“This weekend we can be expected to see temperatures reach highs of 32 degrees…”
To most people this is music to their ears. Time to get out the shorts and vest tops, have a drink and sit in the sun for hours, relaxing and enjoying it.
For others there is the feeling of "oh no… what can I wear? How can I cover myself? What are people going to think?. . ."
These are the thoughts myself, and others who have gone through the same sort of struggles as me start to think. We get that feeling of anxiety and dread of how to best cover any scars.
From my illness and scratching I have lots of marks on my arms. It is something I am very conscious of, not because I feel ashamed, but because of what people may think and conclusions they will come to when they see them. I see people notice and look at them, and then look away in embarrassment, lost for what to say. They just don’t know what to think and are clearly more embarrassed about it than actually I am.
These are marks you are ‘supposed’ to or are ‘expected’ to hide because you 'should' feel embarrassed. However, this all brings it back to that same old stigma surrounding mental health. Being made to feel like this about your scars re-enforces the stigma, that makes you feel ashamed for something that is not your fault. It is something that has led you to the point of feeling so bad and in so much pain you feel the only way to deal with it is to hurt yourself.
Self-harm is a very difficult thing for people on the outside to relate to. It is hard even for people struggling with it to understand why they do it. This is not something I am going to discuss in this post as it is long, complex and needs a lot of thought, but in time that post will come and it will be a tricky one.
For me, and many others our scars show us what we have been through. Each mark represents a difficult moment we have overcome; we have worked through and survived.
Each mark is a little victory.
Where some people think we will be ashamed of our scars and feel uncomfortable about them, they actually prove to us how strong we are. They remind us of the things we have been through and survived, however impossible it seemed.
What I want people to take away from this blog is, if you have scars don’t be ashamed; they show where you have been and are part of your story. If you see someone with scars don’t feel embarrassed; it has taken the person a lot of bravery and strength not to cover them up. They have reached a point of acceptance that the scars are part of them in the same way the illness is, so others should accept them instead of making them feel judged or ashamed or embarrassed.
As I say a lot… mental health is not something to be ashamed of and it just happens that scars can come along with it too and it is just in summer when people can visually see the struggle and pain we have and are going through.
So yes summer time comes with scars, but the scars show the strength and courage for what you have and are battling through. So wear your scars not with shame, but pride for what you have overcome.
One of my favorite twitterers, @lizatkin, tweeted this, which pretty much sums it all up…