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When Someone Made a 'Funny' Comment About My Self-Harm Scars

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Article updated August 12, 2019.

Dealing with self-harm scars in secret is hard enough, but when the scars are out there for people to see and comment on, things become much more difficult. I’ve been blessed to have a great deal of confidence and strength when it comes to revealing my scars. I’ve come to terms with them and see them as a part of who I am.

This was not an easy thing to do. It took lots of time and lots of overstepping my comfort zone. The biggest reason I couldn’t accept my scars was I was afraid of how people would react. Anxiety came into play.

If I wore a shirt with shorter sleeves, which revealed even just the smaller and shallower scars, I was constantly fearing the worst. Somebody could notice them and make fun of me. After that, I’d lose friends because everybody would think I was crazy. And in the end, I’d be alone and depressed and nobody would really care at all.

I was constantly consumed with fear.

This fear slowly decreased — none of the situations I imagined in my head happened. Most people would eye my scars but say nothing, and for those who did ask, I would answer their questions really vaguely and shrug it off. And so did they. This happened so easily because of my sunny disposition.

People have actually accused me of lying when I tell them I have depression because I “seem so happy.” But when I stopped being ashamed of my mental illness and the marks that were part of my illness, the idea of my scars being out in the open didn’t seem as scary anymore.

Soon enough, I had enough confidence to wear the clothes I wanted to wear. For too long, I had been wearing long-sleeves, but I so badly wanting to wear some of the cute short-sleeve shirts hanging in my closet, untouched.

One day, I was sitting in class in my short-sleeve attire, chatting happily with the people in the row behind me while we waited for class to start. I saw somebody’s eyes lingering on my arms, but ignored it because I assumed they’d keep their mouths shut like most people did.

I was wrong.

I’m going to tell you exactly what they said.

“You know, there is help out there for that!” They joked, laughing as if it was funny. I looked them right in the eye and said in all seriousness, “Thanks. I’m actually getting help already,” and turned my back on them.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard people joke about self-harm. But it was the first time someone joked about it in front of me, concerning my self-harm scars.

I still wonder what made them think that it was OK to joke about something so serious. Had I done something that made them upset? Did I ever joke about something serious in their life? Were they struggling with something but were too scared to talk about it and ask for help?

I don’t know.

I might never know.

What I do know is that self-harm is not taken seriously enough. Why? Most people will say it’s because people like to prey on the weak, or because people are just plain mean. What do I say? I say there’s a lack of education on self-harm. If people truly understood self-harm, they wouldn’t joke about it. If they felt what we feel when we self-harm, the jokes wouldn’t be funny anymore. Period.

There’s always going to be people who say things to make you feel even worse about yourself for self-harming. But they don’t have anything on you.

Do you want to know why? Because you are strong. You’ve been through so much and the marks on your skin show that, and the fact that you’re still here is proof enough.

Your story might be an ugly one. But that doesn’t mean you are.

Originally published: August 4, 2016
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