Guess God brought "To Save a Life" to prepare me to face a teen who struggles with handling pain of growing up, pain in life and when circumstance becomes intense ... cutting seem to a temporal way out .... hence, I decided to google and read up a little bit more of this culture that embraces this current generation. This is really a entire new generation, new breed of special people that the method used to handle my nieces and nephews will NOT work .... only by God's grace and leading of the Holy Spirit that I am able to help them .... Anyway, I read up some info so that I can understand their situation better and I compile a few articles into mine (eg from : http://eqi.org/cutting1.htm, http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/20842/teenagers_and_cutting_what_you_should_pg2.html?cat=25, http://www.teen-beauty-tips.com/teenage-cutting.html )
Lord have mercy on this generation!
What is Cutting?
Teenage Cutting is a form of self injury that involves deliberately inflicting wounds and cuts on ones body. It is a serious issue and its victims are held captive in a very dark and lonely cell. Most people who self injure are not trying to commit suicide and are not crazy. They just don’t know how to deal with what’s going on in the inside of them, where as a physical wound is something they can see and gives them something to tend to. They see the physical pain as easier to cope and deal with.
Teens that self injure will feel as if they are nothing, that they don’t matter and that no one cares for them or what they are going through. They have a hard time expressing their emotions because the enemy has made them feel ashamed and they cut themselves in an attempt to deal with other problems they are having – to them it is a release.
Yes, to its victims cutting releases tension, stress, and anger, to some it is a release for everything. If they are having a bad day or if they feel they have messed up cutting can make everything feel ok and they can stop beating themselves up about it. Besides providing a release cutting will sometimes offer an atonement making them feel as if they have punished themselves for what they did or how they feel.
For those experiencing self-hatred touching their wound will remind them of what they have done and that they are not allowed to hate themselves. Their feelings and guilt will seem to float out on the blood leaving them feeling calm. The scars will often help them to feel like their pain is real. To them it is like a battle scar reminding them that they have been through something and no one can tell them otherwise. When they hurt enough to injure themselves it means they were in emotional pain. Deep inside many hide pain. I encourage anyone experiencing these feelings to call to the Lord and He will answer; Cry out to help from Him and He will say, Here I Am (Isaiah 58:9 )
I also want to express that you are not alone. You are never alone, that’s just what Satan wants you to believe.
Who is Impacted?
Self injury does not discriminate and self injurers come from all walks of life. People who harm themselves can be male, female, straight, gay, or bisexual; they can be doctors, high-school dropouts or high-school students; rich, poor or from any country in the world. Self injury is an addiction that affects 3 million Americans, 2 million of whom purposely cut or burn themselves. Teenage cutting begins at the average age of 14, in fact 90% of self injurers start at roughly this age.
More than half of self injurers are victims of abuse, and most report emotionally abusive or neglectful childhoods. The most common adult injurers are in the profession of are teacher, nurse and manager.
But "God is your hiding place: He will protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:7Why Teens Cut
Teenagers cut to stop their emotional pain
Teens cut to stop their emotional pain. This is the most honest and direct way to say it. We have worked with self-harming teens for over ten years. We have learned beyond any doubt that they cut to stop their emotional and psychological pain. They come from emotionally abusive homes and environments. These homes and environments, including their schools, cause them to suffer emotional pain and cutting is a form of temporary relief.
Many people say cutting is to "get attention" but this is a common myth about cutting. Most teens who cut, for example, actually wear long sleeve shirts because they don't want others to know they are cutting. They feel embarrassed about it or guilty for doing it. They often feel very self-critical about it. Below is the case of Michelle, a teen who tried to hide her scars.
Michelle would cut herself in hidden places. For example, she would cut herself on the top of her legs. She did not want attention. She wanted to to be left alone and to be free. But she was raised in a very controlling environment, including home and school. She had also been sexually abused, physically abused and emotionally abused..
"Cutting was because I needed to get back into my life. You sink into this place where you can't think or feel, you don't know what you're doing. My brain, subconsciously, would tell me that's what I had to do to get out of the horrible hell I would snap into. Cutting yourself is pain and blood and living, and it's taking away the pain of being this empty person." Claire, 17Few of us have been so hungry that we have actually been in physical pain. But we have all heard of hunger pains. For teens who cut themselves, their emotional pain is much more intense than for the average person. It is a intensity of pain that many of us have never felt, just as we have never felt the pain of intense starvation. But these people are starving emotionally. Looking at it this way might help us understand what they need and why they cut.
The Sources of Their Emotional Pain - Feelings Which Represent Unmet Emotional Needs
Emotional pain, for all of us, comes when have we have extreme levels of unmet emotional needs. We all find our own ways to cope with this pain.
As adults we have many legal and healthy coping mechanisms. On one website I saw a list of alternatives to cutting. Some of these included: going for a drive, going shopping, calling a friend, going for a walk.
Many of these options are unavailable to adolescents, though.
