Learning to Love Myself With My Self-Harm Scars

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

“When I see my scars, I fight disgust — but I do not truly hate them. Why is this so? They remind me. I remember. Everything. I will always remember. They represent pain. They represent life. At times when I had no other way of showing it, pain that had built up was etched into my flesh forever. I’m not proud. Do not be mistaken. My razor was the brush, my skin the canvas, and my blood the paint. But it was not beautiful. Most of the artwork birthed from anger, guilt, numbness, or self-punishment. I felt so little and thought so much. It is both a blessing and a curse to be a thinker. That will forever be the case.

Despite this, there was unexplainable relief in the opposite sensation: of feeling too much and not thinking at all. Powerful expressions of raw emotion plagued me into horrendous actions and taunted me with their permanence thereafter. Each scraggly line of scar tissue was a moment when the reasons to live held on tight and came out victorious… My scars are the markings of a fighter — permanent reminders for someone who battled what I assume was depression and mental anguish daily for years.

I assure you — I love life and I look forward to the future. Understanding that, you can see how frustrating of a struggle it is when your brain defiantly disagrees with your heart. I still fight daily against those disagreements. However, there is a silver lining born from all of the struggle and blood, and it’s simple: None of these scars were previously near-fatal wounds. I am still here… alive. That is all that truly matters at the end of the day — that darkness never won.”

I wrote these words in a blog post of mine about six months ago.

I read it again and again, baffled each time. I talked about the pain that screams from the scars. The pain endured or lessened. The pain controlled or exacerbated. I talked about the stigma that kept me from asking for help. Ask for help. Light cannot find you if you sit isolated in darkness. Ask. You are not alone. You are not helpless. I talked about this because I still struggle with this. I wrote my heart out not wanting to forget how valuable a hug is or how warm that cup of coffee with a friend feels like. I didn’t want to forget the love that wrapped me so tightly in her arms when someone prayed for me. I can’t forget that. So I wrote about my struggles and shared with the world for the first time.

You have to understand: Self-harm is a beast of its own. In recovering, I simultaneously feel that I never struggled with it at all and also that I still do horrendously. Either it plagues me, or I forget about it sometimes. That is, until I see people staring at my arms at the grocery store or at school or even at church. Then I remember. I remember how difficult it is for me to embrace my body as it is now. I remember how much I still struggle to live in a sunny state and to wear a tank top or shorts — or a swimsuit. I understand. It will get better. Self-worth isn’t something you gain in one night. It is a process. It involves changing your way of thinking and embracing the positives that others pour into your life. Don’t put yourself down. Don’t give more weight to the insults thrown at you than to the subtle whispers of your greatness given to you.

This is a process, my friend. Some days, I still hate me. I have to snap out of it. I am worth more. You are worth more. Don’t let scars define you negatively. You are alive. You are beautiful and you are handsome. (Yes, men struggle with self-harm as well). You are strong and courageous. I just wanted to remind you that you aren’t alone. I understand. Some days drag endlessly. Some days you may fail to find confidence. I want to remind you that it is OK to not be OK. It is OK to still struggle sometimes. It is OK. You are OK.

It isn’t OK to struggle alone. If you are currently struggling with self-harm, seek help. There is hope in help. Asking for help can bring light into the darkness. Break the stigma — your own mental health and well-being is infinitely worth it. If you are in recovery, keep on. I know it’s difficult. If you haven’t heard this: I am proud of you. To overcome is no small task. Keep on. Keep seeking support. Keep loving yourself as much as you can. You are loved. The scars don’t make you any less lovable. In any regard. People who say otherwise don’t realize that true beauty emanates from character and the soul.

Your soul is infinitely worth it. It is infinitely beautiful. Your wounds have healed. The scars will continue to fade a little more year after year. Rest in that. Take care of and value your body — but, more importantly, take care of that beautiful soul. Keep fighting my friend.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

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Self-Harm Recovery Is Hard, but Not Impossible

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The last time I cut myself was on November 30, 2014.

These past two years have been a constant battle between my dark thoughts and my not-so-dark thoughts. If you had asked me how my recovery situation would be like two years ago, I would have simply said “nonexistent.” I didn’t believe in myself, and many people struggling with self-harm think just like me.

