Tag Archives: edaw2017

After the Scars #TakeCare

The first article I ever wrote for Threads back in 2012 was on the subject of scars. I had just finished my degree and I’d not self-harmed for a year, I was eating nearly normally, embarking on a research degree and trying to work out how to live in this new place of recovery, balancing mental illness and hope.

I was desperately trying to work out living between two realities – the knowledge of the darkness I’d inhabited – and the hope of a real life to lead.

The battle was over; but the scars remained.

It’s not something we think of, what happens after an eating disorder or self-harm have made their march through a life, the wreckage and legacy they leave behind, and yet it was the thing I was faced with most starkly in those first few years learning to live.

I used to hate the scars my body bore. They seemed to tell my story to all and sundry. They spoke of the worst years of my life, and I wanted to forge a new path.

I didn’t know how to move forward when my past was so glaringly obvious.

And this week, which marks both Eating Disorder Awareness Week and National Self-Harm Awareness Day, I’ve been thinking more and more about what happens when the worst is over and you’re left surveying the wreck.

Matt Bays writes:

“To find our redemption, we must be willing to visit the scene of the crime and, unimaginably, stay there for a while. It will take some time to survey the damage to sit in the ruins with God and acknowledge its full impact on our lives.”

It’s a daunting prospect; to survey the damage done sit with God in the midst of it, but as I’ve tried to do it this past year, I’ve seen something of God that I missed in the midst of self-harm.

My focus used to be, almost exclusively, on Jesus’ scars. They were proof to me that God cared; I hung my faith on the scars of Jesus because I needed to be understood at a time where I felt no-one understood.

The scars of Jesus tell a powerful story of redemption and hope – they tell us that our scars and our pasts need not define our futures – they don’t exclude us from the reach of the gospel.

Hope can be found in the wreckage.

And my hope is found in Jesus not coming just to empathise with our darkness – but to defeat it.

As he stood before His disciples, scarred palms open, He was showing them that He’d done the impossible and defeated death, for them and for everyone.

The Message translation of a verse from Isaiah 53 says this:

“He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.”

The power in these words sometimes gets lost, I think.

And as I’ve surveyed the damage, I’ve glimpsed something of Jesus who not only extended scar striped arms, but who also formed the stars.

In the mess and mire of self-harm, I’d missed God’s majesty and might.

God is greater than self-harm and eating disorders – and yet He meets us in their midst to bring comfort and show us something of the wholeness that waits humanity on the other side of heaven.

It’s God’s care for us that reaches from heaven into our hearts and comforts us in our distress.

And it’s God’s care that flows through us when we reach out to those around us who are hurting.

As Paul puts in his letter to the Corinthians:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

 

This post first featured on www.threadsuk.com

 

Encouraging Self-Care – Guest Post #TakeCare

It’s no secret that our health care system is overrun, with some saying it has reached a crisis point. For those people relying on the NHS for support it can be full of waiting lists, brief assessments and a general lack of bed-side manner. However, there is hope. Friends and family can aid those who are suffering in taking care of themselves.

There is no better time than the present to engage in self-care. ThinkTwice have a campaign running from 27th Feb – 5th March so check out the hashtag #TakeCare for more ideas, resources and support. Remember, we’re all in this together – decreasing stigma, increasing awareness.

Self-care is so much more than getting your nails done. It’s about empowering people with the confidence and information to look after themselves. When it comes to supporting a friend/family member who is suffering from a mental illness there are loads of things you can do to support them in helping themselves.

The following is a list of different things you do can do/make/buy to support a friend to practice acts of self-care. Be smart about which ones you pick. Think of the person’s illness/ what they are experiencing and make sure it is appropriate for them. Use the #TakeCare to showcase your creations on social media!

‘One–a-day Jar’
Remembering one positive experience a day can help lift your spirits.
Raid your cupboards at home – or someone else’s! – and hunt out an old food or sweet jar. Try and find the biggest one you can. Empty the contents so it is a plain jar. Decorate the outside in whatever way you think your friend/family member would like. You could wrap twine around it, tie a bow out of ribbon or glue a photo of you and them onto it. Create a luggage-style tag and write the following instructions on it – ‘Write down one positive thing every day. Fold it over and place it in this jar. When you’re having a tough day, take one note out, read it and remember that positive experience.’ – To make it extra special you could even buy a nice pen and note paper to go with it.

Bake a (healthy) treat!
Having a healthy diet is important for everyone; it can lift your mood and help regulate your body. Have a search online for healthy snacks – granola bars etc – and get your bake on. By baking a friend/family member a selection of healthy treats can help them feel cared for in many ways. It shows you care by taking the time to bake rather than buy a gift. When they eat one, it is a healthier option rather than what they might have had instead which shows self-care to themselves. Even if they don’t eat them, don’t be offended – it still shows you care and they can always offer a visiting friend a treat!

Basket of daily goodies 

When you’re not well and experiencing a mental health illness it can be hard to simply do the daily tasks of looking after yourself. This can range from brushing your teeth to getting some exercise. Create a basket of goodies that can help with these tasks. Fill it with lush smelling shower gels, bubble bath, hair care products and even tooth paste. You could add to it by printing off a map of the local area and highlighting simple walks they could go on for some exercise – even offering to go with them.

These are just a few ideas so have a think of your friend/family member and see if you can think of anymore. Look out for additional ideas from Thinktwice and #TakeCare.

Supporting a friend/family member who suffers from a mental illness, short or long term, can be hard work so look after yourself too. Remember, there is hope and they will get better.

Liz Edge is a freelance youth worker based in Dorset. www.liz-edge.co.uk