Posts Tagged ‘cutting’

Self-Injury (Cutting): Resources! (6 of 6)

Okay…last post about this! I hope they all made sense.

Here are some links: (Most of these links also have more links)

Teen Depression Site (More links at site)

Choose to Live Free (Site about finding FREEDOM from self-injury)

End All the Pain (Self-Injury site)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E.) (Self-Injury site that gives alternatives while a self-injurer works on the deeper issues in life)

How to End Self Injury

Focus on the Family (They have some good articles about sef-injury)

Jan Kern (Great site with books and resources about teen issues)

Lifeway (Biblical Solutions for families)

Discovery Health (Interesting article with stories of those affected)

Deeper Devotion (A site for Christian students)

Bleeding Hearts (Article about how Christians can help)

Self-Injury (Cutting): How to Help! (5 of 6)

depressedgirl.jpg“In some ways, it was the only control I felt I had at the time, I felt rejected. My mother was a counselor but didn’t have time to talk to me. My father lived in a different state. Boyfriends failed me, and I didn’t know Jesus for who he was. I wanted something that I could control, a sense of power—and cutting gave that to me.”

The decision to stop “Cutting” is not an easy one to make for the person that is doing it. In order for them to be successful, the decision needs to come from the person that struggles with it. The individual has to own the personal decision in order for change to start taking place. There is hope and a new way of living but they need to declare his/her own right to walk in the freedom that Jesus offers.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4 to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” and to “be made new in the attitude of your minds.” It is up to us to make a personal decision to leave the old habits behind and start practicing new ones. We are responsible to renew our minds, according to Romans 12:2. We must put aside the old nature and start living in our new nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

So, how can you help someone that is involved in self-injury?

- Educate yourself on it. Later, I will be posting a ton of links!

- One of the worst things we can do is expect someone to react or feel the same way that we would! We have to be able to sit back and see what they are feeling.

- If someone comes to you, it is important that you do not overreact to their confession in a way that will intensify their assumptions of being “rejected.” They are people deeply hurting that may not know how to deal with their current problems.

- The best thing you can offer is a real extension of the love that Jesus offers! BE A LISTENER! Hearing how someone hurt themselves in this manner can be shocking and disturbing to you, but do not let your personal emotions make them feel worst for not knowing what else to do.

- Let them know you do not see them as “weird” or “abnormal”, but rather as a real person with real hurting emotions. Let your friend know you understand that self-injury has become a means in which to help him/her cope with their internal pain. He/She is not “bad” or “mad” for doing it. They just simply need assurance that things can get better and that there are other means in which they can deal with life problems without hurting themselves.

- Depending on how things are going, be willing to discuss the thought of going to see professional help. Many times that is exactly what is needed to break through this.

- You must be careful with this, but self-injury is not a suicide attempt! Don’t automatically assume that they are attempting to take their life. However, if there is a sign of really deep cuts, or you you have a valid reason to believe that they are suicidel, then get professional help immediately! Don’t ever try to counsel someone about suicide if you are not qualified!! Get help immediately!

- Realize that change takes time! If someone has been self-injuring for three years, it’s unlikely (although not impossible) that they’ll stop overnight. Stopping isn’t just ending the behavior; it’s replacing it with other things, which is much more difficult.

NEVER SAY STUFF LIKE THE FOLLOWING:

- “You shouldn’t be doing this. Your life isn’t that bad.”
You may not know all of the story. Even parents can sometimes be unaware of the difficult things their child may be dealing with. What matters, though, is that the person who’s self-injuring is struggling somehow. From their point of view, something is going wrong. You can help them most by respecting this fact, and by supporting them as they fight through this.

- “I could never do that to myself.”
You may never have cut yourself on purpose, but you’ve probably had times when you were under a lot of stress and did something you’re not so proud of now. Even if you can’t imagine self-injuring, you can probably imagine doing something out of desperation to survive a really difficult time. When you look at it through that lens, it’s not so different after all.

- “I couldn’t do that–it would hurt too much.”
Actually, many self-injurers feel little or no pain when they self-injure. The body makes endorphins, a natural painkiller, causing the self-injurer to feel less pain than a person would normally feel from such injuries.