Self-harming behaviors control you. When you think you have found peace within yourself, the thoughts will creep back in and almost force you to relapse. And yes, sometimes relapsing seems to be the easiest option.

Recovery is not possible.

This is possibly the most common thought people who cut have.

It is absolutely false.

Three years ago, I began therapy. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I learned how to control my emotions and thoughts and that relapsing is OK. It is an inevitable part of recovery. The key to recovery is accepting that you need help. Without acceptance, the pattern will continue.

Can I honestly say that in these past two years I have been completely happy? No, I have passed through extremely difficult phases, in which harming myself would have been the easy thing to do. Yet, I persevered and here I am, two years later.

Now this in no way means I will forever have control over it, but I strive for it. To this very day, I think about harming myself at least once a month. Each time I look at my arms, I see dozens of scars that reproduce bad memories, like a ghost lingering on. I feel ashamed, not necessarily because of what other people might think, but of myself. I wish I had never touched that silver devil with my skin, but it happened.

I cannot possibly do anything about it now, except strive for better. Whatever I may be feeling is nothing compared to the sadness I will feel looking at my scarred arms. I decided it’s not worth it anymore, which was perhaps was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

I now opt for other coping mechanisms, such as reading, writing poetry and these posts and even thinking about what I want to do with my life. Anything that calms me down is helpful. The reality is recovery is not a one time thing. It is a constant back and forth. No one should tell you that it is not possible, not even yourself.

Think of it this way, you wouldn’t want to spend your whole life having the flu. Instead, you would do anything possible to help yourself get better. Yes, recovery is incredibly hard, especially when we live in a society where mental illness has a huge stigma around it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

It is a long journey, with many bumps in the road, but with the right help, you can get through it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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The Stories My Scars Will Tell

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Shortly after my father’s recovery from a bladder and prostate cancer duo in January of 2009, he began telling a joke to family and friends when they inquired about his surgery. He would say “I asked the surgeon before he put me under if he could give me a six pack when he closed me up.” Then, my dad would lift his shirt and point to the diagonal scar scanning across his abdomen. “But he left me with this, a train track!”

When shown to a family friend, months after the surgery, the scar stood out prominently against his pale white belly as a purple-pink color causing more alarm than laughter. Now, the scar has faded to blend in with the color of his flesh, only distinguished by a subtle raise in the skin. When questioned further about the cancer, my dad will recall the time he “peed tomato soup” that lead him to seek medical attention. Even if the friend was not laughing, my dad enjoyed his own joke oftentimes chuckling at himself.

What he will not tell you, but what I remember most, is how his body shrank and his skin hung tightly onto his skeleton appearing to lose 50 pounds within a month’s time. I remember hesitating to hug him too tightly, afraid he would snap under my pressure. He wouldn’t disclose the job loss that followed a twice extended medical leave, or the times he would pretend to take the dog out, only to stand alone in the backyard, sobbing so profusely his shoulders would shake, rattling his entire body, and his face distorted, exaggerating every wrinkle.

Bladder cancer, his doctors had told us, was a cancer seen in smokers over the age of 60. My dad never touched cigarettes, and was 46 the time of his diagnosis. Our family contemplated a cause, considering stress of a position held for 17 years at the same company. However, he will only tell you of the one-liners, and flash his scar as his most earned punch line.

In December of 2009, 10 months after my dad’s surgery, I required my own stay at the hospital. Only for me, my infection wasn’t detected with MRIs or PET scans. My parents brought me to the doors of South Oaks as a last resort after weeks gone without eating, continuous sleeping, marks that ran up and down my arms and realizing I had been stealing my dad’s Vicodin which he was prescribed during his recovery from the cancer. My memory from this time is fractured, however I remember taking enough to be induced to a sleep lasting a full day. I remember lying about where I was often, going to school only to come back home and sleep.

