How Biblical Counseling Helped a Woman Struggling with Self Injury, Depression, and Anxiety

December 7, 2012


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BCC Staff Note: This resource is part of a Biblical Counseling Coalition series of testimonies by people who have received biblical counseling. Though anonymous, each testimony is from a real person who is excited to share how biblical counseling has benefited them. For additional testimoniesin this BCC series, click here.

My Story

At the age of 12 I felt like I was fighting my own mind, feeling guilty all the time for everything, even for things I didn’t do. My thoughts went something like, “God forgive me, Jesus I’m sorry, please pardon my sin, God forgive me…” over and over again. I was out of control. There was even a time it was hard praying because of a feeling I was praying to Satan….

If feeling spiritually dirty wasn’t enough, I started to feel physically dirty. At age 16 I began thinking that every zit, bump, blemish, ANYTHING was gross and dirty. I had this sick theory that if I just extracted every zit and every bump, I’d be clean. Even if I made myself bleed, it was better than germs in my skin. I would dig at my skin with my fingernails until there were massive lesions, some the sizes of quarters. My face, arms, legs, chest and lower back were destroyed.

I had become a monster and I HATED MYSELF. Depression sunk in; I didn’t care about anything in my life at all, and my heart started getting colder. I lived in this HELL for two years. I finally broke down and told my mom that I thought I had a demon. I think this scared her, but she reassured me that this was not the case.

After weighing the options I decided to seek help from a two psychologists at an OCD Center in a behavioral therapy setting. My appointments were usually split. The first hour I would meet with the physician\therapist who asked questions and then prescribed all of the medications. If my answers ever indicated that I was unhappy, in pain, or sexually inactive, the medicinal dosage would be increased, or new medications would be prescribed. He told me over and over that with the correct combination of medicinal aid and behavioral therapy I would be able to live a normal life. I believed him.

Then, next hour I would meet with a behavioral therapist. This was my favorite part of the appointment, simply because of the encouragement and comfort I found in her. She always met me with a hug, and asked how I was doing and helped me believe that my situation was hopeful. We would discuss various homework assignments, and results of previous homework, and mental techniques to help me overcome the difficulties that lived in my thought life. These difficulties, she assured me, were the product of a chemical imbalance that prevented my brain from functioning normally.

So I faithfully took the medicines, was determined to do my homework, spend time working on bad habits, and practice thinking in a way that was going to positively affect my growth. After every appointment in behavioral therapy I would feel completely energized and optimistic, but my emotional high wore off after only a couple of hours.

I continued to fight the desperation that was still growing inside of me. But my mental clarity was gone; I was getting more lethargic, more hopeless, and was ALWAYS hungry. I gained over twenty pounds in a month, was mentally “numb,” and hated the person I had become. I was still guilty and was still picking at everything. I got tired of feeling like a monster, so I ate only enough to keep my body alive and worked out continually. I just wanted to be beautiful, but nothing helped me feel better. Losing weight, making money at my job, not hanging out with “Brian” (who I liked), new clothes, new CD’s, my family, my friends, nothing helped me feel better.

I was miserable, dirty, and guilty. So there was only one thing left to do: curse God. This hatred turned into an intense passionate loathing. It scared me at first, but then I just kept sinking deeper. I even hated my whole family because they still loved God even though I felt like He had cursed me.

His Story

After about three months of hard-core cursing God everything came to a head. At a worship night at church, it hit me; I MISSED GOD. I walked, cried, fought with God, and found myself on my knees outside the church alone. I repented… really, truly repented from my anger and cursing. I was still on medication…still battling….but when we are weak, God shines the brightest.

I still had a problem, though, so my mom told me she wanted me to try biblical counseling.

Being raised in a Christian home, I understood that the Scriptures were sufficient for all areas of a believer’s life. What I did not realize until then, however, is that I failed to actually apply the truths of Scripture to my every day thinking. My core problem was not that I was born with a chemical imbalance in the brain. I was born as a sinful being, completely corrupted in every possible way. This sinful nature and corruption extended to the thoughts and motives in my heart.

Behavioral therapists told me that I would never be better, but would have to learn to live with the imbalance of who I was. But the truths that I read in Scripture assured me of the exact opposite! I knew now that what I faced was directly related to the sin that dwelt in the deepest parts of my heart.

In order to overcome these difficulties, I needed to replace my sinful and self-focused thoughts with the basic truths of Scripture. So, I spent several months reading through the Gospels. It is here I saw that Jesus could heal any disease or illness in its totality. This same Jesus was the Lord that I was crying out to so desperately to heal me. The more that I placed my trust in Him, and saturated my mind with the truth of Scripture, I saw a drastic decrease in the symptoms of my “mental disorder.”

I began to learn the importance of actually living out the truths I read in the pages of my Bible, applying every doctrine to my life. For example, when I felt depressed, I would meditate on the truths found in Ephesians 1, thinking on the benefits of God’s salvation rather than trying to think positively about myself. I began to memorize scripture to help me in my weaknesses, focusing on what God thought of me, rather than what I thought of myself.

When feeling anxious, I would turn to passages like Matthew 6:25-34, and focus on thinking thoughts about what was going on that day, not fretting about the future. It took months of discipline to start focusing on what was true and not dwelling on uncertainties. After several weeks, I realized that Jesus truly is the healer… of all things! What I needed all along was to focus my mind, thoughts, and affections on the Lord Jesus rather than on myself. The more a believer fights against sin and strives to live a life that pleases the Master, the more they will win the battle against a corrupt and hurting mind.

Working with a physician, I weaned myself off the meds. I lost forty pounds, and my skin cleared up. I don’t have a problem with guilt anymore—or picking. I still struggle a little from time to time, but that’s life, and it is no more than anyone else has to deal with. God has liberated me. It’s all I can do to thank Him for what He has done. I look at my life and I am blown away. I LOVE my family, my friends. I’m healthy, normal, and on no meds. He has healed my BROKEN heart.

I believe biblical counseling really did save my life, because I learned to become aware of my sinful nature, and to fight against the flesh at all times. Knowing Jesus and utilizing the power of His Word is truly the only way to overcome the challenges that seem to overwhelm us. I know for sure that God’s ways really do work, and can now echo the words of Psalm 116.

Join the Conversation

How has God used His Word through biblical counseling to minister to your heart?

BCC Staff Note: For resources for dealing with self-harm, click here. For resources for dealing with depression, click here. For resources for dealing with anxiety, click here. For resources on eating disorders, click here.