To the Condescending Dermatologist Who Made Me Feel Ashamed of My Self-Harm Scars
Dear Condescending Dermatologist,
I understand not everyone has a proper education about mental illness. And by the reaction you had when I lifted my sleeves, I don’t believe I was the first patient who has come to you for the reasons I had.
I was 15 at the time of my appointment with you. I have self-harm scars. They weren’t awful, but they were noticeable, and I was very self-conscious of them.
I had come to you because I wanted to know what I could do to get people to stop staring at me. I came to look for help so I would stop hearing the gasps of the people at the bathroom sink whenever I lifted my sleeves to wash my hands.
I came to you for help. Anyone with a mental illness can tell you that that is the most difficult thing for us to do.
It took a lot of convincing from my mom and others to even consider going to a dermatologist for my condition. I felt nervous when I walked into your office. I had to face a constant stigma of being “crazy” because I had the scars that I did. But I had also felt a little hope. Maybe you would tell me that there was some kind of magic creme or oil that I could apply and it would make my scars disappear, or at least make them less noticeable.
When you asked me and my mom into your office and sat us down I was very anxious. I had been prepping myself all night before to prepare myself for any answer you had. I didn’t have high expectations, but I wasn’t ready to hear the words that came out of your mouth after I pulled up my sleeves and asked for help.
“You know, the best way to get rid of scars like these is to not have them at all.”
My world then stood still. I was flabbergasted! I felt a rush of emotions. Amazement, horror, humiliation and the worst feeling that I was so afraid I would feel. I felt ashamed.
For me, feeling shame is the worst. There is no way to describe how much it weighs on me.
You made me feel shame for seeking help. And it felt horrible.
I honestly don’t even remember what you said to do after that, I was in shock. I left that office with my worst nightmare coming true. My shame was back and it would take months to get rid of it again.
I understand that everyone has their bad days and that some people don’t understand why I was doing what I was. But it wasn’t your place to make me feel shame. Nor is it anyone’s.
If there is one thing I want you to gain from this, it is to think before you speak.
Teenage Self-Harmer, and Suicide Survivor
Anyone else ever have this happen to them or someone they know?
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Image via Thinkstock.