- “That’s so gross.”
Let’s be honest, that’s just not the appropriate thing to say right then!

- “You’re just doing it for attention.”
If your friend were purposefully showing their scars in order to try to get someone to change his or her behavior, then maybe you could make a case that she is doing it partially for attention. Most self-injurers, however, keep their scars carefully hidden and avoid telling others about their self-injury. Either way, don’t just start accusin. Be there for them.

ALSO, DON’T:

- Don’t threaten or give ultimatums. The fact is, you can’t threaten someone out of self-injury. The threats will create more stress, which will increase the person’s desire to self-injure. If they do manage to avoid self-injuring, they may use another unhealthy coping skill instead: anorexia, bulimia, alcohol, or drugs, for instance. Threats rarely produce lasting and healthy change in a person.

- Don’t go berserk! As hard as it is to do, the best thing you can do is react (somewhat) calmly.

- Don’t make them show their scars, especially if you already know that they’re self-injuring. Body privacy is very important to self-injurers, and forcing someone to show their scarred forearms may humiliate them. If she doesn’t want to wear short sleeves or a swimsuit, don’t pressure them to do so–it may be easier for them not to self-injure when their scars are covered.

HERE’S WHAT YOU COULD TRY SAYING:

- “Is there a way I can help you get through the crisis times?”
If you have a good relationship with the person who’s self-injuring, you might offer to do what you can when they are really struggling. Some self-injurers find it helpful to talk with someone else about what they’re feeling; others prefer to do something different to distract them. Either way, this is a great way for a self-injurer to make it through difficult times without self-injuring.

- “I’m so sorry you’re hurting so much inside.”
The injuries are secondary. What’s more important is the fact that they felt that they needed to do those things. It’s better to acknowledge that they were hurting inside than to focus on the visible scars.

- “Can you help me learn more about self-injury?”
A question like this would indicate your willingness to learn about their struggles. If she doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you about it, then maybe they would like to recommend a book or a web site.

- “How can I pray for you?”
If you mean it. This is one of many ways to let a person know that you care.

I read this quote the other week that I really liked: “While self-injury can be a squeamish topic, it’s an important one. And no matter how this behavior appears to the outside world, God views these teens and their parents through a lens of worth.”

I will be posting plenty of links and resources later!

Self-Injury (Cutting): Find Healing! (4 of 6)

picture_teen_cutting_1.jpgpicture_teen_cutting_1.jpg“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy. He brought me out into a spacious place; HE RESCUED ME BECAUSE HE DELIGHTED IN ME.” Psalm 18:16-17,19

I have decided to go with a sixth post in order to be able to fit all this stuff in. In this post I will give some steps to find healing for people that are involved in self-injury. The next post (fifth) will be how people can offer help to someone involved in SI.

STEPS FOR THOSE INVOLVED IN SELF-INJURY!

1. Accept Jesus as your primary source of help! Jesus died and rose again so that we could be free and forgiven (1 Peter 3:18) from the mistakes we make. It is so hard for us sometimes to acknowledge that God’s love is completely different from any love any human can offer! Even when you feel you can’t go to anyone on this earth, Jesus wants to be your bestfriend, and he qualifies for the greatest bestfriend you could EVER have. He wants to sit with you when you are hurting. (Psalm 34:18) He wants you to tell him everything you are feeling. (Psalm 10:17-18) He knows it all already so you might as well tell him about it, right??? He will not turn away from you and leave you abandoned. He wants a personal relationship with you because you are His most prized possession!(1 John 4:9-10) What you have done in your past, He will forgive if you ask…what He longs for is for you to come to Him with an honest heart (Hebrews 4:16) and make it right, ask for forgiveness if you’ve done something wrong, ask Him to take away the shame, guilt, or self hatred you may feel about yourself or someone that has hurt you.

2. You MUST decide to change your way of coping! One thing is certain according to Romans 6:18, he has set us free. The problem is we have allowed the circumstances of our environment (problems) to take control of our minds and we begin to live life through our feelings, instead of the spirit God has put in us when we accept Him into our life.

