B i l l 2 6.
although you said that you are not looking for sympathy, i need you to know that my heart breaks for your pain and completely goes out to you. i am sixteen now, but from the ages of twelve to fifteen, i struggled with extremely deep depression and anxiety, cutting and suicidal ideation, which culminated in a nearly fatal suicide attempt on march 28, 2007. the only reason that i am still alive to tell you the story of all that i’ve been through is because God intervened with a miracle the night that i tried to die, preserving my body from any harm, with the pills that i swallowed passing through my bloodstream without doing any damage. if He had not preserved my life so that—i truly believe with all my heart—i could live for His glory and share the story of my suffering with others who need to hear of His hope and Love, i would literally be in Hell right now. i treasure every moment of my life, and i am learning to appreciate the suffering that i still endure because of the scars that my dark past has left behind upon my soul. it is my deepest hope and prayer that in this post, i will be able to help you in at least some small way, and give you hope and encouragement. if you’d ever like to hear more of my story, please don’t hesitate to contact me—i am extremely open about my faith and my experiences, in the hope and prayer that it will lead others to the hope that is found completely and only in God.
first, to answer your question—i do believe that self-harm is a sin, not only because it goes against the fifth Commandment of “Thou shalt not kill,” but because it involves harming the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. i also believe, though, that because of the emotional pain involved, and its addictive tendencies (i know that one of the most painful and difficult experiences i’ve ever been through was the process of replacing self-harm with healthy ways to cope with stress), it is a venial sin—which doesn’t make it serious, and i could be wrong. you’d have to talk to a priest about this, and i definitely recommend that you do. there are many kind, loving, compassionate priests out there who will not judge you, but will refer you to someone who can give you the psychological help that you need, and then offer you spiritual assistance as well. i believe that you need to be treated not only through a secular therapist and psychiatrist, but through someone who is attuned spiritually and can help you experience the love, hope and healing of God—i know that my pastor has helped me immensely over these past few years, and even visited me when i was hospitalized for four and a half months in summer 2007 after my suicide attempt.
here is my advice to you, that you do these things in the following order:
1) Go to Confession—one receives many graces from Confession, and it helps one to grow closer to God. i can’t imagine God being condemning towards you when you are in so much pain (and i am truly so sorry beyond words for all of your suffering), but i do believe that it hurts Him immensely when we hurt ourselves, because He loves us so much more than we could ever imagine and only wants us to come to Him with our pain. He created you and doesn’t want you to harm your body, which is truly the temple of the Holy Spirit that dwells within you, and will give you the strength, power and courage that you need to endure all that you’re going through in a healthy, positive way, with secular, spiritual and God’s help. i recommend that you go to Confession as soon as possible and confess not only your self-harm, but all of your other sins, so that you can experience God’s cleansing, forgiveness and healing through the grace of this Sacrament.
**2) Talk to a priest about what you are going through—**i definitely recommend that you seek spiritual help for all of your suffering, someone who will probably be able to help you more than any secular resource ever could. i’m sure that there is at least one priest in your parish who will treat you with kindness, love and understanding, and will not judge you in any way, but will do all that he can to help you experience the love and hope and healing that is forever and completely in God alone. my pastor told me that i can call him whenever i am upset or would like to talk to him, and i will soon ask him to set me up with a spiritual director, to help me endure what i have to go through in my mental and spiritual illnesses, and also grow closer to God. if there is no one in your parish who is able to speak with you that intimately, at least spend some time talking with a priest, and see where he wants you to go from there.