The Cycle of Self-Medication


Pain is pain.  Or should I say pain is a pain.  There’s no way around it. You can’t be human without experiencing it. People can tell you to stop feeling hurt, but it won’t make it any better. My husband and I laugh about it now, but he used to say “stop feeling that way” as if the pain was something to be turned on or off. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain, and your source of pain is the not the same as mine.

It’s not that there is no way to heal it, it’s the process of healing that baffles me.

Not all healing is instantaneous. When Jesus was in Bethsaida, Jesus prayed for a blind man’s healing. He asked him what he saw. The man said ” I see men as trees, walking,” then Jesus prayed for him again, and his healing was complete (Mark 8: 23-24).  Christ’s mission was to bind up the broken-hearted and heal our wounded hearts. I trust in that, and time and time again when I go to Jesus with pain; I learn something new about myself.

Pain is a teacher.

Pain helps me to learn my soft spots

Pain is not useless so stop telling it to go away.

We all have to learn how to deal with IT, whatever the IT is in our lives. But I realized something recently, that every time I try to get away from IT, it will keep returning like undelivered email or like a letter you drop in a mailbox, and someone keeps saying “return to sender.” Ugh! You’re stuck with the original package.  You’re only stuck until you get it right, though.

One thing I’ve noticed is that, like physical pain, we try to get out of emotional pain ASAP. We have a headache; we take a pill. We have a sore tooth; we go to the dentist. If I burn my hand, my whole body will rush to the aid of that hand—feet are running to get cold water, my body bends over, my other hand instinctively grabs the hurt one. All of these are natural reactions to pain. We want to feel normal again.

So here’s my question today (that I’ve had to ask myself as well). What exactly is my process for getting out of emotional pain ASAP? Now orthodox Christian, biblical wisdom tells us to cast all our care on Him because he cares for you. We know those scriptures don’t we. God tells us to pray when we are troubled. I’ve tried it, and it does work as advertised!

In my journey, though,  I’ve had to cry out to God to deliver me from those habits of self-medication. It’s amazing the things we reach for and yearn for to make ourselves feel better.


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I grew up in a house of turmoil-arguing, threats of violence, and fights between my parents. As a child, my way of dealing with my pain was food. I have always had this struggle between me and food. I used it to soothe my pain and hurt. Maybe it was cigarettes, drug habits or alcohol, or some other type of destructive medication that could have captured my attention but it didn’t.

Dealing with food has been hard because you need it to survive, but my relationship with food has never been healthy, and I struggle with this every day. I was thinner than I am now from high school through my early adulthood because I was so active. But then as the struggles of life hit me, I was soon back to my normal self. I was still trying to overcome this need to make myself feel better with food. I would pray to God to my problems, and yes, the Lord blessed me in prayer, but if you don’t realize the connections, you can’t make the change.

So even after prayer, I still felt that I needed something sweet or my favorite food to give me a certain feeling of comfort. Don’t ask me why. If I knew, why I probably wouldn’t have kept doing it mindlessly for so many years. One day, I made the connection between my feelings and food, and asked myself why would I binge like this? None of this is making me feel better. How was this helping my life? I became conscious. That was the first step. But I am still just at the level of being aware, but the struggle is real ya’ll.

I keep a journal and write down why I have an urge to reach for food and usually, it’s because of some hurt, emotional pain, or stress. Sometimes it can be as simple as a bad memory or feeling of pain that comes back from the past. The thought of food is right there, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and He has been helping me. I recently lost 14 lbs, and I hope to keep that going. I know that people who have never self-medicated have no idea what I’m talking about, but I also know that a lot of people do.