The marks on my arm remain cryptic for me to absolve or atone. I often time wish for the opportunity to speak to the younger version of myself, seeking a justification for the habit. Years of therapy concluded that it coincided with the “severe instinct to self-destruct.” Returning to these memories, I encounter a girl whose keen desire was to run. I recall multiple instances when I would run away from home. One time only lasted a few hours, another four nights. My destination might have been the next town over to someone’s house, or a train to the beach where I spent an entire evening on the boardwalk until the sun rose in the morning. None of these fickle attempts were meant to leave home permanently, I don’t think. Nor do I think I would ever stop coming back home.

This hospital visit lasted a month, until I was released in January of 2010. Instead of celebrating a year of being cancer-free, my dad along with my mom were researching alternative options for me to attend school. They heard of private programs, ones they wouldn’t be able to afford, and reached out parents in the community who have dealt with a similar scenario. After months of homeschooling, I returned to my high school the following year. I evaded therapy, and continued my use of Vicodin and Xanax as a previously diagnosed “borderline personality disorder” and “depression” heightened.

When I entered college the following fall, these illnesses manifested in a perpetual isolation. My first year and a half of college only returns to me in flashes, in the infrequent times of clarity and calm. The unclear moments are manic episodes of speeding my car on the Hutchinson River Parkway at 3 a.m., or climbing the campus’ castle in the same late hour allowing my feet to dangle off the ledge for hours. There’s a picture of me from my second year during Christmas time, but my memory of that Christmas is completely obliterated. Gaps of time in between impulsive action are filled with hazy blurs of weeks spent in bed. The only evidence of consciousness are journals I kept during this time. The passages in the books covering this time range from incoherent scribbles to rambles of anxious and paranoid thought. There are pages where the pen seeps so deep into the page, the writing appears embossed on the paper. Other entries are separated by months, leaving rifts of unrecorded time.

After months of remaining unchecked, I found myself back in the psychiatric unit after an attempted suicide at age 19. After the initial detox, I began writing in a journal given to me by the staff. I would observe everything around me. I created stories for the other patients, and I penned verses of poetry in an attempt to translate my own experience into words. This entire stay at the hospital was spent scrutinizing the place I found myself in, watching everyone but myself. Unable, yet, to address the aftermath of these past few years, I clung onto writing. I carried the marble notebook and pencil to every group therapy, individual council, family visit and meal in the dining hall. I would stay up at night using the light from the nursing station to continue writing well into the mornings.

After being discharged, I was transferred to outpatient care. I took a semester off of school, found a part-time job shortly after, and created new rhythms such as schedules and routines. For the first time in my life, I turned to calendars, to-do lists and post-it notes. I continued to write, both poetry and short passages of fiction. My journals piled up, as writing became the vice to replace all previous addictions.

The following year, I enrolled in a new college closer to my hometown. Returning to this community didn’t involve me lifting up my shirt to tell a joke and point to a scar, but instead it consisted of hiding scars. Few people were told of my recovery, however I remained reluctant to share my story to the majority of my friends and family. I concealed my own scars on my arm with longer sleeves, and deferred the reason for transferring schools to a desire for change in scenery. I only confided in the pages of my journal, where the prose and verse allowed for the audacity to face myself. I showed these filled books to no one, but allowed every inch of thought to be spilled inside.

A poem began forming over the course of a year. I gathered corners of papers and backs of receipts releasing a repeating theme of hands, or of building something. I fused together the fragments finding myself creating a mosaic. It contained my experience with addiction, suicide, depression and of recovery. The words I wouldn’t use, the definitions that got stuck in my throat when confiding in a loved one, every dark corner of the story was illustrated in this poem. There was an urge, for the first time, to share this story revealed in the poem. My friend, and poet, was emailed the finished product with the subject line “I’m not sure what this is, but I think you should read it.” Unknowingly, the poem was then submitted to a poetry organization, “True Voices.” The following email to me asked for a meeting the next week about participating in the organization’s next show.

