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Self-injury can seem like the most accessible path to relief when other doors have been shut in your face, but self-harming to self-soothe creates a vicious cycle from which it can be difficult to disengage. Recognizing that there are other, healthier ways to feel better—ways that are still open to you—is vital to recovery.
My name is Desiree Brown, I live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and I am the new author of "More than Borderline" here at HealthyPlace. The first time I tasted those words, they disgusted me. Was I supposed to be in order? Would that then make me out of order? Like a common public toilet?
I've been on antianxiety medication since 2001 when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Out of some odd compulsion or perhaps, shame from having to take drugs to manage my mental illness, I weaned off my anxiety medications three times since I began. The first two times, it ended badly. The last time, it ended in disaster.
Almost every day, I tell myself I'm going to start work at 9:00 a.m. and be productive. Almost every day, I'm disappointed with myself. In my head, I'm a person with a million ideas, a million goals, and a million ways of making things happen. In practice, I'm easily distracted by, well, basically everything. It's frustrating. I want to push myself. I want to do amazing things, but I regularly find myself lying on the couch watching YouTube videos and barely paying attention. I struggle to be motivated.
Almost two years ago, I decided to try intuitive eating to distance myself from binge eating. I didn't trust my body to stay at a healthy weight without dieting, but I knew I had to try to break out of my eating disorder habits. It sounded like a dream to eat whatever I wanted without guilt or worrying. I was skeptical intuitive eating would work for me, but I was eager to try it as an experiment.
Has your anxiety ever made you say "no" to an opportunity that you wanted to say "yes" to? You are not alone if you have ever done that. More often than not, my anxiety holds me back from saying "yes" to opportunities that I'm interested in. While I feel a sense of relief when I say "no," I start experiencing feelings of regret soon. 
Even as a long-time writer, words do not always come easily to me. A major reason for this is that anxiety and depression give me negative messages. Depression tells me that no one will care about what I have to say. Anxiety tells me that other people will stigmatize me for my content. Regardless, writing is a huge part of my treatment plan. A few weeks ago, I came up with a writing exercise to help me appreciate and feed my passion. To learn about this exercise and how it helps my state of mind, continue reading this post.
I, like many, have been called brave for sharing my experiences with mental health struggles. It’s always sat weirdly with me as I’ve never seen myself in that light. I’m not brave for sharing my mental health struggles. I can see how folks would see bravery in speaking up when mental health stigma is so rampant. Yet, the term still isn’t one I identify with. It doesn’t fit quite right.
It can be difficult to navigate the shifting views of mental health and the stigma surrounding it in an adaptive and dynamic world. There is a duality to the increase of safe spaces and acceptance regarding mental health. The exhausting truth is although some people in society may be ready to hear our stories, not everyone is.
Disclosing an eating disorder can be uncomfortable—even downright scary. In fact, research shows the prevalence of those who suffer from eating disorders is vastly underrepresented. A 2019 estimate from the Global Burden of Diseases reveals that as many as 41.9 million eating disorder cases were unreported over the course of just one year.

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Kim Berkley
Hi Lexie,

Thanks for your comment. First, I would urge your friend to consider coming out to her parents about her self-harm if that's at all possible—I know for many people, this can help alleviate an otherwise pretty heavy secret to bear. However, I do understand that in some cases, this may do more harm than good—I will have to leave that up to your friend's judgment.

If disclosure is not an option, could your friend perhaps try arm bands? I've seen some quite pretty ones made to be worn on your upper arm—looking for adjustable ones might help to ensure they fit well and don't slide down during the day. Many of the ones I've seen are plastic or metal, but elastic armbands are also possibly an option. Temporary tattoos or body art to cover the area might also work, depending on whether she can wear anything like that at all on her skin.

I hope that helps. If you have more questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave a comment here or elsewhere on the blog. I'll be reading.


Sincerely,
Kim
Kim Berkley
Hello,

Thank you for your comment. Know that it's not unusual to feel this way—I've seen many comments (since I started writing here) about fading scars triggering urges to self-harm again, even long after the recovery period has begun. I'm glad that you're trying to keep from going back to self-harming—and that you decided to reach out for some support in doing so.

Before I suggest anything, a reminder: I am not a therapist or mental health professional. I would strongly urge you to connect with one if you feel able to—I think that kind of dedicated support would help you not only with your current predicament, but any other complications that might arise during the healing process.

That being said, there are two things that I personally think are worth considering:

1) Do you think covering your scars completely would help, or make the urges worse? It's possible that if your eye isn't drawn to them in the first place, they might be less triggering for you. If you're not already doing so, be sure to take good care of the skin in that area and think about whether wearing simple coverup makeup, super-lightweight tights/leggings, or even just slightly longer shorts (depending on where your scars are) might help reduce the effect your scars are having on you. If you try this, keep tabs on how you're feeling—if it makes your urges worse in any way, stop right away.

2) The other, more sustainable option (in fact, I would urge you to consider this even if you also try covering them up) is to work on managing your stress and managing your response to this trigger. Since you can't completely avoid your scars (or the fact that they've faded), the main thing is to work through your feelings about this and find ways to cope when the urges come on. I've written a few articles about this, hopefully you will find something useful in them:

https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/2/using-self-harm-urge-surfing-for-recovery
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/10/emotional-regulation-and-self-harm-recovery
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/5/alternatives-to-using-self-harm-to-regulate-emotions
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/self-harm-recovery-coping-skills-to-help-you-heal


I hope that helps. Feel free to reply here or comment elsewhere on the blog if you have more questions, concerns, etc. Take care.


Sincerely,
Kim
Kim Berkley
Hi Amara,

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad to hear you're getting professional support to help you through this, although I'm sorry you're still hurting. I understand about not wanting to disclose the truth about your scars, to your parents or to anyone else—although I do hope you and your doctor have discussed, and keep discussing, the topic of talking with your parents, because if you are ever able to, it might be more helpful (for you AND for them) than you think. That depends, of course, on your unique family situation, which I obviously don't know much about.

In the meantime, I'm not sure I can think of many options I haven't outlined in this post. I think makeup is still your best bet—it might take some practice, but there are lots of tutorials on YouTube and the internet that can help you get better at using it. Or temporary tattoos—I know it might sound random, but it could be a beautiful way to cover up if you think it would work in your situation. If your bracelets keep falling, maybe try arm cuffs or elastic armbands, for me those always stayed put better than regular bracelets.

I hope that helps. If you have more questions/concerns, I'm here.

Sincerely,
Kim
Kim Berkley
Hi Francesca,

Thank you for your comment. I wish I could give you a concrete answer to your question, but I am not a doctor, and everyone's body is different—I can't give you an exact timeline for when, or even if, your scars will heal and fade completely. If they are recent and shallow, it is likelier that they will heal and fade soon, possibly entirely. The longer you've had them, the lower the chance that they will completely go away on their own. The best thing you can do is to take good care of the skin in the affected area. Keep it clean, maybe use aloe gel or a lotion containing vitamin E, to encourage healing (just be sure you use a product that's safe for your skin type, and don't go overboard). Otherwise, it's somewhat up to nature whether they will fade or not.

You do have options for removing them in the future if you deem it necessary. In the meantime, if they don't fade in time, I've written a few pieces about hiding scars in the summer:

https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/hiding-self-harm-scars-in-swimsuit-season
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-the-summer

I hope those articles help, and I hope you and your scars begin healing soon. Let me know if you have any other questions/concerns/comments/etc. Take care.

Sincerely,
Kim
Lexie
My friends got self harm scars on her upper arm and wants to hide them from her family she can't wear sleeves or use any makeup any recommendations would really help