Self- Harm & Trauma

What is self-harm?

Taken from  the U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs  which is found  HERE.

Self-harm refers to a person harming his/her own body on purpose. Other terms for self-harm are “self-abuse” or “cutting.” Overall, a person who self-harms does not mean to kill himself or herself.

Self-harm tends to begin in teen or early adult years. Some people may engage in self-harm a few times and then stop. Others engage in it more often and have trouble stopping the behavior. Self-harm is related to trauma in that those who self-harm are likely to have been abused in childhood.

How common is self-harm?

The rates of self-harm vary widely, depending on how researchers pose their questions about it. It is estimated that in the general public, 2% to 6% engage in self-harm at some point in their lives. Among students, the rates are higher, ranging from 13% to 35%.

Rates of self-harm are also higher among those in treatment for mental health problems. Those in treatment who have a diagnosis of PTSD are more likely to engage in self-harm than those without PTSD.

What are self-harmers like?

Self-harmers, as compared to others, have more frequent and more negative feelings such as fear or worry, depression, and aggressive impulses. Links have also been found between self-harm and feeling numb or feeling as if you’re outside your body. Often those who self-harm have low self-esteem, and they do not tend to express their feelings. The research is not clear on whether self-harm is more common in women or men.

Those who self-harm appear to have higher rates of PTSD and other mental health problems. Self-harm is most often related to going through trauma in childhood rather than as an adult. Those who self-harm have high rates of:

  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Emotional neglect
  • Bonds with caregivers that are not stable or secure
  • Long separations from caregivers

Those who self-harm very often have a history of childhood sexual abuse. For example, in one group of self-harmers, 93% said they had been sexually abused in childhood. Some research has looked at whether certain aspects of childhood sexual abuse increase the risk that survivors will engage in self-harm as adults. The findings show that more severe, more frequent, or longer-lasting sexual abuse is linked to an increased risk of engaging in self-harm in one’s adult years.

Why do people engage in self-harm?

While many ideas have been offered, the answer to this question may vary from person to person. The reasons that are most often given are “To distract yourself from painful feelings” and “To punish yourself.” Research on the reasons for self-harm suggests that people engage in self harm to:

  • Decrease symptoms of feeling numb or as if you are outside your body or yourself
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Block upsetting memories and flashbacks
  • Show a need for help
  • Ensure that you will be safe and protected
  • Express and release distress
  • Reduce anger
  • Punish self
  • Hurt self instead of others

How is self-harm treated?

Self-harm is a problem that many people are embarrassed or ashamed to discuss. Often, they try to hide their self-harm behaviors. They may hold back from getting mental health or even medical treatment.

Self-harm is often seen with other mental health problems like PTSD or substance abuse. For this reason, it does not tend to be treated separately from the other mental health problems. Some research suggests, though, that adding in a round of therapy focused just on the self-harming behavior may result in less self-harming.

There have not yet been strong studies on using medicine to treat self-harm behaviors. For this reason, experts have not reached agreement on whether medicines should be used to treat self-harm behaviors.

Sources

This fact sheet is based on a more detailed version, located in the “Professional” section of our website:Self-Harm and Trauma: Research Findings

 

How Karen Carpenter’s Death Changed the Way We Talk About Anorexia

Feb. 4, 1983: Musician Karen Carpenter dies at 32 from health complications related to anorexia

After being called chubby as a teenager, Karen Carpenter began dieting. When she slimmed down from 145 to 120 lbs., her friends and family praised her weight loss. It was only after her weight continued to plummet, dropping to a skeletal 90 lbs. in the mid-1970s, that they realized her health was in jeopardy.

The lead singer of The Carpenters, the Grammy-winning band she’d formed with her brother, died on this day, Feb. 4, in 1983, of heart failure related to her years-long struggle with anorexia. She was 32.

Carpenter’s death raised awareness of the dangers of eating disorders, which had until then been little publicized or understood. For a generation of women who saw Twiggy as an icon of the ideal body shape, it also proved — as TIME concluded in 1989, when summing up the moral of a docudrama about Carpenter’s life — that it was, in fact, possible to be too thin.

Carpenter was the first celebrity casualty of an eating disorder, according to Randy Schmidt, the author of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter. After her death, however, other public figures shared their own struggles with anorexia and bulimia, most notably Princess Diana.

Two years after Carpenter’s death, a group of doctors and therapists who specialized in treating eating disorders lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to ban over-the-counter sales of the vomit-inducing drug ipecac, which Carpenter had reportedly been taking to keep from gaining weight — and which had overtaxed her already weak heart.