My initial reaction was to return into hiding and ignore the request. It took immense persuasion, yet I found myself at rehearsals preparing for an event called “Blinded” in March of 2015. The day of the show, I was surrounded by poets who seamlessly fell into a cadence of mannerisms and routines that appeared effortless for the rest of the group. You were supposed to shout “Bars!” when a line in a poem sounded good, and you had to snap at the end of each piece. There was also a way you used your hand movements to emphasize your words, where the poets appeared to dance around the microphone in fluid motions. A yellow scarf hung from the microphone, and 300 audience members starred back at me as I told my story for the first time. In an attempt to mimic the movements of other poets, I got my hand stuck in that scarf having the stand wobble in front of me as I begun. Deciding the aesthetics would have to wait, I became bare and naked on stage sharing my story for the first time.

The liberation that followed the nervousness triggered a necessity to share. This distinct and brand new ache felt the need for community, after only knowing detachment for years. I sought out more opportunities to perform, to hear others perform and to be present in spaces that allowed my words to cultivate and my story to be shared.

After this time, I became frustrated with the scars on my arms. It was summer, and although the lines were fading they grew in my mind, becoming obscenely large and obvious in my perception. I had difficulty comprehending what I saw, unable to redeem the girl who expressed her pain in this way. The old skin that was raised like braille became cryptic when I traced over their shapes with my fingers. I remembered seeing pictures of breast cancer survivors getting tattoos which covered their scars across their chest. One afternoon, I spent hours on the computer searching picture after picture of elaborate and vivid tattoos cloaking the double mastectomies; some of enormous butterflies, others of dragons, birds, flowers or an entire garden.

This initiated my own desire for a tattoo, an option I previously had no interest in. My first tattoo was two weeks later, on my right arm where the Hebrew writing of the Torah’s Exodus 14:14 is written. The story I wanted engraved on my skin was that of Moses parting the Red Sea. Before taking the Israelites through, Pharaoh’s armies approached to attack the Jews. Panic escalated in the crowd, and before performing the miracle Moses, turned to his people to say “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” These words are now worn on my arm, a new scar painted over the scars that felt foreign and enigmatic.

On my left arm, my scars are covered with a pine tree. Hermann Hesse wrote an essay in his book, “Bäume” in 1984 of how we should live like trees. He spoke of how the source of strength for a tree is within them, holding within them the secret of their seed which they follow to the end. He writes “Out of this trust, I live.” To trust my own body, my own soul, my own proved to be the most discouraging at times, and also the most empowering during recover. If anything would be covering my scars, it needed to be branches and leaves growing from a tall trunk  — a trust manifested. To lay this image over my scars was owning this trust as my own. That I, too, could grow.

When I first came to my father to my father to tell him of my tattoos, he scoffed and told me to reconsider. I did not tell him of the extended reason why I made this decision, only that I wouldn’t budge and I already made the appointment with the artist. Shaking his head, he told me “As long as you can tell your grandchildren a decent story about it, do as you please.”

I contemplated how my children, and children’s children would perceive this story. I also think about how much of it is still incomplete, what’s left to add to it. I hope to find the voice to tell it all, and the courage to share it often. But, it will be told.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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When I Started Self-Harming Again

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

When I was 16 I started cutting myself. I was in the early stages of an eating disorder and I discovered one night that by cutting, I experienced a brief reprieve from the incessant food thoughts that had quickly dominated my life. I begin cutting myself nearly daily to cope. Within a few months I was regularly hiding an arm full of cuts, burns and bruises under seasonally inappropriate long sleeves.

When my friends found out, they told a teacher, who told the school counselor, who called my parents. I got into therapy, but I still self-injured. What mostly stopped my cutting was when I started dating a high school boyfriend. Revealing fresh cuts to him — to anyone really — was so painful and shameful that it outweighed the brief reprieve cutting gave me. The last time I ever cut was when I was 21 years old, during my personal rock bottom of meth addiction and general total life downfall.

In the years since, I’ve tattooed over many of my visible scars. I’ve gotten a couple social work degrees and now work as a professional in the domestic violence field. I’m married with two daughters and two dogs. I own a house and, by all accounts, am happy, together and successful.

Until last year, when I found myself cutting again.

This feels like a terrible thing I did, and perhaps a more terrible thing to talk about. The truth is, it happened a few times. My life had spiraled again to a somewhat out-of-control place. I was struggling mightily with a severe mental health crisis and the slow swing of medication changes that often go alongside such struggles.

