I don’t mind people I do not know seeing my scars, on the contrary, I am proud because it shows I am a fighter. Who are they to judge? I could not care less if other adults see older or more recent scars. But people I know? That’s a whole different case.

It doesn’t even really matter who it is, how I know then, when I met them. It is just uncomfortable. Their opinion not of my scars but of me, is vitally important to my brain. I do not cope well with the quick repeated glances. If I make it casual she won’t notice. Yes, yes I will, I’m a master at noticing. The brief look of sheer fear before recomposition. Look normal, look like you are not bothered. Some of this is my brain going into panicked overtime. They’re thinking how screwed up is she? They think I should have my shit together by now. Now you’ve made them uncomfortable, you should have kept your jacket on. God are they going to tell others, ‘you’ll never guess what I saw earlier’. Worst are they going to start up a conversation? Will they show some concern? 

I won’t go into any detail, I do not want to trigger. I first self-harmed when I was 12 years old. Now I work in a school I can see how young that is. A child. I have pretty much stuck with the same method since then, for thirteen years.

I do not have some desperate desire to stop harming, I refuse to pretend that I have. As I have got older, I have learnt that no professional expects this either. The good ones do not even comment ‘maybe not now, but eventually’. Some accept that it is my choice, some know that it is not realistic, some know that it is just too awful to imagine. Over the past year I have begun to understand my reliance. It has taken this long. It is simply that it makes my head calm down.

This is not a coping mechanism for when I have had a bad day, ‘what happened?’ is not helpful. I have always used harming to help with any emotion, don’t read this and encourage me to express my emotions, again I understand what I should do, that does not mean that I can do it. Often I do not even realise that I am experiencing any emotion, it is only a few hours, days, months later that I do.

I feel that self-harm has such a stigma attached still. I am so used to it and I have to remember that this does not necessarily mean that others have any understanding. They are scared…my frustration with this is not helpful.

Self harm does not equal suicide. It is often a way to stay alive, not die.

A close friend once said to me that he really was not bothered. It was just a coping mechanism, and we all have those.

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