Her therapist told the New York Times he believed tens of thousands of American women, desperate to lose weight, were abusing ipecac, “a drug that was not known until very recently as an abusive drug.” Ipecac had long been used to purge the stomachs of poisoning victims, but its repeated use led to heart problems and muscle weakness.

Whether from ipecac or from malnourishment alone, Carpenter was so weak by the mid-’70s that she could do little more than lie down between shows. Her exhaustion forced the band to cancel a 1975 European tour while she slept 14 to 16 hours a day, according to Schmidt’s biography.

While everyone around her was worried, no one knew exactly how to help. Schmidt quotes Carpenter’s bandmate John Bettis on their misguided attempts to nurse her back to health. “Anorexia nervosa was so new that I didn’t even know how to pronounce it until 1980,” Bettis told the biographer. “From the outside the solution looks so simple. All a person has to do is eat. So we were constantly trying to shove food at Karen.”

Their efforts were in vain, however. Audiences gasped when Carpenter emerged onstage in silky sleeveless dresses, Schmidt writes; concerned fans feared she was dying from cancer. While her voice, a lush contralto, stayed strong, critics took note of her increasingly bony frame.

A Variety review of one performance, cited by Schmidt, complained, “She is terribly thin, almost a wraith, and should be gowned more becomingly.”

Taken from   Time.com  which can be found     HERE.

A Word From Charles Spurgeon On Depression

Charles Spurgeon is a Christian treasure and his works are influential to this day.  When a believer is struck with depression or another mental illness life often becomes  quite dark and confusing.  I believe it’s important for all of us to realize the most Godly among us struggle exactly as we do.  Charles Spurgeon was a man afflicted like so many of us.  I have run this article annually since 2008.  Allan

“I know that wise brethren say, ‘You should not give way to feelings of depression.’ If those who blame quite so furiously could once know what depression is, they would think it cruel to scatter blame where comfort is needed. There are experiences of the children of God which are full of spiritual darkness; and I am almost persuaded that those of God’s servants who have been most highly favoured have, nevertheless, suffered more times of darkness than others.

“The covenant is never known to Abraham so well as when a horror of great darkness comes over him, and then he sees the shining lamp moving between the pieces of the sacrifice. A greater than Abraham was early led of the Spirit into the wilderness, and yet again ere He closed His life He was sorrowful and very heavy in the garden.

“No sin is necessarily connected with sorrow of heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ There was no sin in Him, and consequently none in His deep depression.

“I would, therefore, try to cheer any brother who is sad, for his sadness is not necessarily blameworthy. If his downcast spirit arises from unbelief, let him flog himself, and cry to God to be delivered from it; but if the soul is sighing–’though he slay me, yet will I trust in him’–its being slain is not a fault.

“The way of sorrow is not the way of sin, but a hallowed road sanctified by the prayers of myriads of pilgrims now with God–pilgrims who, passing through the valley of Baca [lit: of weeping], made it a well, the rain also filled the pools: of such it is written: ‘They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.’
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1881, vol. 27, p. 1595

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassions and God of all comfort, who encourages us in all our affliction, that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction, through the comfort by which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comfort also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, being effective in the endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are encouraged, it is for your comfort and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the comfort. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened exceedingly, beyond strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us, in whom we hope that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given through many persons on our behalf for the gracious gift granted to us by many.” (2Corinthians1:3-11)

Michael Newnham: Ephesians 1:1 Grace & Peace To You

Taken from the Phoenix Preacher which can be found    HERE.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Ephesians 1:1–2 ESV)

I’m starting a study tonight in our church on the book of Ephesians.

I thought perhaps some would like to study along with us.

We’ll see how it goes…

Don’t Skip the Salutation! 

Our study opens with a greeting from Paul to his readers.

We usually don’t make much of these verses, because, well, they’re just a greeting.

Don’t do that…there’s gold here.

Paul isn’t just delivering a greeting from himself but also “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

The Father and the Son say “grace to you and peace”.

Let me encourage you to personalize this and “make your own application”.

If Jesus were to appear before you where you are right now the first things He would speak to you are words of grace and peace.

No matter where you think you are spiritually, no matter how distant God seems…that’s the message…He brings you grace and peace.

Grace…for all those sins that you think separate you from the love of God.

Peace… God is not mad at you.

Whenever you think about God, those are the places you should start from and end at.

You want to believe that, but you also read… the greeting was for the “faithful in Christ Jesus”.

You aren’t very faithful.

Neither am I.