Lest my falling be in vain, I’d like to share with you some things I’ve learned from my most recent foray into self-injury:

1. Desire and action are different things.

When I had a depressive break last year, all the dark thoughts of my teenage years came flooding back for the first time since I’d turned 21, gotten sober and found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I turned toward the light then, turned my life around, and never looked back. Until I was 31 and my past caught up with me. I struggled with suicidal urges and was appalled the desire to cut followed me around like a long-lost frenemy. I learned I could want to cut and not act on those urges. I held out for six months.

2. Medication works really well for me.

During a hospitalization in the psych ward, I was prescribed Lithium and immediately saw my self-injurious thoughts dissipate. Months later, when I briefly went off the medication, they returned with a vengeance. This was the first time I cut in 10 years.

3. Cutting scares the shit out of people.

I had a friend in grad school who confided in me she had cut herself after years of abstaining. Her disclosure rocked me to my core — I couldn’t imagine anything so bad it would drive this person I loved so dearly to injure herself so intentionally and severely. When I cut, I returned to that place of shock and fear — I imagined others thinking of me like I thought of her. I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t even tell my husband.

4. Cutting is the coping behavior that has filled me with the most shame.

I’ve done a lot of questionable things. I was a meth addict. I’ve been an off-and-on bulimic for half my life. But cutting is the hardest to talk about. Cutting brings up the most questions about attention-seeking behavior, or overall sanity, or indications of suicidality. I’ve talked about all of these things in my time — and pieces of the way all of them have affected my life in the last year — but not about cutting. I’ve only told my medical and mental health providers and — eventually — my husband and a small handful of friends. For the girl who seems to talk about everything, I haven’t found the forum yet to talk about this.

5. Cutting doesn’t make you “crazy.”

I cut myself and went to work. I cut myself and parented my kids. I cut myself and had sex with my husband. I cut myself with no intention of killing myself — in fact, no desire to die at all. I cut myself because I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to be OK. I cut myself to make my life better, not worse. I cut myself because I was, in fact, quite sane and utilizing what was the best coping skill available to me at the time. I wholeheartedly believe that. Maybe I have to.

6. Scars scar.

This may be the most obvious statement ever. I’ve lived with scars over much of my body for half my life now. I know people see them, but people never say anything. The only time I can remember being asked about them was when an uncle made a comment at Thanksgiving about my “playing in the blackberry bushes.” I was rocking years old scars at that point. It’s always been my prerogative not to hide them. But I see them every day. They remind me. They sadden me. I know if I could go back and undo any moments, it would be those. I didn’t understand at 16 how long life was (I’d guess at 32 I still don’t) or how permanent scars were. It pains me immensely to know I’ve recently added to the scars on my body, and increased the reminders of pain and strain and turmoil that live on the skin I’m in. 

7. I’d rather cut myself than kill myself.

If those are my choices (and I’m not saying this is the case for every person who cuts) I know which one I’d rather go with. No question.

8. Silence festers.

I actually go into middle and high schools now and talk to youth about identifying and responding to mental health concerns using my own personal mental health story. I talk about cutting in my teen years. I don’t talk about cutting in the past year, actually in the past six months. I don’t talk about it because it’s not appropriate or helpful. But that doesn’t mean being silent doesn’t kill me a little. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel a tug to tell the whole story, to break down any lingering facades of perfection or shit eternally gotten together. That is why I’ve written this today. This is a safe space for my experience, my life, my essence. This truth is mine to be spoken, and it demands to be so.

9. I am lovable even if I am scarred.

I am lovable even if I am unable to always access kindness for myself. I am lovable even if I am indignant. I am lovable even if my truth is painful. I am lovable even if my actions are scary. I am lovable even when I am bleeding. I am lovable even if I’ve failed. I am lovable no matter what is or isn’t present on my skin. I am lovable. So are you. 

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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6 Things I Want My Friends to Know When I Self-Harm

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

This post reflects my own personal thoughts and feelings. Everyone experiences things differently.

For me, self-harm is a cry for help.

