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My Relationship with Scars

15 December 2016 | Post A Comment

With mental illness doubt is often a dominating emotion. You doubt yourself, your worth and your feelings, you doubt what others think of you and you doubt the experiences you have been through. 

A couple of years ago I was left with bad bruises on the inside of my arms and the backs of my hands from blood tests after my traumatic experience in hospital (you can read about it here). They were my only visable physical reminders of what I had been through. To me, these bruises validated my trauma. I was in a bad place and my unwell mind took various stages to process what had happened. When the bruises faded I was devastated, my personal validation had gone. 

When I was younger I was very aware that adults seemed to be obsessed with the scars that I left on my body. Therapists constantly reminded about how the scars would make me feel when I was older. My mum made me apply bio oil regularly to encourage them to disappear. I thought everyone wanted to remove my only evidence of the pain I was going through. Teachers wrote reports about how they were worried about me because of the cuts and scars on my hands.

I felt like they all missed the point. Mental illness is so isolating and invisible. If I could display on the outside how I felt on the inside, I would, and it would look like viscous scars. 

My body is littered with evidence of self hatred, anxiety and despair. I can look at each scar and remember clearly the moment it was inflicted. They remind me of what I have been through and what I have survived. 

Sometimes a particular scar will catch my eye and the memory associated with it will come flooding back. Sometimes I look at the oldest, most faded scars that only I can see and feel sadness remembering the emotions that drove that young girl to cause herself harm. Although I don't necessarily agree, I am now able to understand what the adults in my life were trying to say. The scars tie me to that sadness and distress and the permanence can sometimes be upsetting. But I am not ashamed or embarrassed. 

We all started life with nearly an almost blank canvas. Scars are proof that we have lived. The scar on your right foot when you fell off your bike, the chicken pox scar on your back that you can only see in a mirror and the acne scars on your face from a hormone fuelled adolescence. 

Scars are the story of a life lived, on the body that lived it. And I think that's beautiful.

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