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If You Feel Ashamed of Your Self-Harm Scars, Read This

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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, visit this resource.

You should never have to feel uncomfortable or ashamed just because you have scars on your body, especially if they are self-inflicted.

Being a self-harmer isn’t easy. It can be an addiction, a constant longing to do something harmful, simply because it “feels good.” Like most addictions, it’s hard to stop, but oddly satisfying once you do. You shouldn’t feel ashamed of the scars that are left behind when many don’t realize how strong you had to be to stick around long enough for them to become scars in the first place.

I self-harmed for many years and although I’ve only been self-harm free for a little over a year and a half, I still struggle with the desire to do it almost every day. Certain things tempt me and overwhelming feelings I can barely process, instill a longing I can’t explain, but the satisfaction and accomplishment I feel when I don’t do it is so much better for me. However, like many people who self-harm, I’m naturally riddled with scars from previous incidents. And if I’m being honest, they used to make me feel ashamed of my own skin to the point where I would intentionally wear clothing I knew would hide them, which for me was rather difficult as many of my scars are in unconventional places and not just isolated to my wrists or arms. Because of their placement and the fact I had to wear tank tops at my job, I often felt ashamed and would have to lie to hide the real story of how I got such an “awful” scar. Granted, you should never have to lie about something if you don’t want to and you shouldn’t answer a question about your scars if you aren’t comfortable doing so.

Eventually, I learned I shouldn’t feel ashamed about my scars. Regardless of how they came to exist, they are still a part of me. And yes, it’s a reminder of an “ugly” side, but it’s also a reminder of strength. It’s a reminder I was coping with pain in the only way I knew how, that I was dealing with everything life had in store for me and moving on even if I had something to keep pulling me down. It’s a reminder of how strong I had to be to change my habits and find new outlets, and most of all it’s a reminder of the perseverance to keep on living when all I wanted was to make it all stop, and I’m not ashamed of that. We can’t always predict what’s going to happen, but we can control how we look at it and that goes for shame as well. It’s OK to have scars and it’s OK to not be ashamed of them.

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

Originally published: October 28, 2019
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