I believe it happens when there are no words to describe your pain, no way to let others know just how desperately you need them. It may also be a way for those who are numb to feel like they can “feel again.” But it can also be a warning sign to those around us.

Not all who self-harm are suicidal. I haven’t been seriously thinking about suicide at all. Yet last night, I cut myself. For the first time in months.

Self-harm can come in many different forms. Some may be intentional, others accidental. It can come in the form of cutting, scratching, drinking, doing drugs — whatever else that is not helpful to us.

I had finally gone a month without using my three biggest self-harm methods. I didn’t drink, I didn’t scratch, and I didn’t cut myself. Until last night.

Here are some of the things I wish my friends knew when I self-harm. This speaks from my own personal experience, but it may be helpful to others.

1. I am doing this because I need help.

For me, the biggest thing to know is I’m doing this so someone can finally step up and help me; there is now a physical thing to show you my depression is real. I can’t ask you for help. Offer it. Please.

2. I regret it.

As I am doing it, I’ve already begun to regret it. Having to explain to people what my scars are, having to feel the pain as I shower the next day — it’s going to hurt long after I want it to. It was my last hope at feeling relief, my most desperate attempt at showing you how seriously I need you.

3. I am not always suicidal.

Sometimes when I self-harm, I have no desire to die. I just want to feel alive. A lot of the time I’m numb; I can’t feel anything. Sometimes, I’m just sad and want to feel something other than sadness.

4. It can be addictive.

I’m addicted to getting tattoos because, for me, it feels the same as self-harm. It just has a positive outcome. But when I do self-harm, the next week is spent fighting the urge to do it again. Suddenly, my scars look beautiful. They look tempting. My brain remembers the pain and how good it felt.

5. The day after is the hardest.

I’m fine today. I took my medication, and I’m not feeling emotionally unstable. I’m pretty decent for today. However, I crave so badly to hurt myself again. My mind has convinced me yesterday was not satisfactory. It did not hurt enough; it did not scar badly enough. I need to do it again to do right by my pain.

6. Again, I need you.

I need you to check in on me. At the very least, ask me how I’m doing. Someone you care about may be sitting alone in misery purposefully hurting themselves because they believe themselves to be worthless, hated, alone and not even worth a thought. Please don’t let us struggle alone any longer. Come to us, call us, take away our knives, make us cut our nails, force us to eat something. Do something that shows you care. I literally want to yell this at all my friends, “Please, do something!” I cannot do this alone any longer at this point. I need more than “I’m sorry.” I need your help.

I hope this helps someone. I hope someone’s friend might see this and take action to help their friend. When we self-harm, we are often in a bad place. We may need help getting back out of it. Please, please help us.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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To the Stranger Who Saw My Self-Harm Scars

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

To the stranger who gave me a double-take tonight while I was buying dinner:

Thank you for the kind, slight smile you gave me the second time you looked at me. We made eye contact, and I presume you saw my right forearm. How could you not have? Anybody paying attention and glancing at me would see it. There are red cuts all along my forearm and severe bruising, too. You can see just how fresh the cuts are — from one, maybe two hours ago? I can’t know what you were thinking, but I can say thank you for your smile, for possibly not judging me and just looking away in disgust. Here’s what I want you (and anybody else who sees my cuts) to know:

1. I do it, not for attention, but rather to punish myself. I’m already hurting, and I do this to hurt even more. I don’t want the attention; rather, I want to hide from it.

2. I’m in a lot of pain. Maybe not physical pain, but I am emotionally in a lot of pain — enough that I feel the need to take it out on myself and feel it physically. While it may not make much sense, sometimes the emotional pain is too much to bear, and to feel it physically can make it seem more real to me.

3. My scars tell a story, my story. I’m sorry you had to see them tonight. I try to hide my scars, but tonight after my run, I was trying to cool off by wearing my tank top into the restaurant. I’m sorry, yet I shouldn’t be apologizing. These scars are a part of my story and my recovery, my past and my future. I should not be ashamed of them.

I do fear judgment, but if I keep continually hiding, when will I ever be able to start a conversation and open up the dialogue about mental illness? I guess writing is a good place to start. Will you start a conversation and #BeThe1To?

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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