Open Wounds

If we really have to be honest with ourselves, I believe there is not one person that has not had a bad experience in life, from childhood memories to trauma experienced from unexpected events. It is important to understand that not everyone has the same ability when it comes to working through these experiences. People are often ashamed to go and ask for help from a registered counsellor or a therapist. Some people choose to live in denial which puts a huge burden on the mental capacity to try and cope with these emotions, thoughts and memories.

This oftentimes leads to people turning to all forms of coping mechanisms, to try and escape the hurt, shame and total disillusionment. The occurrence of mental health-related conditions in society has seen a rapid increase in the last couple of decades. The impact of the worldwide pandemic that is currently still part of our everyday lives has also had a major impact on people’s lives. Seen that May is a time to raise awareness for those living with mental or behavioural health challenges and to assist in reducing the stigma that so many people experience. To help those people find resources and practical tools that can be used to improve their mental health and increase their resilience.

One of the many coping mechanisms people turn to, to try and cope with anxiety, depression or any other related mental behavioural challenges is self-mutilation. The specific focus of my post is therefore to create awareness and offer some guidance on what self-mutilation is and how to approach this harmful behavioural pattern.

What is self-mutilation? The most common form of self-mutilation is cutting and or burning (but some people cut on less noticeable areas of the body), pulling out hair, hitting yourself, scratching yourself, breaking your bones intentionally or ingestion of anything that could be harmful to the body. People who struggle with self-mutilation do this in a response to deep inner pain, brokenness, loneliness, despair and underlying depression.

Cutting is a destructive unhealthy coping mechanism. If no solution is found to these feelings of hopelessness and fear, then it can only escalate into desperation that can manifest into an attempted suicide. It must be understood that the motive for these actions of self-mutilation is not self-destructive in nature — on the contrary, it is an attempt for the person to feel better (because the emotions are greater than themselves).

Self-mutilation is an unhealthy way or attempts to try and manage your emotions. Cutting releases endorphins in the brain, an action that creates a detachment from reality. The desired emotional relief to the person is the search to an escape from reality or to be caught in a euphoric state. Euphoria is an overwhelming feeling of happiness, joy, and well-being.

People experiencing euphoria may feel carefree, safe, and free of stress. Suicide is seen as a permanent solution, whereas self-mutilation is seen as a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

Critical to a breakthrough from self–mutilation lies in the process of healing of memories (also known as inner healing) followed by a potential need for the prayer of deliverance.

Journal Activity:

Write down any negative statements that you say about yourself on a regular basis. This will include the words “never or always”, such as, “I always do the wrong thing.” —rewrite those statements inflexible terms, in a more positive style such as, “Sometimes I make good decisions.”
The idea is to recognize that we rarely live life in the absolutes of “never” or “always,” and a good outcome is as likely as a bad outcome.

Be reminded that a positive attitude and actions create more positivity.
Saying the positive, flexible statements out loud whenever the negative thoughts try to creep back into your consciousness will also help change this destructive behaviour.

Bible Study

Read Luke 18:1-8 –Why did Jesus feel the need to tell a story? Stories help us remember, the connection to stories happens in a different place in our hearts and in our heads rather than just being a statement in general. Jesus had two points he wanted to imprint onto the hearts of his disciples. Firstly, He wanted them to be dedicated to prayer and make it a consistent part of their lives. Secondly, He wanted them to know that they must never give up, no matter what the circumstances might be.

What seems to make you fall apart can eventually reform you. What if these words are true; the deeper you know your brokenness, the deeper you can experience being loved. “I fall because I am broken but I rise because I am worthy, and I fall again because I am broken but I always rise because Jesus saved me!”

I want to encourage you to trust in Him as well, and wait on Him (Psalm 46:1, Psalm 27:14, Hebrews 12:1-3; Proverbs 23:18).  God promises His children a future filled with hope. He will help you through current circumstances. You may not see it right now and don’t understand how He is working in your life, but He will not abandon you. I want to encourage you that HOPE has a name and His name is Jesus. Mindfulness mantra: A good phrase: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”Philippians 4:13


Jesus, I know there are things I need to do to feel better, but just thinking about them seems exhausting. Jesus, help me take the first step. And when that first step is taken, help me take the next and then next step that I may walk in victory with You. Lead me to a place of serenity where this fog of fear and doubt will lift, that I will feel lighter, happier, healthier, and in control of my emotions. Grant me the patience to accept Your plan for my life, and to live in faith in the expectation of a blessed life in Your Grace. Jesus, help me to never give up as I seek Your will, Your presence, and Your help through prayer. Amen.

Helpful Resources

If you battle with a form of self-mutilation or you know someone who does, we want you to understand this article will only point you in the right direction.

Find help from a professional, licensed counsellor, or therapist — for you or someone else. (These contact numbers are for assistance in South Africa. Please consult an online directory for help in the region where you reside).

SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837

Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787

1 Comment
  • Beulah Kleinveldt
    Posted at 07:55h, 24 May Reply

    Love this article. I work with youth who go through this. Very insight piece.

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