Saturday, July 26, 2014

Self Injury, Cutting & Autism

Nancy Stafford

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Nancy Stafford (from TV's Matlock) at a women's conference here in Jacksonville. A woman of deep faith, she travels around the world to teach hurting women and girls of God's healing love

Perhaps even more importantly, she takes the time to listen to the stories of the women who come to hear her. And after listening to me, Nancy encouraged me to share the following part of my life for those who might need to hear it. 

In 1981, when I was ten, a phone booth near my house shattered. Upon seeing the mess, I had wondered if the glass was truly "safe" as it was labeled, so without a thought I ran my finger over a piece. Not surprisingly, my blood instantly flowed. 

Photo by: Rolando Pujol
I was first diagnosed with major clinical depression at age 13 but had been suffering with it for years when I encountered the phone booth. So while my finger bled, it wasn't hard to notice that my feelings of pain and anguish suddenly disappeared. As a result, I would spend the next twenty years of my life cutting myself open to deal with emotions too powerful to handle any other way. 

Self injury is common among people with autism. It's also common among other groups of people who are suffering with overwhelming pain inside. And cutting, a now popular form of self injury, can be deadly. I was headed down that road. Over time the episodes grew more frequent. I also made longer, deeper cuts and it finally became impossible to count how many I even made. The danger of cutting into a major vein or artery became very real. Plus hepatitis was a constant threat because I always used dirty, broken glass off the street to slice through my skin. 
People actually cut to live--not to die. But in the end addictions of all kinds lead to death no matter what kind of life they offer in the beginning. On the edge of destruction, I needed help to bring this season of my life to a close, and in the next post on Tuesday, I will share just how that happened.

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