Mandy’s story…

by Mandy Fenn-StoneMandy Stone

Hi,  you are probably thinking to yourself, “what is all this about?” – well stop thinking and let me explain. Well to start with, my name is Mandy (but most people call me Dee for short). I am a member of St. Margaret’s Parish Church and due to the help and support from the Church and finding my faith I am now a survivor of Self-Harming. The reason why I am trying to raise awareness within the Churches about Self-Harming is because I was a Self-Harmer for 14 years. It started when I was about 14 years old and I stopped 4 years ago. A lot of people tried to help me but couldn’t stop me from hurting myself.

Seeing me trying to kill myself bit by bit was hurting many people around me. It was a long hard road for the people because I started going to Church with my foster brother and it took a lot of prayer from a lot of people. On the 20th January 2002, I was christened and shortly after I took part in an Alpha Course and was later Confirmed.

For many reasons I rebelled against Christianity and the Church for about 9 months.

MandyF
I had reached rock bottom when I let Jesus into my life and have not self-harmed for 4 years, so for 14 years of self-harming and with all the help that obviously failed around me, the night that I asked Jesus into my life and to take over, he did and my life was just tops. I still had my ups and downs but I never felt the need to hurt myself any more. I knew that Jesus was me every day.

To me, if it wasn’t for the Church, their prayers and for telling me about Jesus, I wouldn’t be here telling you all about this. So that is why I feel that that Churches can help self-harmer’s to come out of it and to have a life beyond their belief. I have been doing a lot of research on Self-Harming and this is what we have come up with:

Approximately 142,000 Hospital admissions each year in England and Wales are the result of Self-Harming (Mental Health Foundation, 1999). Some of the reasons that they have come up with for this happening are;

CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES: Sexual Abuse 40% Bullying 30% Neglect 25% Emotional Abuse 25% Parental Divorce 20%

ADULT EXPERIENCES:  Rape/Sexually Abusive Experience 25% Lack of Support 25% Abusive Relationship 15% Even children as young as seven years old deliberately cut, bruise and burn themselves in secret. The Mental Health Foundation say that each year some 24,000 teenagers self-harm so badly that they are admitted to Hospital. In the last month, Childline has seen an alarming increase of almost 30% a year in the number of callers who injure their own bodies according to the National Inquiry into self-harming.

The Charity received 4,300 such calls in 2003/4. More than 60% cut, bruised, banged their heads against walls, pulled their hair out or burnt themselves. Many children harm themselves up to 10 times a day and some say it is the only way they can deal with the pressure that daily life triggers – these pressures include Bullying, Abusive Parents, and Parental Divorce.

There is also some evidence that self-harm is part of a group activity and children are being pressurised into doing so. Self-Harming behaviour does not necessarily mean the person has been abused. It could be because somewhere along the line they did not learn good ways of coping with overwhelming thoughts or feelings. It does not mean that the person is sick or disgusting or as some people say – “sick in the head”. It is just that they have never learned positive ways to deal with their thoughts/feelings. Most people who self-harm tend to be perfectionists, who are unable to handle intense feelings, are unable to express their emotions verbally, have dislike for themselves and their bodies and can experience severe mood swings. They may turn to self-harming as a way to express their feelings and emotions, or as a way to punish themselves. You may be wondering why someone would intentionally harm themselves.

Self-harming can help someone relieve intense feelings such as anger, sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt and emotional pain. It has been proven scientifically that the body releases a chemical called Seratonin which when released, leaves the body feeling calm. Many people who cut themselves do this in an attempt to try and release all the emotions they are feeling internally. Others may feel so numb that when they see their own blood when they cut, it makes them feel alive because they usually feel so dead inside.

Some people find that dealing with physical pain is easier than dealing with emotional pain. Self-harming is also used as a way to punish themselves. If they were abused they may feel ashamed, guilty and blame themselves for the abuse, which in turn causes them to feel the need to punish themselves by inflicting pain on their bodies. Some people have such hatred for themselves and their bodies that they will carve demeaning names into their skin as a way of reminding them of how terrible they are. It is like when I think back to my self-harming and the way that I would be feeling. It is like the anxiety of my inner battle was becoming unbearable, I wanted to let something out. The anxiety would have been so easy to give in to, whereby then I would again lose all awareness of my surroundings and myself.

I would cry and look desperately into my eyes reflected in the mirror, wanting to know the answers to the way out of my mental prison. I began to cut myself in anger and hate my own body. I was sure that I had feelings but they didn’t seem to show. I became very violent towards myself. The world around me was becoming as unforgiving and intolerant as I was to myself. I would lay down after a violent outburst and fall asleep, very drunk. Sometimes I would wake up in another part of the room, hiding from something in the room which only my sleeping mind had seen, so I would get up, have more drink and drugs and cut again to stop the feelings. Then I would lie there in silence until it was light. There was so much silence in my head and everything else seemed a thousand miles away. My energy was gone, I would stare at the ceiling of my bedroom, the silence inside my head was so loud. The more I kept to myself, or kept others at a distance, the clearer things become. I would return to this state and would only then feel I was being true to myself.

Having Jesus in my life now has made me look at things in a very different light. You see, to be an anybody, anywhere is to look into the eyes of someone who matters to you and know that they don’t care what or who you are, where you have been or what you have achieved. To be an anybody, anywhere is to look into those eyes and know that if you see love there, then you have earned it. Not for being a walking achievement or an interesting case or a social inspiration or a charity case, but just for being you. That is the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. A loving and understanding heart, not someone that is looking at what you did, He looks at what you will become. I have now found the best friendship and a sense of belonging and the love that I have always longed for. The mask that I had hidden behind for so long has now gone and I am no longer a label but a child of God. 1 John 4.18: – There is no fear in love, perfect love drives out all fear. So then love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. We love because God first loved us.

