The Mighty Logo

The Story of My Self-Harm Scars

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Article updated August 12, 2019.

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.

He found a scar and asked if I did it to myself.

He has asked that before but man, I am a world class liar.

I could get anyone to believe it was a clumsy catch in the kitchen or a fall because I cannot walk without stumbling, or even say I just don’t remember a trip when I had too much to drink. I could tell him anything and get him to believe that scar was some silly accident and nothing more.

Explaining self-mutilation is one of the hardest parts when opening up about this illness.

Sometimes, I wonder to myself if people see the scars and think it was just a clumsy accident, or does it run through their minds that I harmed myself? I wonder if they silently have thought about trying it themselves, or if they already have.

How hard is it to understand the thought process of the disease if you’re thinking from a perfectly healthy mind?

Why would you physically harm yourself and cause permanent damage that is so visible?

Is it a cry for help?

Is it just to make sure you’re alive?

Is it to make the outside just as “ugly” as you feel the inside is?

I was once asked what the inside of my mind looks like.

It looks like dark, deep scratches on gray walls. It looks like a deep hole and you’re stuck at the bottom looking up at the clouds covering the light at the end of the long, long tunnel.

That’s what the inside of my head looks like when it gets bad.

When it gets good?

There are flowers over the deep scratches. The flowers are every lie I tell myself and everyone else. The flowers are the smiles I plant on my face when things start to go well because duh, I have to be happy when “great” things happen. The flowers represent everyone who loves me and rely on me in their life. They shine on my good days.

But after the good days, bad days always follow.

So why the self-harm? It starts with comparing physical pain to emotional and mental pain. It’s the feeling of being emotionally drained, like that after a loss of someone or the loss of a job. That emotional exhaustion that leaves your body feeling like it got hit by a truck right after you ran a marathon up a mountain in freezing rain.

Everything hurts for no reason at all.

You feel all this pain inside and out, but there is absolutely no sign of your pain.

So you harm yourself.

Whether it is because you feel like you cause so much pain to others that you must feel pain too, or you’re just trying to make the outside match the inside, you harm yourself.

And for a brief moment, there is relief. Just like drugs, it wears off. Then what?

Well, then you get professional help or you do it again.

But the thing is, no matter how many times I harm myself, I found myself back at square one. 

I also found myself lying to my therapist about it. I was terrified that, if she knew, she would lock me up in a hospital or worse, tell someone else. An act that feels so natural to me, disgusts others.  

But it is all part of my story. I’ve made peace with my scars and now they mix with the beautiful art that is also forever inked into my skin.

Soon, the scars will be completely covered by ink in the shape of flowers, vines and birds.   

The scars will be part of the past. 

Just adding to the story that is my life.

Follow this journey on Loving Jaimie

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via contributor

Originally published: June 9, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home