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To Anyone Who Has Had Your Scars Called 'Disgusting,' We Are Winning Our Battle

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I’ve battled with my depression and self-harming habits since the age of 12, with suicidal thoughts first occurring around my 13th birthday. These came and went in waves, some worse than others. Some out of the blue, some reasonably triggered. However one thing was for sure — self-harm was my consistent coping mechanism. This was kept under wraps; only my best friend knew back then. I was terrified of the stigma.

Nearly 10 years on, at 21, the wave came in full on tsunami style. During this time I ended up in hospital numerous times due to suicide attempts or bad depressive episodes, and my cutting felt like an addiction. This was the first time I’d openly and honestly spoken to close family and friends about my suicidal thoughts and self-harm, however I would still attempt to cover up.

The reactions I received were varied but scarcely sympathetic. I was told time and time again this is selfish, disgusting and attention-seeking behavior — which is, I guess, why so many people keep these demons to themselves. I’m learning in time that a lot of people are quick to judge simply because of their own lack of knowledge and fear… not an excuse, but something to bear in mind.

There are a few moments that stick with me where it’d been a substantial time of no harming and I dared to wear a summer dress. I was usually met with stares of disgust, pointing and the comments, even from friends and family.

“It’s just warped and disgusting.”

“It’s not nice to look at. Perhaps you could cover up.”

As anyone with depression or anxiety will tell you, words stick with us. They play over in our minds time and time again. We overthink and analyze every syllable. And over time they may hurt and break us, instead of helping us in our self-harm recovery.

What some people don’t understand is that self-harm is a coping mechanism — not a positive one, but a way of coping nonetheless. And although harming and suicide have been proven to have strong links, just because someone harms does not necessarily mean they want to die. It also comes in many forms: pinching, scratching, cutting, hair pulling, burns, etc.

No, I’m not thrilled about the fact that sometimes I will feel pressure to wear a cardigan or jeans in the hot weather to cover fresh wounds, but a little part of me inside is proud of my scars.

They are proof I sometimes have to fight a horrible silent battle on my own, and I win. Sure, I come out with a few cuts and bruises… but I am still here when my own mind is telling me to leave.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: June 24, 2016
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