Since my book has been published, I have been stopped by many people telling me their stories about how they were bullied or how they struggle with mental illness. My purpose for writing my book and even this blog is to reach out to others and show them they are not alone. My intentions are not to just tell my story but to educate others, to encourage those who struggle, and to give advice.
I believe God guided me through the struggles in my life to be able to rise above them and to use them to help others. I’m not an expert in the field of mental illness or bullying. I am a survivor who writes about my experiences to reach out to others. Years of struggling, therapy, healing, and coping have given me the ability to write my blog and book.
God uses us in many ways. He puts us in situations or the right places where we can help others. This weekend I had lunch with a woman during an event. We were talking about ourselves, and she confided in me she was struggling with mental illness. I asked her what her illness was. She told me she was a self-injurer.
I told her I also had been a self-injurer and have been injury free for twenty years. Self-injury is not something you can just wake up one morning and decide to stop. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism that becomes an addiction. It’s like alcoholism or smoking cigarettes. You can’t just stop without determination, help, and hard work.
I had no advice that would make it easier for the woman to stop self-injuring. The best I could do was give her advice that may or may not help her. I told her about what helped me stop self-injuring. A co-worker gave me a goal to go six months without injuring. The co-worker told me if I could make it to that six months, she would put on a celebration for me.
Those were the toughest six months of my life. Several times I picked up a razor blade and held it in my hand wanting to make just one cut to ease the overwhelming pain inside me. Tears streamed down my face, anguish filled my soul, and my thoughts fought a silent battle.
Just one cut and I’ll feel better.
No, you have to make it six months without cutting.
I can’t handle this pain in me without cutting.
Yes, you can handle the pain. Try journaling, hold an ice cube until you feel the sting of coldness, or call a friend.
My thoughts fought, but my determination eventually won, and I put the blade down. I struggled, but I did make it to the six months. My co-worker put together a party at a restaurant with my friends.
I told the woman about this in a condensed version. I encouraged her to start with a smaller goal like a month. Then when she made it to the month to celebrate with friends or do something special for herself. I told her after she makes the month add on another month. I told her to keep celebrating the goal she reaches and to keep adding on time until she can stop injuring without a goal. I told her to also try to find healthier coping techniques. She said she’s tried many. I encouraged her to keep trying. I encouraged her by telling her, “You can stop injuring. Don’t give up.”
God put me at that event where I happened to have lunch with this woman who I could reach out to give encouragement and advice. I gave her my business card with my blog address on it and suggested she check it out. I’m hoping I gave her another alternative to try and encouragement to keep fighting.
I’m a writer I go to workshops and conferences and I read books to enhance my writing. Workshops are taught by authors who each have different techniques. Writers must sift through the different techniques until they find the one that works best for them. It’s the same with mental illness strugglers: they need to go to a therapist and hear from other strugglers to find different coping techniques that will work for them. If you have reached recovery and you meet someone who is struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out. Share with the person what has helped you. It will give them a new technique to try that may be the one that works. Use your experiences to help others.
I don’t know if my advice will help the woman I had lunch with, but I feel like God gave me that opportunity to reach out to her. If anything, I hope I encouraged her. It’s the same with this blog. I give lots of tips in my post and they may help you or they may just encourage you to fight. Reaching out to you in this post and to others in person keeps me standing in the light of God’s plan.