The Scars You Left


There must be over a thousand scars on my body. Some from childhood adventures, some from major incidents, one from being stabbed too. But the rest, they're from self harm. Cutting myself, everyday, repeatedly. This isn't an easy subject to understand. Some find themselves in denial of what self harm really is, calling it attention seeking or manipulation. Others are open to learn more about it but simply can't understand the complexity of it.

You see, self harm isn't just cutting yourself, it's burning or scratching yourself, it's drug abuse, alcohol abuse. It's any form of harming yourself to cope. My main form of self harm has always been cutting myself with a blade but I've also caused damage to myself through drink and drugs. If someone uses alcohol to cope with a difficult time in their life or past traumas that hurt them, what do you see? I appreciate that it's subjective but I imagine most would see someone who is struggling, who needs helps and feels like their only way of escaping and coping is to dive into a bottle. You wouldn't see it as attention seeking, would you?

What about a drug user? Someone who is getting their fix every few hours to numb the internal pain and the intrusive thoughts. Selling their belongings to pay for another hit. You wouldn't see it as manipulation, would you?

Nor would you leave a bottle of alcohol on the side or offer them a line when they're trying to recover. Because no matter how much rests on them getting better, no matter how much they have to lose. It doesn't mean they'll be able to resist that overwhelming urge. This isn't because they don't care, or that the drink and drugs are more important to them. It's just proof of how much of a hold their coping mechanism has on them. Substance abuse, temporarily, numbs the pain. It silences the demons and for a short while, there is a distorted sense of calm.

This is the same for cutting. So why is it seen so differently, in such a negative light? "If I'm honest, I miss it, that feeling you get as the blood pours out down your arm. When time just stops, the pain along with it, and you're comforted with a sense of calm." - Noisy

People use their coping mechanisms for different reasons. For me, there was never a singular reason to cut myself. Throughout my life it's been a mixture of dealing with my unstable environments and trying to suppress the haunting memories of my past. At times the physical harm I inflicted on myself, temporarily, stopped the mental torture I had to endure on a daily basis. Sometimes I would do it because I struggled to tell the difference between what was real and what wasn't, so I'd make myself bleed to see if it was reality, or a dream. Cutting myself would silence the voices in my head, because all I wanted was five minutes of peace. I've also used self harm when I've been suicidal, inflicting serious damage and great amounts of pain, in hope that the suicidal thoughts will pass. And sometimes I've done it because it's my comfort blanket, it's what my brain recognises as a way to cope in stressful situations, and for that, I was rewarded with endorphins. Once that link is made, it's almost impossible to break. Almost.

"Yes but you're scarring your body, they will stay with you your whole life, people will see them."

Oh so you don't like the look of the scars that are left? You put the blame on me for inflicting the physical harm on myself and leaving a permanent reminder on my body. Your blame is misplaced, the blame lies at the feet or the person who caused so much mental trauma that I had to resort to this to cope. You don't mind my mental scarring, because you can't see that. It's hidden away and it doesn't bother you. Along as you're comfortable, fuck everyone else.

"Yes but it doesn't solve your problems. Once you've done it your problems are still there."

You don't need trainers to run either but it fucking helps.

You're right, and I'm completely aware of the fact. But if you had the inner turmoil that I have, the voices screaming at you, the PTSD replaying traumatic events, the guilt and pain you feel everyday, the suicidal ideation. Wouldn't you do it? My Psychiatrist is hardly available, all he does is increase my medication and reminds me to take it on time.

"Yes but you're hurting the ones closest to you, those who love and care for you, it's selfish."

I see the pain I'm causing, and I wish that it was enough to stop me doing it, but it isn't. It just adds to the mental torture I now have to endure. I apologise to them repeatedly, and I try my best not to do it again, but can't you see the hold it has over me? If it was that easy to stop, don't you think I'd have fucking done it years ago?

Is it still attention seeking if I'm sat in my room alone, and nobody knows I've done it? Is it still selfish if I wear long sleeves so you don't see the scars that are left behind? These negative and false ideas of self harm only cause further damage. They don't help the person recover, they push them further into the black hole that's consuming them. You don't have to understand it to help, you just have to be willing to understand. It's a complex subject that doesn't give yes or no answers to your growing list of questions. There isn't a quick fix for it, there's no medication that can just stop it. It takes time, and a lot of hard work. And when a person is on a road to recovering from self harm, don't be fooled into thinking it's a straight road ahead. It'll have sharp turns left and right, it'll go back on itself when they relapse, and the surface will be so uneven that, at times, they'll have to crawl to keep moving forward. Some days they'll walk further and make more progress than usual, and some days they'll barely move an inch. Don't doubt for a second how hard that road to recovery is.

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