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Friday, October 25, 2013

A frank conversation: Self Harm

I want to have a frank conversation about self harm.

I get very frustrated that it's something that is very difficult to have a frank conversation about because it's such a delicate topic for others and so poorly understood. There's too much emotion attached to it and I just need to speak my mind without worrying that I'm going to upset someone. The only person who I can be totally frank with who totally understands is another friend with BPD and is very unwell and difficult to see. When I talk to my psychologist about it I tend to be the one doing the educating. I have to explain why I cut, and I am not the one who needs to know that. I already know. I just want to talk about it.

I want to say that I hate it. I can't look at my reflection without feeling sad. Sometimes I look at my limbs and they don't look like a part of me. What are these strange stripey things attached to my torso? They can't be mine. I look at photos of myself without scars and think "That is what I look like really, these limbs can't be mine."

I want to tell people that I feel horrendously ugly. That when I spend time making myself look nice I am fighting against this sense that I am inherently hideous. I'm putting on a wellness mask. I hide behind a fastidious exterior because on the inside I feel like a freak. I don't want people to say "No you're not, you're beautiful!" It's nice and all, but it's extremely unhelpful. I need someone to KNOW what it feels like to be covered in scars that were self inflicted, to feel like the person in the mirror isn't us, that that thing is gross and awful and alien.

I look at these scars and I think "who did this to you?" I feel so angry that someone hurt me. Then I remember that it was me. I did this. No-one else. And then I feel really confused. Why would I hurt myself? Why would I cause pain to my own body? How could I do that? I am not a mean or violent person. So then I have to separate myself from this person who hurts my body. I am not them.

I split myself into different people quite often. I am not able to genuinely be okay with being both someone who hurts themselves and someone who loves their body.

It has been extremely difficult adjusting to having scars. I was always very confident about my body, especially sexually. I liked how I looked naked, I liked all my freckles, my curves, my boobs and hips.

After I started self harming I became very anxious about people seeing my body, where as before that I was proud of it, almost over confident. It was in such contrast to what I was used too that it really threw my head out of whack (more so than it was already). I didn't understand what it felt like to hate my body, and suddenly I did. So I split myself off from this part of myself. I am not myself when I self harm, I am my disordered self, and I blame her. I love my body; she hates it. This only begins to help me cope with how I look.

I got a job recently. My first job in over 18 months. My first job since starting to self harm. And it's in retail.

It's already getting to a point with the weather that covering up is just not comfortable. But at work, I need to really look the part. My manager doesn't want to ask me to cover them up, but unfortunately it's not for her to decide. I'm the face of the company now. Self harm scars can really upset some people. They can make people really uncomfortable. I know it's really not fair, but I understand that it's necessary.

It still hurts. I don't WANT to cover up. I'm not proud, but it's not anything for other people to be scared of. It doesn't mean I'm any less able to do my job. I know it doesn't look nice. But I go to a great deal of effort to look clean and well dressed because I believe in presentation being important. It's not like I don't care about my appearance. My self harm has nothing to do with how much care I take of my appearance.

I'm just tired of feeling shame. I'm so tired of it. I'm tired of worrying about customers being put off because I have self harm scars. I'm tired of not being able to love every part of my body. I'm tired of feeling so incredibly fucking sad that I have done this to myself.

I have wonderful people in my life who still love me. I have been intimate with people who still think I'm attractive. But it's harder being the person inside this body than the one looking at it.

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