Tag Archives: takecare

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

#TakeCare – When It Feels Impossible

For the longest time, the idea of taking care of myself was an anathema to me.

I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do something nice for me – and I found it acutely painful when someone reached out with an act of care or words of comfort.

I just didn’t feel I deserved it.

I didn’t feel I deserved to be liked – and I certainly didn’t deserve the luxury of eating or taking care of myself.

The hatred I had towards myself and my body was unlike I’d ever experienced – it was visceral and violent. And the only way I could manage the intense feelings was by cutting myself or making myself sick.

Both the self-harm and eating disorder served the same function – to manage the unmanageable – to make the mysterious emotional pain, tangible.

I used to wonder, as I watched the scars heal, whether something inside me could be healing in tandem.

It was bundle of contradictions, even then.

I was consumed with shame – but the only way I knew how to deal with the shame was to hurt myself.

I believed God forgives sins – but I couldn’t count myself among the forgiven.

And then, still in the depths of self-destruction, I went to Bible College.

Before I went, I made a strange decision to be myself. I decided I wasn’t going to hide behind a facade – but be honest about who I was and how I was feeling. I fully expected to be hated and disliked. I’d convinced myself that those who loved me did so out of duty.

The problem was, people welcomed me, they became my closest friends.

It turned my worldview on its head.

And yet I still lived under my own tyranny.

Until eventually, I began to loosen my grip on my self-destruction and cereal eating.

With the support and encouragement of my friends, I began to take care of myself.

Small ways at first; making sure I got out in the fresh air once a day, eating more in small increments.

The small increments grew; I started to eat more healthily, exercise gently.

It took a long time to get anywhere near something which looks like recovery, the thoughts have remained, but life became a better option than death.

Quite simply, I let the community around me love me back to life.

As they cared for me; drying my tears and  encouraging my faltering steps, I began to take care of myself.

I glimpsed something of a God who cared more than I could imagine through the acts of care I received from my friends.

And so this week in particular, I want to encourage you, reading these words, to take care of those around you who are struggling.

And to those of you who are struggling – hold on – and let those who love you take care of you.

For more information on self harm and where to get help- check out http://www.selfharm.co.uk

UThis post first featured on //www.threadsuk.com

Responding to Self-Harm #TakeCare

It’s seen as something attention seeking teenagers do.

It’s seen as a preserve of the ‘mentally ill’.

It’s seen as a passing phase, perhaps as ‘nothing serious’.

And yet.

It’s the leading cause of death for  adults between 20 and 24 according to a recent Lancet Commission report.

Self-harm is killing people.

And it’s important to note here, that these are not people who were necessarily trying to take their own lives.

Self-harm is not suicide.

Self-harm is a coping mechanism, a way to manage unspeakable pain in a tangible way.

People at the very beginning of adulthood are dying as they try to navigate their lives.

We can suggest countless reasons why young people in their twenties are self-harming; the pressures of debt, lack of affordable places to live, dissatisfaction, not to mention rising rates of mental illness.

Self-harm doesn’t stop as soon as people turn twenty, but all too often the sources of support seem to. From living amongst friends in university houses with student support and student pastors available to talk to, entering the workplace with a boss and navigating the career ladder can feel incredibly isolating.

How can we even begin to respond?

There is no easy answer, no one size fits all response which will remind  people that their lives are valuable and that they are valuable. Medication and mental health service input might be required, better systems of support and learning coping mechanisms are vital   but more than that; space, community and vulnerability are needed.

Space before God to understand who they are without the labels of ‘young person’ or ‘student’. Communities in which they can work out life in a safe place, and vulnerability to learn that no one is perfect, no one is sorted.

Recovery, of any kind cannot be done in isolation.

We cannot let a generation of struggling young people turn into adults who can see no solace outside of scars.

We need communities to remind us that all solace comes from a God who, through His Son was prepared to bare His scars.

Beyond The Scales – Guest Blog by Emma Scrivener #TakeCare

Eating disorders are about more than just weight. They’re about control, perfectionism, boundaries, families and emotions. They represent a way of thinking and relating, both to yourself and to others. Recovery therefore, isn’t just a matter of BMI. It means challenging long-held beliefs – e.g; that life can be seen in terms of black and white. That emotions are bad and sharing them makes you a ‘burden’. That control means safety.

Anorexics for example, are often far more focused on making plans, getting things right and getting things perfect, than other people. They find it difficult to live in the moment or let go of mistakes. They can quickly become obsessive and value routine and familiarity. They often have very little sense of self and look to others for affirmation and identity. In some cases their eating disorder is what gives them identity – they want to be free of it, but are terrified of or unable to imagine who they are without it.

I was first diagnosed with anorexia when I was about 13 and struggled with it for the next four or five years. Although by 18 I’d recovered physically, I found that psychologically I was at the same stage as I’d been when the disorder began. My emotional development had been frozen.

For me, anorexia worked by sublimating other fears into the desire to be thin. But instead of dealing with those fears, it just smothered them temporarily. As my eating habits normalised, they resurfaced. Getting better meant facing them and covering the emotional ground I’d lost. That was just as scary as gaining weight – but much more difficult to explain. I looked better – and older – on the outside. But internally, the emotional battle was just beginning.

From the outside, though, what was everyone thinking? Phew! I’m so glad all those difficult struggles are over. The scales are right, everything’s fixed.

Can you see a problem here?

 

Emma Scrivener was born in Belfast, but now lives with her husband and daughter in the south east of England. She suffered from life-threatening anorexia, both as a child and as an adult. She now writes and speaks about her experiences and how the grace of Christ speaks in the darkest places. Emma blogs at emmascrivener.net and her book, ‘A New Name’ is published by IVP.

Introducing #TakeCare

Monday marks the beginning of Eating Disorder Awareness Week and includes National Self-Harm Awareness on Wednesday. To mark this we are launching our #TakeCare campaign to encourage people to offer acts of care both for themselves and others.

In order to do this we want people to Tweet, Facebook and Instagram ideas about how they are taking care of themselves and those around them. Example ideas could be:

  • accompany someone for a walk in the sunshine
  • offer to help them with housework
  • get a manicure with a friend
  • take children to the park to give a parent a break
  • pay for someone to spend the day doing something they love,
  • send your pet to someone who loves animals for a day
  • lend out your favourite book

So often when someone is struggling with self-harm or an eating disorder, self-care can feel impossible in contrast to the pull of hurting oneself.

We want to encourage small ways in which people struggling can begin to take care of themselves; whether it be getting out in the sunshine or reading a book they love – but we also want to encourage everyone to reach out to those they know are struggling and show them they care.

We’d love to hear how you’re getting involved so use the hashtag #TakeCare and tag @ThinkTwiceInfo!