CONTENT WARNING: Self Harm.
A friend asked me today how my writing was going, because it had been a while. Honestly, I’ve been struggling for motivation, but now I feel that I have to push myself to write this post. I’ve wanted to write this for ages, but it’s a difficult thing for me to talk about, but I’ve realised that I just need to take a deep breath, and do it.
I’m going to talk about self harm. Specifically, my self harm.
This has been an incredibly private part of my life for many years. As I’m pretty open about my mental health issues, it’s feels weird that this is so hard to talk about it, but considering I’m now in some kind of recovery, now seems like a good time to discuss it.
This post is mainly going to discuss my tattoos as a way of coping, and moving on from a dark period of my life where self harm felt like the only option I had, the only way to cope with my pain without burdening other people – though I now realise that that is a stupid thing for me to think.
I’m stubborn. I hate the idea that I cannot cope with things myself, that I’m not in control of my issues and mood. Clearly though, this is not the case. Recently however, I’ve discovered a creative outlet for my control issues: tattoos. I now have 7 tattoos, and every one of them is vital in my journey to recovery. My most recent piece has been the second scar cover up, which is the most important part of my recovery.
Both thighs have scars – one worse than the other however. This is how they looked in July of 2016:
Being this exposed was a milestone for me. But at this point my secret was out – my mum, the hero she is, had taken me to a&e not long before for the small scar visible on my thigh. And I was getting help. I’m happy to say that nearly a year later, my recovery is going well. Recently I got a tattoo of a rose on that leg, to reclaim part of my body that had previously been used to attempt to retain control in my life.
As you can see, the scar still remains – but it is no longer a focus when you see my bare legs. Another scar is also covered by this piece, and similarly with my other thigh tattoo, I am pleased to write. Getting tattooed has helped me enormously to feel better about the body that I treated poorly for so long. But I must emphasise that I am in no way ashamed of my scars. This final picture (which is not the best of the 3 by any means, but the fact that it exists fills me with pride) shows the one major scar I have yet to cover – and may not do so for a long time.
For ages, I hated this photo. Mainly because of the anxiety it caused that my worst scar was so prominently on display. However, as cliche as it sounds, I have grown to be at peace with it. I can now focus far more on what the picture is actually showing, which was an amazing waterfall I walked to with my best friend during our holiday in America last summer. So I let him upload it. As I said, I’m no longer ashamed of my scars. I’m not proud of them, but they’re on my body for a reason, a reason that I’m now getting help for – something I probably wouldn’t be getting without them!
I had to fall so far to be able to begin fixing myself. And it was a horrible journey. But I’m mending, slowly, and I hope that any of you who are struggling are able to begin/continue to mend too. It’s worth it.
For anyone affected by the topics discussed in this post, please find some support (suggestions below, although there are far more places available too):
Samaritans (UK): 116 123
Childline: 0800 1111
In an emergency please call 999/911/your emergency services number