Author: Lauren S.
Many people use self harm as a coping mechanism, as it is thought to release chemicals in the brain that make us – those with mental illness – feel happier. Although there are other forms of self harm, including punching, scratching, pinching, and hair-pulling, some forms, such as cutting and burning, can leave scars. Many people, including me, are insecure of their scars.
Having dealt with self harm for years, I constantly got asked, “What’s that mark on your arm?” Because I was fearful of being judged, I usually would come up with some impetuous excuse. It got to the point where the majority of people knew what these scars were from, so I began covering them up. Because there were marks everywhere on my body, for nearly three years, my wardrobe consisted of only long pants, mostly long sleeve shirts, and an uncountable amount of bracelets.
I became vastly tired of wearing long sleeves all the time. I was always extremely aggravated when it would be hot out because there was nothing I could do about it – nothing I could wear. When I would decide to wear a short sleeve shirt, I would have bracelets stacked up my arms.
Eventually, I started seeing reasons to stop harming myself, and I starting doing it a lot less often. As much as this was an addiction to me, I did everything I could in order to prevent myself from doing so. I got rid of anything and everything I could possibly use, including razors, lighters, and pencil sharpeners. I started doing the butterfly project, where you or someone you love draws a butterfly on your wrist, and you can’t self harm until the butterfly fades away. I found myself drawing butterflies on my wrists nearly all the time.
When I first started recovering, I was ashamed of my scars. I thought that when people saw them, they saw me as someone who wasn’t strong enough. I thought they saw me as weak. I thought they assumed I was insane for putting these marks on my own body. Observing my scars reminded me that I was a failure.
Looking at my scars would bring me a massive amount of emotions. I felt angry knowing that I had done this to myself. I felt distraught knowing I was going through such a rough time. But, I also felt strong knowing that I had somehow gotten through those times.
Ultimately, I began realizing that my scars were nothing to be embarrassed about. My history of self harm doesn’t make me insane or weak. Each scar resembles a time when I was going through hardship, and to me, that shows that I have gotten better. I’ve learned to accept the fact that scars are permanent. I’ve learned to move on when I have the occasional relapse. I’ve learned to forgive myself for my scars.
During the last few months, I have been a lot less afraid of what people would think about my scars. I stopped caring if people saw them. If people want to judge me for my past, let them. I know who I am, I know who I am not.
I’ve learned that letting my pain out does not have to leave a scar. I still have relapses once in awhile, but I have learned that there are other, healthier ways to relieve my pain. Seeing scars fade is a sign of strength. I am strong. I am amazing. I am proud. I will fight. I will recover. I will win.