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Overcoming Self-Injury and BPD
A Young Adult’s Testimony
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities,
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
When I was asked to give my testimonial, my first thought was, which testimonial? because God has worked countless miracles in my life. I have decided to tell of the moment when God rescued me from rock bottom. Being at rock bottom means different things to different people, but for me it meant being collapsed in a heap on my bathroom floor, a knife in my hand, and my blood splashed on the walls, on the floor, and all over my clothes.
Let me give you some background information about myself. In 1996 I developed a condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the condition, there are 9 hallmark signs of BPD, of which I had 7. Some of the most remarkable include profound periods of major depression, reckless behaviours such as gambling and reckless driving, intense catastrophic and stormy interpersonal relationships, a profound phobia of abandonment, and self-injury.
Self-injury probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to most of you. The basic principle behind it is that when your life is overwhelmed by such intense depression that you don’t want to live anymore, self-injury takes that emotional anguish and converts it into physical pain, which is psychologically much easier to deal with.
At the height of my BPD I was self-injuring every few weeks. I had been on 8 different medications, including Prozac, Paxil, Amitriptyline, Effexor, Risperdal, Celexa, Zyprexa, and in one final desperate attempt to control my symptoms, one psychiatrist even put me on Lithium. I was examined by four psychiatrists and had a total of 5 trips to the emergency room at the hospital to be under suicide watch.
During this final episode of being at rock bottom that I mentioned, I had made some poor decisions and hurt somebody I loved very much. I couldn’t deal with the anguish of knowing the pain I had caused this person, and that led to a major episode of self-injury. My roommate found me, gathered me up, and drove me to the emergency department where they cleaned me up and locked me in a small room very much like a cell. It was empty of all furnishings except a small bed and a single blanket. It had one of those one-way mirrored windows so they could watch me but I couldn’t see them, and several closed circuit TV cameras watching me from every angle. In all they counted 37 wounds on my left arm.
As I was sitting in the solitary confinement room, suddenly a phrase popped into my head, “By His stripes.” I thought, “By His stripes,” what on earth does that mean? It kept repeating itself over and over in my head. I knew it was biblical, but I didn’t know the rest of the verse.
When I got released and sent home, the first thing I did was look up “stripes” in my concordance. Here is what I found: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. Wow. By HIS stripes we are healed. Not by MY stripes! It made me think about the incredible sacrifice of Christ and the physical abuse His body endured so that mine wouldn’t have to. Then it occurred to me, when I self-injure, what am I saying to Christ about my acceptance of His supreme gift to me? I am basically throwing it back in His face and saying I don’t want this.
Christ took the punishment my body deserved. By HIS stripes I’ve been healed!
From that moment on, I have not self-injured—not ONCE, and that was over a year and a half ago. Christ’s gift to me did more for me than 4 psychiatrists, 5 hospital visits, and 8 anti-psychotic medications. That’s powerful! To quote Matt Parra, Nothing puts a value on your life like the sacrifice of Christ.
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