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Why I Don't Hide My Self-Harm Scars in the Summer

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. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

I live with chronic major depressive disorder (MDD), social anxiety and complex trauma. These conditions sometimes lead to me using the ineffective coping skill of self-harm. I have some scars because of that behavior and a lot of times I feel insecure about them when they’re more easily visible.

People tend to stare at my arms, especially in the summer because I’ll wear shorter sleeves. I can feel their eyes and I can see people turn their heads for a second glance. No one has ever said anything to me and I’m happier with them keeping their thoughts to themselves. I’ll assume in my head that they might be judging me and then I remind myself that, even if they are, there’s nothing I could do to keep others from judging. Sometimes I’ll remind myself that some might be empathetic, while others may be judging me negatively and that’s most likely because they don’t understand. I did what I did and I have to live with the consequences. I’ve accepted that I used the behavior to get through some tough times and I know the truth behind each scar. I don’t need to share my story with every single, random stranger who sees my arms. I’ll wait for when someone asks me how I walk around showing my arms or tells me they understand. I’ll share my story with those who it might help.

For those who may have some self-harm scars also, I would like to tell you that they don’t define who you are. It’s OK that they’re there. You don’t need to be ashamed of your scars, even though there’s stigma behind the behavior. It was a negative coping skill used to help you through something; it’s OK. It means you actually lived through whatever dark moment was there. You still matter.

I still feel insecure in the summer about my scars. I still choose to wear shorter sleeves and let my arms feel the sun because that is what I want for myself. I don’t need to shame myself into hiding just because there is a stigma around self-harm. In fact, maybe one day I can educate others about the behavior.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via littlehenrabi

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