Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Self Injury, Cutting & Autism Pt 2

Last weekend, I told the story of how I had developed a twenty year addiction to cutting. Today, I am going to share how that addiction abruptly ended. 

First, I told a therapist about my problem. Amazingly, I had kept quiet about this since it all started. Shame is an effective silencer, but I struggled even more deeply with the knowledge that I kept willfully harming the body God created for me in love. 

My counselor was honest in that she said I had less than a 10% chance of being able to quit hurting myself (although I do not know where that kind of statistical data comes from) because I had been doing it for so long. But she gave me a book to read  by Dr. Marsha Linehan which included a chapter on brain chemistry and something called Emotional Baseline Theory. 

In short, I learned I did not cut myself because I was mentally ill. Rather, when aroused by excessive emotion, my brain chemistry took days and days to return to baseline, unlike a regular person whose brain could get back to its baseline in just a few minutes after an emotional upset.

I also learned that any shocking injury to the body produces a flood of neurotransmitters which restore a person's brain chemistry within seconds. This is what happened to me, and why I was hooked so early and easily. Overwhelming feelings of shame and anger were replaced with instant peace when I cut. The difference in my emotions was hard to ignore.

But as it turns out, holding some ice cubes in the palm of the hand or standing on cold concrete with bare feet will produce the same chemical effect as cutting. When I read that, I knew I would never choose to injure myself ever again.

And as of June 1, 2002, I never have. Not only that, but somehow I bear no scars. I should be covered in them, but there is no trace of what held me prisoner for so long. 

God is good. When we are ready to be healed, He is ready to answer. 

Be blessed. 


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