When Self-Harm Makes It Difficult to Feel 'Sexy'

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

Models and magazines can make feeling pretty the hardest thing in the world, but even their appearances are deceiving. I have to remind myself that those flirty, “perfect” girls are often Photoshopped or have had work done. I mean, no one is that flawless. And for a cutter like me, envying these girls is hurtful. Looking at that smooth, un-puckered flesh makes me want to cut more because, why don’t I look like that?

I have struggled with depression since I was 10 years old and started cutting when I was 11. It was one of the only outlets I had that made the pain of depression stop, at least for a little while. I didn’t know that what I was doing was giving myself a small “high” and it made me want to do it again and again. Yes — I became addicted to self-harm.

No one can see my scars unless you pull down my pants because I’m determined to live a relatively “normal” life without people seeing my scars. Mine are tucked neatly beneath the band of my panties, making even bikini wearing possible without the unwanted attention to my self-harming habits. It’s hard enough to have a positive body image as an average person — it can be even harder when you have depression. These cuts have impacted not just my life, but also my sex life and the way I feel when naked.

Being addicted to self-harm is a destructive habit that often leaves you feeling worse than before with burning incisions and insatiable itching. This makes feeling sexy difficult, especially when you have a fresh cut on your side that stings whenever you move, reminding you of all of the things you hate about yourself and all of the reasons you do it: stress relief, anxiety, spite, self-punishments. Often I find myself unable to stop self-harming. My hands twitch and can’t keep still because something feels like it’s crawling under my skin, dying to make me hurt.

I feel hyperconscious of my scars and sometimes those scars turn sexy-time into an awkward explanation. Guys’ responses to my injuries were all something similar. Either the idiot I was sleeping with didn’t care and just wanted to get into my pants, or I got something like, “But you’re so pretty, I don’t know why you’re so sad.” “But you’re such a nice girl. Why would you ruin your body?” or “But you don’t look sad.”

Yes. That is the “beauty” of depression. It’s invisible. It’s an enormous, ugly, gaping wound no one can see — but you — and sometimes it manifests into actual gaping wounds. Even with my current boyfriend, who has wholly accepted my scars (and the new ones that keep popping up), it’s still a little embarrassing for me, when we’re in bed, trying to lose ourselves in the moment and his hands are rubbing up and down my bare hips, where the puffy purple lesions are. What’s more humiliating is when he’s touching me and I wince because his fingers accidentally touched a sore cut.

My scars are not pretty, and maybe yours aren’t either. They are reminders of what we have endured. It can be hard to look at yourself in the mirror before a shower, staring down at all of those little scabs, but I want to stress that even though your scars are not “pretty” — you are. You are seriously beautiful. No amount of self-harm can take that away. The scars are just proof of your strength.

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 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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