The part you need to understand is that if you’re “in Christ”, you’re counted faithful…because He was faithful in your place.

Now, that’s good news…and it’s just the beginning.

Next week we’ll talk about being “in Christ”.

Grace and peace to you, my friends.

There Is Hope For You

Watch the news lately?  It’s not such an uplifting experience be it local, state, national, or international news.  There’s no escaping the fact that bad things are happening everywhere at any moment of the day. No matter the size or scope of the event lives are impacted in very real and negative ways.

God’s word tells us He will never leave or forsake us and that nothing can separate us from His love. He has the hairs on our heads counted. He takes note when a sparrow falls to the ground.

Yet we also read in scripture these two verses.

John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

Acts 14:22  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

I will not attempt to explain why some of God’s children experience so much more than others. Volumes have been written by scholars through the ages grappling with this issue. I can only confirm the reality of it. Following are some of the ways these tribulations come about.

A young couple suddenly loses their only child by illness or a sudden tragedy.  A high school student or college coed is raped. A family loses their father/husband to an automobile accident. A bystander witnesses a terrible crime or accident. A young soldier sees and does things no person should have to do. People lose loved ones due to an act of terror. The list goes on.

In each instance I described quite often the forgotten victims are the survivors. News cycles come and go so quickly there are always new tragedies to report on and soon the old is forgotten by the viewer or reader. Not so for the survivors. Their lives go on unobserved except by those closest to them.  Yet their struggles are quite real and at the same time don’t escape the omniscient eye of God.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

I have posted articles on this illness for several years knowing in my mind that this world isn’t going to get better and better.  A sad result would be the rise in cases of PTSD.

It is becoming more clear throughout society that PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder and depression to name a few are very real illnesses. They are not flaws in a person’s character or the result of secret sin. They are to be viewed just as cancer or the common flu is.

People with cancer don’t seek help because of shame or fear of rejection. They get the help they need. The same needs to be true for those suffering with a mental illness.

The tribulation Jesus and Paul spoke of above shouldn’t include stigma and unfair treatment from other believers because of incorrect ideas about mental illness. The church and her people should be the safest refuge for the suffering. I’m happy to say this is happening more and more although much work remains to be done.

Maybe you or a loved one is in need of help. You feel like God has rejected you and there is no help to be found. That is a lie. I would also be lying if I stated the road to wellness is automatic once you reach out. How I wish it was. Take that first step today.

Father, bring peace to the anxious souls of those reading. Let them know there is hope for them and of your unconditional love. Intervene in their lives even now. In Jesus Name.

Streams In The Desert: February 28th, 2015

Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually Hebrews 13:15

A city missionary, stumbling through the dirt of a dark entry, heard a voice say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Striking a match, he caught a vision of earthly want and suffering, of saintly trust and peace, “cut in ebony”–calm, appealing eyes set amid the wrinkles of a pinched, black face that lay on a tattered bed. It was a bitter night in February, and she had no fire, no fuel, no light. She had had no supper, no dinner, no breakfast. She seemed to have nothing at all but rheumatism and faith in God. One could not well be more completely exiled from all pleasantness of circumstances, yet the favorite song of this old creature ran:

Nobody knows de trouble I see,
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see–
Sing Glory Hallelu!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,
Sometimes the glory shines aroun’
Sing Glory Hallelu!

And so it went on: “Nobody knows de work I does, Nobody knows de griefs I has,” the constant refrain being the “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:

Nobody knows de joys I has,
Nobody knows but Jesus!

“Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” It takes great Bible words to tell the cheer of that old negro auntie.

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then.

Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther, the old negro auntie–all of them human sun-flowers.
–Wm. G. Garnett

Songs From My Youth: February 27th, 2015

Music has been a huge part of my life for almost 50 years. In fact many of the songs from my youth softened my heart in preparation for the day I would hear the gospel. So sit back and enjoy some oldies.  Allan

1.  What’s Going On-  Marvin Gaye

2.  You Wear It Well-  Rod Stewart

3.  What Does It Take?-  Jr. Walker And The All Stars

4.  Kathy’s Song-  Simon And Garfunkle

5.  Father And Son-  Cat Stevens

6.  Catch The Wind-  Donovan

7.  A Summer Song-  Chad And Jeremy

8.  Superstar-  The Carpenters

9.  Vincent-  Don McLean

10.  Dialogue Part 1 and 2-  Chicago

11.  High Flying Bird-  Elton John

12.  Wonder-  Natalie Merchant

13.  Leaving On A Jet Plane-  John Denver

14.  Cats In The Cradle-  Harry Chapin

 

 

 

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