3. Be honest with someone trustworthy! ACCOUNTABILITY! Find a parent, church leader, teacher, or close friend that you can confide in. If you go to someone and talk about the urge, it will help you reduce the feelings you may be experiencing at the moment. Begin to build a network of godly friends that you can be honest with. Help them help you by instructing them on what you expect from them and how they can be of support to you. If you only want them to lend a listening ear to help you process what you are thinking and feeling, then you will have to let them know. If you want them to ask you specific questions when they see you, then tell them what questions you want them to ask. If you want them to pray for you, simply request it.

4. Come up with an action plan that works for you! (see below)

Questions to ask yourself when forming an action plan (This works for many situations):

- Have I made a personal decision to stop hurting myself?

- Have I chosen to surrender my desires to “cut” to Jesus and allow Him to help me through this process?

- Have I told at least two other people that I am going to stop hurting myself and have asked them to hold me accountable?

- Have I discussed with my accountability group what I need and expect from them?

- Have I established how many times I will meet or “check in” with my accountability group?

- Have I made a decision to confess my sins to God and my accountability group? (James 5:16 “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”)

- When being tempted, have I decided to seek out help beforehand while I still have spiritual strength and not wait until it’s too late when I am weak?

- Clean House: Have I collected all my “cutting” objects and have disposed of them myself ?

- Have I put together a list of at least ten things I can do to wait out the wave of temptation instead of hurting myself? (IDEAS: Pray, Put ice packs on your wrists, exercise, listen to up-beat music, watch TV, call your accountability partner, journal etc…)

- Have I thought of not putting myself in situations that will cause me to be tempted to cutting? If so, what are my boundaries?

- As an exercise to work on expressing my feelings, will I journal (at least twice a week) about how and what I “felt” that particular day, then, identify if that “feeling” helped me stay strong or if it tempted me to hurt myself? 

- Have I made a decision to not “quit” but to persevere no matter how tough it may get?  (I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. Philippians 4:13)

- Have I accepted the fact that I am not perfect, but my faith is being perfected through Christ? (Philippians 1:6)

- Have I committed to daily put effort in acknowledging God as my best help for the day through prayer, bible reading, memorization of scripture, worship, or devotional readings?

Most importantly, don’t give up just like God doesn’t give up on us!

Again, in the next post I will give some things that can help a friend or family member of someone that cuts themselves.

Self-Injury (Cutting): The Signs (3 of 6)

hdc_0000_0001_0_img0019.jpgThis is a pretty tough subject to talk or write about because it is HARDLY EVER talked or written about. The amount of people treated for self-injury (SI) has tripled in the past year. So many more don’t get help. In this post, I am going to talk more about the signs of SI, and then in post four and five, I will write about how to get help / help someone and give tons of links and resources for getting the appropriate help.

About 60% percent of self-injurers have experienced some heavy emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

Most resources and research articles on SI give a profile of a person involved in this.  “She’s female in her mid-20′s to early 30s, and has been cutting herself since her teens. She’s intelligent , middle or upper-middle class, and well educated. She also comes from a home where she was physically and/or sexually abused and has at least one alcoholic parent.” Females are NOT the only one’s that struggle with this. As it is more common with females, men do struggle with it as well. Most psychologists say that females do it more because they deal with emotions differently than most men do.

Again, here are some signs that a friend or family member might be involved in this:

- Multiple scratches, cuts or scars in a random or linear pattern

- Finding razor blades, lighters or objects that could be used for self injury hidden in a teenagers bedroom

- Wearing long sleeves often in even hot/warm weather

- Wearing stacked bracelets on the wrist or ankle

- When inquiring about scars or cuts, you get answers that just don’t seem to fit the injury or vague answers 

The most common places to find cuts are the arms, legs, and stomach.

I  encourage you that if you see the signs of SI that you respond and ask! Don’t be afraid to step up. It’s better for you to ask and be wrong than to not ask and not be available to help. Don’t worry about not knowing exactly what to say as long as you are non-judgemental, non-accusatory, supportive, caring and open…that’s what’s important!

Remember, cutting is a behavioral sign of a deeper underlying problem. The goal should not be to just “stop cutting,” but to treat the deeper problem so your friend/family member develops better coping skills and no longer feels the need to self-injure.  

