It’s the month of May again and that means that Mental Health advocates around the world are working assiduously to break the stigma that has had mental illness bond by shackles for hundreds of years now. Recently, there was an uproar on Twitter where a young lady was publicly called out for her self-harm scars that were showing in a very harmless selfie. And that’s what I want to address today: self-harming.
I was once there. I used to self-harm. You can read about that experience by clicking here.
It’s one of the few bad coping habits that I’ve developed over the course of my teenage life, and it unfortunately found its way into my young adult years. So because of this, I do have scars that show and are open to every single person I encounter on a day to day basis. I was once very ashamed of them; wearing jackets/sweaters in sweltering hot weather to avoid them meeting up with any wandering eyes. I’d also keep my arms at my sides at all times. It was like living in constant fear every day. Afraid of the comments, the stares…
After years of hiding and being ashamed of my struggle, years of fighting against the shame and losing, after years of having to remind myself that these scars show that I’m strong for still being alive…
I conquered it. I conquered the fear. I overcame the shame. And it all happened in a cosmetic variety store.
I originally shared this story on my WhatsApp status and I got a lot of great feedback and encouragement. I was afraid that my story was going to be ignored and that all the progress that I made was pointless, but I was proven wrong. One of my good friends even pushed me to write about the account on my blog and weirdly enough, I didn’t shrug off the idea. I immediately began to write.
I was shopping in a cosmetic store one day and I was browsing through, looking for some perfume. I saw one that I wanted and of course, asked the CSR if I could smell the fragrance before I purchased it (because I’d like to believe that’s what normal people do, right?). In order for me to smell it, she had to spray it on the sweet spot on my wrist.
Now for context, my left wrist has scars. It’s easier to self harm on my left wrist because I’m right handed.
So, when it was time for her to spray, without even thinking, I stretched out my left hand. It wasn’t until like seconds after, I realized that I gave her the arm with all my scars.
And the feeling I felt was… Unreal.
I didn’t feel ashamed. I didn’t feel pathetic, weak. I didn’t feel scared.
She saw them, obviously and she was very hesitant. But, not once during that entire ordeal did I mirror any of her emotions. I didn’t hesitate; I didn’t feel the need to want to rush her or pull away my arm or anything. After she sprayed, I put the perfume bottle in my basket and went about my day.
I felt so fucking empowered; it was unbelievable.
The old me… would’ve panicked. She would’ve fumbled. She would’ve stretched out her right hand.
But I’ve grown.
I’ve grown into this woman that I have no idea of. My mental illness is quaking! I’m no longer ashamed of my scars because I know they tell me, and many others, a story of all the things I’ve survived and how far I’ve come.
Healing and growth is possible with a mental illness. It may not be linear, but it is extremely possible. You will heal and grow eventually.