The other day I was wasting time on Facebook and I made the mistake of reading the comments section on a post about scars. As a rule, I don't read the comments on anything (except for HONY posts) because there are a lot of really judgmental, idiotic people in the world and they really think that people care about their asinine opinions. In this comments section those judgmental people were talking about how people who self-harm are weak and disgusting. It filled me with sadness because I know that those people would feel that I am weak and disgusting- and no matter how much disdain I feel for them, it still makes my heart heavy.
I am sure that to most people self-harm is totally incomprehensible, for that matter I started cutting 15 years ago, and even to myself my own reasons to self- harm is a little incomprehensible. I can, however, tell you that cutting has only ever been a way to manage the war going on in my head- to feel something when depression has robbed me of any feeling, to give me something to focus on when anxiety has deprived me of sense and focus.
When I was younger I cut everyday- these days I guess you would say I am in remission, the urge is still there- but I fight it, I exercise, or sew or talk about it. When I was a teenager I felt that I was broken and unlovable- but now I know that there are people who love me and cutting does more than just injure me and scar my body- it hurts the people who love me. Recovery has been hard, and it has been filled with relapses and dark times; my struggle through postpartum depression was one of the worst relapses, and perhaps the darkest periods of my life.
It's particularly challenging when you carry the marks of your trials on your arms- kids ask questions about them, nosy women in Ikea comment, and I myself am reminded that when I am sad I could always just cut and feel better- if only for a moment. My scars don't feel like battle wounds from a war that I won but rather an imperfection to be ashamed of.
Recently, after much debate I decided to start covering my worst scars with a tattoo- taking my physical representation of the pain and depression I have struggled with for 15 years and replacing it with something that is beautiful. So I can look down at my arms for once and see something I find beautiful and inspiring. Making things beautiful gives me such hope. Starting this tattoo- on what has always been "the place" that I cut- is almost like giving myself permission to really leave the pain of the past behind- to be free of the stigma of cutting. Permanently taking away this particular area felt like removing temptation from my addiction which made sitting for the outline incredibly freeing (well, freeing and painful-because five hours of outline sure is painful). I greatly look forward to going back and having the color done.
In the end I should clarify that in my heart I know I am not weak like the internet trolls would say I am. In my heart I know that depression and anxiety are a war I fight every day, some days I might not feel like I am winning, but I know that every day I get out of bed and choose to be here, marks a day that I have won.