SCARS: Living with what I have done to myself

Emily Christie discusses mental health, self harm and moving on.

I live with scars from self-harm. They will be with me for years, possibly even for the rest of my life. I could view this as a negative - they act as a constant reminder of what I went through, the pain I could not communicate in any other way, the confusion and panic I faced daily. However, I will not let them drag me back to who I used to be, and I will not be ashamed of who I was… who I am. I chose to live. I chose to stop harming myself, and now I am choosing to accept what I have done.

I used to be deeply ashamed of my scars. As I stopped self-harming my issues with self-image began to grow. Although the mental pain that had caused me to hurt myself had lessened, my body was still constantly displaying it. I felt dishonest, misrepresented by my own skin. I wanted to have clear, smooth skin to represent my new ability to cope, but I could not wish the years of cutting away. So, I hid. I would wear cardigans and jumpers in the middle of summer, refusing to go swimming or to water parks so that no one, including myself, had to see.

I lived in denial of my own body. Even at home I would tuck my arm under cushions or cover it constantly, refusing to let anyone touch or see it, and cringing if I caught a glimpse in the shower or when I woke up. I was scared that if I saw it, felt it, shared my skin with others that it would be real, undeniable proof that I was damaged goods.

Then one day I looked. I stared and touched my bumpy skin and did not see horror, a badge of instability, but marks of strength. I had been weak when I did it, but now I am strong, strong enough to let myself heal, strong enough to be kind to my body. I realised slowly that my scars do not take away from my body; they are just a part of it. I see beauty in the raised white lines on my skin now, each one a mark of when I could have given up but didn’t. I used to think my scars could never be positive, but now they are. I am proud of who I am, I am proud of who I was and I am in love with myself - scars and all.