If you ever feel in any way that someone you know may be harming themselves, or are even dealing with thoughts of suicide, then DON’T STAY SILENT! Depending on the nature of what is going on…talk to a parent, someone you trust, call 911, seek professional help from a doctor or counselor. I will be hitting the best ways of dealing with SI in the next post, both for the self-injurer and for the friend or family member.

Again, the information that I have collected for these posts might not cover EVERY single sign, motive, or method of SI. I am in no way an expert in this matter, but I deeply care about finding hep for those that struggle with this. I can only fit so much information in these posts, but I will be sure to give tons of links and resources in the last post.

Self-Injury (Cutting): Why? (2 of 6)

warning-signs.jpgwarning-signs.jpgI gave a little preview of this subject HEREover the weekend. I am on an e-mail list with hundreds of other student ministry workers. It’s a great way for you to submit questions and ideas in an open forum. It seems like a lot this past year, people have been asking about how to help teenagers that are deliberately injuring themselves by “cutting”. The only problem is that no one really could come up with practical ways to help these teens.

This is a difficult subject, but it’s something that is very real and is affecting so many teenagers and adults.

Cutting is a form of Self-Injury (SI) and is when you make scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object — enough to break the skin and make it bleed. There are many other forms of SI, but cutting is the most common one.

So…WHY do they do it?

This is the question that I kept asking over and over again until recently. Through studying this, there are three basic “reasons” why people are led to do this to themselves.

1. They do it in order to make an outward expression of inner pain. It often makes them focus on the outer physical pain instead of the inner emotional pain.

2. They do it as an act of communication. They are trying to communicate to people around them that they are going through a great deal of inner pain. It is hard for them to communicate their need for help properly. This reason is less common.

3. They do it for control or self-punishment. Many people that do this look at their body as the one thing that they CAN control. They also use SI to help themselves break other habits. The pain acts as a reminder the next time they try to do something that they are trying to stop.

So…How does it usually start?

It often begins on an impulse. I read about one girl that said, “It starts when something’s really upsetting and you don’t know how to talk about it or what to do. But you can’t get your mind off feeling upset, and your body has this knot of emotional pain. Before you know it, you’re cutting yourself. And then somehow, you’re in another place. Then, the next time you feel awful about something, you try it again — and slowly it becomes a habit.”

Another girl said, “I never looked at it as anything that bad at first — just my way of getting my mind off feelings of rejection and helplessness. I guess part of me must have known it was a bad thing to do, though, because I always hid it. Once a friend asked me if I was cutting myself and I even lied and said ‘no.’ I was embarrassed.”

The most important thing to realize is that stopping someone from “cutting” is not the main solution. They will just replace the cutting with another habbit (drugs, sex, alcohol etc…). You have to be able to dive deeper. There is something going on in the person’s heart that needs to be fixed.

More to come!

Self Injury Among Teenagers (1 of 6)

r174979_663925.jpgSomeone, somewhere, commits suicide every 18 minutes!

There is an approximate THREE MILLION teenagers, ages 12-17,  each year that think seriously about suicide. Roughly one third, 37 percent, actual tried to do it. Many succeeded.

Good news: Suicide rates among teenagers are dropping each year.

Bad news: Self-Injury among teenagers is on the rise! 

What is self-injury? It is when someone deliberately hurts/injures themselves without the intent of suicide.

I always thought that this was too rare of a thing to make a big deal out of. I was wrong! Over the years, I have heard so many stories about the secret lives of teenagers that hurt themselves (most often in the form of cutting). This is a very serious issue, and is very difficult to detect. Most teenagers that are involved in this are from middle to upper class families, and often have loving parents. Guys and girls both are affected by this, but it is primarily affecting girls. Often, by the time that someone involved in this gets help, they are in there mid to upper twenties, and have been hurting themselves since they were a teenager.

This next week, I will be blogging about self-injury, and specifically about “cutting”. I am doing this in order to help educate myself, and also just to do my part in making people aware of what is going on, and WHY so many people choose to do this. My goal is to inform people about the signs of it, the seriousness of it, and how to get help. I have been studying this for a while now after several people have approached me about someone they knew that was hurting themselves.

I will post resources, links etc…

(As to not be too depressing on here this weekend, I will be posting a video blog about our anniversary trip later) :)