“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”

Oh, Sylvia. How right you were.

So, after feeling incredibly overwhelmed last night – to the point of talking to friends about it, crying, staying up until gone midnight ‘thinking’, I’ve had such a better day today. It’s been the perfect example of how I should be treating myself during recovery. Over the past few weeks I haven’t really been taking care of myself as well as I should be. I’ve been lurching from one day to the next, consumed in what’s going on at work, my relationship, my friend’s lives. Everything… but me. Mindfulness is such an underrated and valuable tool, and I mean that. I didn’t read it in some ‘dummy’s guide to Borderline Personality Disorder’ book that was published in the 80s – I’ve never really found self-help books to be… well, that helpful – I’ve learnt it, and I’ve used it, and I’ve lived it. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone – not just as a tool for recovery, but for life.

After initially distracting myself with Batman: Arkham City (fantastic game, incidentally), I approached a steaming hot bath. I slowly got in, noticing how good the hot water felt on my body (gosh this sounds like it’s getting a bit rude, doesn’t it?) and focusing on those physical sensations. I laid there for ages, feeling every bit of stress leave me as I stopped thinking about everything around me, and just was. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy – especially not at first. It’s a learned skill and you have to be committed to practicing it. You can do it, though. It’s a wonderful technique that has genuinely helped me so much.

I’ve also painted my nails. I know that’s a really small and insignificant thing, but it’s taking care of myself. Maybe not in a serious kind of way, but those little things are important. Just that action of doing something for yourself can make you feel that little bit better. I first started noticing this when I was going through Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). I started moisturising more often – particularly my arms, where my self-harm scars are. Oh, and in case you were wondering – I painted them in Aqua Glitter. My nails, I mean. Not my arms.

So, in summary – look after yourself. Learn about mindfulness – you don’t have to, but I honestly can’t recommend it enough. Paint your nails (you too, boys, if you like). Lose yourself in sensations (oh my). Be incredibly silly whenever possible. And be proud of every little step.

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?