Self Harm, and Scars

Below is a post I made on the wonderful Minds Like Ours forum, and wanted to share it on my blog. It’s an issue I’ve touched upon in a previous entry, but felt it deserved its own post.

 

Something that’s been on my mind a lot recently, is my self harm scars. I recently saw this tumblr post and it made me think about how people perceive self harm scars, how many people hide their own, and the stigma surrounding self harm in general. People are finally starting to talk about mental health in a positive way, thanks to the amazing work of organisations like Mind, Minds Like Ours and lots of other fantastic charities. There are also lots of celebrities getting their stories out there in an effort to stop the stigma against illnesses such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders and so on.

Something I’ve noticed, though, is the lack of mention of self harm. I haven’t seen all of the BBC’s ‘It’s A Mad World’ season but I was very interested to watch a few of its programmes, such as ‘Diaries of a Broken Mind’ and ‘Failed by the NHS’. I was happy to see Borderline Personality Disorder mentioned, as well as a good, broad range of other illnesses. However, I was quite surprised at the lack of coverage of self harm. I do appreciate that self harm is a tricky thing to include… it can be very triggering, and something to be handled very delicately. But the problem I have, is that whilst I begin to feel better and more open about my disorder (BPD), I still struggle with my self harm scars.

I believe that a huge stigma still surrounds self harm, that hasn’t been addressed anywhere near as much as it should be by now. With all of the coverage and awareness that’s been created around mental health, why aren’t we talking about self harm more? We know how common it is, especially with young people… wouldn’t it help to know there were others, to see people’s scars and to know you don’t have to be ashamed? I remember when I was a young teenager, there was a documentary featuring the website Recover Your Life. At the time, I was a young, depressed teenager who had problems with self harm and just knowing there was a whole community out there of people dealing with it, and actively trying to overcome it, was such a huge comfort.

It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve had scars that are very noticeable. I used to self harm very ‘lightly’, and the scars were very faint. However, last summer I made cuts that were much worse and much deeper, which has led to bad scarring on my upper arm, and one large scar on my lower arm. I now cannot bring myself to wear short sleeves in public. I never minded this as a teenger when I had fresh cuts – I knew it was just for a few weeks. But my scars are still severe after over a year… and the idea of always wearing cardigans isn’t very appealing. I’m slowly starting to become less ‘ashamed’ of them but it’s not easy.

It’s not like you can walk down the street and generally see those kind of scars on someone – I’ve only ever met one girl who openly shows her scars, and her attitude about them is so admirable. Privately, I’m not ashamed of my scars as I’ve survived some really, really tough stuff and they are a part of my past – almost similar to how my tattoos represent parts of my history, so do my scars. The main thing that I struggle with at the moment, is keeping up that attitude in public and daring to bare them.

Do you have scars that they are self conscious of, or are you proud to bare them? Do you have any thoughts on the stigma surrounding self harm… and should we be doing more to raise awareness about self harm?

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2 thoughts on “Self Harm, and Scars

  1. My arms are covered in scars, and I struggle with it quite a bit. It took me a long time before I would go out in public in short sleeves – all of my scars were no longer red and screaming “look at me!” before I found that bravery. I do feel awkward when I’m being handed cash or change and have to flip my arm over to receive it from the cashier – I’m sure many have noticed the scars. Luckily I have yet to get any weird looks or comments.

    My biggest issue is when I’m around people I know but am not close with. For instance, at work, I always wear long sleeves. If I’m at a group function, I usually wear long sleeves. I’ve been questioned on it a few times – I typically just say that I get cold easily.

    I’m not proud of my scars. It’s a constant reminder of my worst days, and I hate that my past demons are exposed to people who don’t necessarily deserve to know about them. I don’t know that my past, in general, is something to necessarily be proud of. What I AM proud of is that I made it through it.

    I’m on the fence about self-harm awareness. I feel like, no matter how much awareness there is, people will never really be able to accept that others hurt themselves on purpose. It’s flabbergasting for most people, and many are downright disgusted by it. The other issue I have is that I don’t want people so aware that they decide to try it just because they’ve heard so much about it. Teenagers have so many unsafe coping mechanisms surrounding them on a daily basis, and I would hate for the awareness to cause an increase in self harmers.

    • Hi there 🙂 thanks for the comment.

      I totally agree with your point about being cautious regarding self harm awareness. Unfortunately, while it’s great to talk about self harm and help people in the process… it’s also dangerous in that it might give people ideas.

      The reason my scars were much worse in 2012 rather than the seven or so years previous to that put together, was actually down to a hint I saw on Tumblr of all places. I searched a particular Tag on there whilst feeling down, saw a hint about it, and ended up doing it.

      I’m going to slowly try to show my scars more and build up my confidence – I’m better about doing it with people I’m getting to know. Anyone who doesn’t like them or takes offence to them, just isn’t worth it. 🙂

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