JESUS HEALED ONE MAN WHO’S NAME WAS MOB ( MARK 5:2,5 )

If you look at it from a Christian side you will see that self-harming was going on 2000 years ago when Jesus healed Mob. Mark ( 5:2,5 ).  As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, he was met by a man who come out of the burial caves, there this man had an evil spirit in him and lived among the tombs. Nobody could keep him chained up any more; many time’s his feet and hands had been chained but every time he broke the chains and smashed the irons on his feet he was too strong for anyone to control him. Day and night he wandered among the tombs and through the hills screaming and CUTTING HIMSELF WITH STONES. You see even then, people didn’t understand and found it frightening.

Prayer for Salvation…..

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PRAYER FOR SALVATION 

by Jennifer Valentine

“Dear Lord, I am sorry for bad things I have done in my life and ask You to forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I ask you to come into my heart, help me with my problems and help me to follow you.  Amen”

City Gates WOMEN’S OUTREACH and The Way Out Project Regularly goes out on the streets of East London, reaching out to and spending time with the women who live and work on the streets.

Fight the Good Fight

by Jennifer Valentine-Miller

If like me you have been involved in a few tussles over the years, can you also say that some of the worse confrontations were with those you thought understood you or those you were close to?  There are at least three things that can be done when being confronted or attacked. One can stand there and be insulted, move away from the situation, or defend ones-self.
In the book of Timothy we are told, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” What are you or I to do then?  “Fight the good fight of faith.” That sounds great but, what exactly is the “fight of faith” especially when there is a sense of feeling so alone. Hence, I add YOU ARE NOT alone.  Others are also fighting too, and within that there is the awareness that I or you are not the sad deceived soul who needs to get a life.  Our enemy wants us to think we are the odd one out. The more this thought pattern is eliminated from our minds, the stronger we will grow.  This is why the enemy has tries to keep us isolated.  I am told that solitary confinement is the worst place to be in prison. In order to or us to fight we need to be strong and to attempt fighting whilst in confinement will place you only two steps backwards from where you are now.

For most people a good fight is a fight that you win.  That is why therefore we must never give up. The stakes are too high. Quitting is not an option. To quit is to admit defeat. Any soldier or those in the middle of a battle have to go through a course of training before they receive an assignment. During this time they go through a very rigorous physical and mental time of training.

The sole purpose of this training is to get us ready and prepared to do the job, and be properly equipped to do whatever it takes to get the job done even under the harshest environments. However we are not doing physical battle such as what military soldiers do, we are doing spiritual battle and the training we do is in the spiritual realm. We have been given God’s amour to do battle, to defend ourselves from the onslaught of the enemy, and to take back what has been rightfully purchased for us. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a fight; it means we just keep on fighting with God’s spiritual weapons. This means that with our eyes of understanding, we have an answer.

Be aware that the enemy will work overtime to keep us from seeing the key issue of the battle. Any fighter without endurance is a fighter who will eventually give up especially during the  time of mental  battle.

Copyright © Jennifer Valentine 2012

Healing From Damaged Emotions

HEALING FOR DAMAGED EMOTIONS
For what ever reason there are many individuals whose emotions are strained from all its natural resources. However, there are far too many who also keep a hold of their mental strains!

There are those too who keep up outward observances by praying but inwardly they are going deeper and deeper into disillusionment and despair. There are those whose problems were buried underground, now only find that they reappear later in all manner of illnesses, eccentricities, terribly unhappy marriages. Sometimes this can lead to the cause of emotional destructive children. There are many Christians for example who have found release from emotional hang ups and by experiencing the healing memories through God’s way of repairing. The result is wholeness and transformation for those crippled with emotional despair.

Just like a tree, the rings of the bark reveal their developmental history year after year and the autobiography of its growth. The rings are the scars of long stand painful hurts, which cause all kinds of interpersonal difficulties.

Within the rings lie our long suffering thoughts and emotions which deeply and effectively affect ones concepts, feelings and relationships.

We are made aware that counsellors constantly have to pick up the pieces of people who have been utterly disillusioned and devastated because immature Christians have tried to cast out imaginary demons. And we all know what the simplistic syndrome is. It is instructions like: read your Bible, pray, have more faith, and the most classic being you would never get depressed if you didn’t have these hang-ups. Those who say such things are not only being far from the truth but they are also being extremely insensitive towards someone who has a deep emotionally rooted problem. But most importantly, they are denying that person the pastoral care they so desperately need.

I discovered three good pointers when reading the book *Healing from Damaged Emotions by David Seamands:

(1) Does an individual want to be healed? This is what Jesus asked the sick man who was lame for thirty years (John 5:6). Do you really want to be healed or do you just want to talk about your problems.

(2) Prayer: We need to continually ask the Holy Spirit to show us what are problems are, and ask Him how we need to pray. The book of James reminds us that sometimes we do not receive because we pray for the wrong things (James 4:3)

(3) Forgiving yourself: Many will say, yes, I know that I am forgiven but I cannot forgive myself. Terms cannot be contradicted; God cannot forgive us unless we forgive ourselves. It has also been quoted that areas of darkness are buried in the sea of forgetfulness and forgiveness.  Corrie Ten Boom (a survivor from the Nazi’s occupation of Holland) once said “He then puts a sign on our past emotions which says No Fishing!  Let us not entertain our past hurts.  Leave them with Him and just walk away.

Copyright © Jennifer Valentine 2012

*Seamands, David (1981), Healing From Damaged Emotions