. “Once you give your life to Jesus, all your problems will go away!” is what people seem to think. I hate to break it to you, but that’s not the case. If anything, things become more difficult. I do not regret becoming a Christian. However, there’s a little bit of a stigma going around the Church and Christian community. I need everyone to see that I’m OK. If they see any problems, they’ll think my God can’t fix things, or I’m not praying enough. I know I’m not supposed to care what others think. But if it was that easy to stop caring, I would have done it already.
Internally, there’s a war going on. Whenever I wanted to cut, there was always that still small voice telling me to bring my anxieties to the Lord. I ignored it and chose the knife instead. I was allowing my addiction to control me. The pain on my arm felt so good whenever I got stressed. I just wanted to feel something other than my anxiety.
I was taking matters into my own hands instead of bringing it to the Cross.
As a Christ-follower, you’re supposed to love God and others before yourself. But how can I love others when I can’t even love myself? This thought drove me to cut even more.
Here’s what drove me to stop my self-harm: I confided in people. I told my roommate, who told the Residential Director of my dorm building. Most people would have been mad, but I couldn’t be more grateful. I knew my roommate wouldn’t have told someone if she didn’t care. That decision on her part showed me the love I so desperately wanted to feel. This was two days ago. After my RD met with me, I made the decision to stop my self-harm for good. I willingly gave her my knives. I told my roommate to hide her knives. And then, I turned to my God. It was so hard to put down the knife and pick up my Bible. One of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. But now I sit here two days clean, and I couldn’t feel more blessed. Yesterday, my first day clean, was a beautiful day. My friends laughed, smiled and joked with me. They didn’t know the battle I was dealing with, but they did more for me than they knew.
So here’s something that I want to leave you with: kindness matters. Whether you follow Christ or not, I urge you to take these words to heart. I’ll say it again: kindness matters. The kindness of my friends reassured me that I made the right choice: to stop my self-harm once and for all.
I am so grateful for the love of Christ that envelopes me in peace. There is hope for those who feel like they’re drowning in depression. If this is you, I urge you to confide in someone. You’ll be surprised at how much they care! I promise you, there is someone who cares.
In closing, I’d like to recite the words of an old hymn: “Whatever my lot, You have taught me to say: it is well, it is well with my soul.” Sitting here in my long-sleeves in the school library, I’m just going to recite this to myself. Feel free to join me. “It is well with my soul.”
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