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Real-life stories: Indulging in self-harm

Overcoming Self-harm

Jess Wilson’s story:


Desperation with life and herself led Jess Wilson to habitual self-harm. ‘For me,’ Jess says, ‘self-harm was a mixture of self-punishment and release, the physical pain somehow seemed to lesson my emotional pain.’

These feelings are common among those who suffer, for self-harm is often seen as part of a coping strategy to deal with overwhelming feelings. Self-harm is an increasingly common feature in modern society, where it is thought to affect 1 in 10 people. Studies have shown that more than 40% of us know someone who has self-harmed. Most frequent among the young, it can be found in any age group. Jess’s story has a happy outcome but for many sufferers, their family and friends, they face years of hurt and unhappiness.

As a recovered self-harmer, Jess wanted to share the lessons she learnt so she wrote a book (The Cutting Edge) to support those still caught up in the addiction and practical help for family and friends.

As a Christian, Jess put her recovering down to the following factors: ‘a combination of therapy, the love and support of my family and friends, and the healing power of Jesus’. At school Jess was a ‘model’ student, with a loving family and supportive teachers. It was Jess who pushed herself to achieve. ‘I never felt I was good enough,’ she recalls. ‘I set myself incredibly high targets, and continually felt like a failure when I couldn’t meet them... I was truly petrified of “failing”.’

So began a vicious circle. But self-harm didn’t solve any of Jess’s problems, it only made them worse. For nearly two years she cut herself. Finally plucking up the courage to tell a sympathetic teacher.

Recovery didn’t happen overnight.

the cutting edge book

‘You may be wondering where God was while I was going through all of this,’ writes Jess. ‘Looking back he was continually there, working in me. I was simply choosing not to see him. So many people were praying for me and their prayers were answered. ‘When I see my scars, they remind me of what God has brought me through and what he did for me. He can do that for you, too.’ ‘I’ve gone from a girl whose whole life was “a failure to the world and its whole existence” to someone who can accept herself for who she is – my talents as well as the things I can’t do.

‘And after years of self-loathing, I can tell you it’s an amazing feeling.’

Jess Wilson, 2009

Story and photos by courtesy of Challenge Newsline

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