Many of these adolescents are not allowed to use the phone at certain times, either because it is too late at night, or because they have been punished for some reason and "grounded" from using the phone. Some do not have telephones in their houses. Even if they could use the phone, many of them are afraid to call the crisis lines because their parents might hear them. Unless you have lived in a home full of fear, it is probably hard to imagine that such homes exist. But I have talked to enough adolescents now to know that they do exist. This is one reason I urge us all to start talking to children and find out what they are afraid of. If they are afraid of their own parents when they are young, it is a warning sign for later on.
Many of the adolescents are not allowed to outside when they most need to get out of the house. Normally they feel the urge to cut when it is late at night. This is when they feel most alone, and perhaps most afraid. For some, even if they could go outside, they have no where to go where they feel safe. Nor can they simply go shopping whenever they want, especially not at night. Obviously, most of them can not go for a drive.
One of their sources of pain, then, is simply feeling trapped; of not having options.
A list of their painful feelings includes:
Feeling not listened to
Feeling uncared about
Human Emotional Needs
Here are some of the basic human emotional needs expressed as feelings. While all humans share these needs, each differs in the strength of the need, just as some of us need more water, more food or more sleep.
One person may need more freedom and independence, another may need more security and social connections. When a person's natural emotional needs are met, healthy behavior naturally follows.
In various degrees, each according to his or her own unique nature, we each have a natural emotional need to feel:
Signs and Symptoms
One huge sign of cutting is wearing long sleeved shirts and jeans in warm weather. Although cutting may appear in some circles as the ‘cool thing to do' it is something a troubled teenager will go to great lengths to hide from their parents and friends.
The most obvious sign is of course scars on your child. The most common areas teenagers cut themselves in on the arms, legs and the belly. They lines can be any length and in any number. Some will cut the same spot repeatedly while others cover large areas of skin.
Cutters will generally change their everyday behavior. They will become more withdrawn and secretive. They may avoid changing clothes for gym class or trying on clothes in front of parents or friends. Their grades and social life will suffer as well.
Self-Injury Help - How to deal with Teenage
Self injury is a cycle. Not only is it a way to release emotions, but it can also become a physical addiction as well. That is one reason it can be so hard to quit. Some who have been involved in self injury say they actually feel physical withdrawals when trying to stop.
Therefore, like drugs and alcohol, self injury can become an addiction. And as you could have guessed there are better ways to deal with troubles than self-injury cutting and although cutting can be a difficult pattern to break, it is possible. With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
The First Step...
The first step with any addiction is to admit you have a problem and need help. I encourage you to come to God and ask for His help. Cry out to Him and share your pain with Him. You may need to ask for forgiveness.... and don't forget about forgiving yourself as well. However, don't allow the enemy to get you caught up in a cycle of shame and feeling bad about yourself. True guilt is different from shame. Shame says, "I'm a bad person" and that's not true. You are loved by God no matter what you've done or what's been done to you. Once you're ready to make a change, you have to decide if you're willing to change directions.
The hardest step is telling someone. This will take courage but once you find someone you trust and confide in them you will feel a great sense of relief. If verbally telling someone is too difficult you can always write a note. If the person you tell doesn’t offer assistance, tell someone else. Adults have the tendency to downplay issues and problems often classifying it as just a phase. There are people who will listen.
Who can you tell? Here are some ideas of who you can talk to:
- Your parents,
- Youth pastor,
- School counselor,
- School teacher
- Trusted friend
Trying to figure out the cause of cutting yourself may be tough...
- Is it anger?
- Pressure to be perfect?
- Relationship trouble?
- A painful loss or trauma?
- Mean criticism or mistreatment?
Many people have trouble figuring this part out on their own. But there is no shame in getting professional help to overcome the problem- this does not mean that you are weak! Therapists and counselors are trained to help people discover inner strengths that help them heal. These inner strengths can then be used to cope with life's other problems in a healthy way. There are also churches that offer prayer, encouragement and support groups. The Lord will guide your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Work on it, there is a lot to dealing with past hurts and finding better ways to handling life’s stresses. Once you identify what triggers your urge to cutting yourself, make a commitment to make the decision, a promise to yourself that you will not follow through with it but replace it with something else instead. Make plans on what this will be so it’s place for the next time you feel the need.
Urges will pass if you wait them out. The more you wait without giving in, the more your urges will decrease over time so try distracting yourself with something – call a friend, take a shower, play with a pet. Walking is a great way to help with any depression and other forms of exercise provide releases from tension.
You may also try writing poetry or drawing, these are great ways to get the feelings on the inside out and that’s the goal. You are on a mission to find a new, healthy release to replace the painful, hurtful one you’ve grown accustomed to. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:5-6)What Is Not Helpful
- Ordering them to stop it.
- Watching them.
- Taking away their privacy. (Taking the door off of their room, etc.)
- Taking away their razors and all sharp objects.
- Making them feel even more abnormal by saying things like, "You need help. You are sick. That is not normal."
- Rejecting that part of them. Not accepting their behavior.
- Threatening them - such as with being sent to the hospital.