The Physical Scars

*TRIGGER WARNING* I’m talking about self-harm today, if you are in a sensitive place please stay safe. Skip this post if you need to!*

I have been ashamed of the physical scars that have been left behind from years of self-harm. Some are fainter than others but all are still reminders of miserable, painful moments in my life. Times where I fell to the bottom hoping I would bounce back up like a ball and not lay there on the ground like a rock.

Each scar was created out of desperation for relief from loneliness, suicidal thoughts and heartbreak. In those moments, cutting myself was what I thought would help me.

When I started hurting myself on my legs I got very nervous about wearing shorts and swim suits in the summertime. I worried that someone would see (whether that be a stranger or someone I know) what I had done to myself. Most of the time I never told anyone I had hurt myself, it was my little secret.

Showing my skin meant my secret was out for the world to see. It was kinda of terrifying.

This past summer I read a few perspectives of others who had a similar problem with scars on their bodies. Some of them said, you know it doesn’t matter, wear what you want and if somebody makes a comment then they’re the asshole. That was a good enough explanation for me so I wore shorts all summer.

I braved the world with my legs out and nobody said a damn thing to me.

If this is something you’re struggling with, if you feel super uncomfortable at the thought of people seeing your scars then cover them up for now. I hope that at some point you will be able to let your guard down and show the world your beautiful skin!

Stay strong! –Megan

Curbing Self-Harm Urges

When you’re in one of those intense waves of depression, it can be difficult to think clearly. I’ve struggled with this countless times, there were times where I thought the only way to calm down or feel better was to self-harm.

For seven years I’ve been faced with the decision on whether to cut or not. I have chosen to act on that desire more times than I will ever admit. They are scars I never want to count. Turning this into a positive, I’ve said no many more times than I have said yes.

Coping mechanisms and rational thinking have helped me through this tough journey. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Rubber Bands and Hair Ties

One of the first coping mechanisms I learned about was snapping a hair tie or rubber band wherever I wanted to hurt myself. This really hurts depending on how hard you snap it. It has helped me and of course there are no scars left afterwards which is a plus.

Find a Distraction

Finding something to take your mind off of the urge to self-harm, anything positive or makes you feel better. My most often technique is to play a video on YouTube that I can really pay attention to. I will watch very intently to push the desire to hurt myself back down into my brain.

Sometimes I’ll combine this with knitting, covering up with fuzzy blankets and dabbing essential oil on my wrists to engage more of my senses. I’ve learned the more senses I can engage, the easier it is to distract myself from my own thoughts.

Leave

Wherever you’re at try and leave that place even for a couple minutes to clear your mind. Go to a different part of your house/apartment, go to Target (that place has healing powers), walk around your block or sit in your bathroom for a moment. A change of scenery can sometimes put me in a different state of mind.

Think of Someone You Love

This can be a sensitive topic for someone with mental illness because so often we are told by our depression that there is nobody who loves us. My brain has screamed that at me for so many years that it can be difficult not to believe it.

Let’s push the possibility that depression is right out of the picture; there is someone who deeply cares for you. Think about that person before you hurt yourself. If that person was in the room with you, what would they say? If you showed them the marks, how would they respond?

One of the things that has helped me not resort to self-injury is thinking about my boyfriend. I know he doesn’t want me to do that to myself, it has brought him to tears seeing what I have done. So I think of that moment, I think of him because my actions don’t only affect me, they affect him too.

Well that last part got intense for me. I’m going to write a couple more posts about self-harm that I hope can be encouraging/relatable for anyone reading. I’ve been ashamed to tell anyone that I’ve cut myself on and off for 7 years but right now I feel brave enough to share my experience with others.

Stay strong and I hope you’ll all be alright! –Megan

Let’s Discuss Self-Harm

Self-harm is a topic, just like suicide, that a lot of people refrain from talking about. There’s a group of us who walk around every day with physical scars that we either embrace or try to hide. We can be in control for years, months, weeks, days or hours then fall victim to this habit.

I don’t want anybody to be triggered by this so if you are already feeling inclined to hurt yourself, just skip this post.

I started my journey of self-harm when I was 18 in my first semester of college. I felt completely alone starting school in a place where I knew almost no one in a town hours away from home. To help with the loneliness and depression, I would scratch myself. This escalated to cutting myself up and down my arms every day for around a month when my roommate was at work.

A friend, who I have lost touch with now, saw my cuts while we were out to dinner and kindly confronted me about it. He told me that he was there for me whenever I needed him, he kept that promise too.

I wish my journey would have ended there but I have continued to self harm on and off ever since. There has yet to be a full year that I have not hurt myself. Maybe in the future I will get to that point but right now I am 7 months clean.

It’s important to talk about self-harm and the many forms that it takes (cutting, burning, restricting food, etc.). Those of us that struggle with this habit can feel ashamed when what we really need is love and compassion. Having a support is nice to have whether you tell them that you are hurting yourself or not. Just having someone to love you and that you can talk to is really uplifting.

For me, it’s been very hard to completely quit hurting myself. In my next post I’m going to write up some of the tips that have helped me restrain myself from cutting. Here are a few posts that include tips about curbing suicidal thoughts.

If you’re struggling with self-harm, I understand your pain. I hope that you can make it through this challenging part of your life, you are stronger than you think you are!

–Megan

Oh the Guilt!

I hate feeling guilty and shameful. The other day I posted about guilt and right now, I’m having one of those moments where I feel so guilty that I want to curl into a ball so tightly that I disappear.

Have you ever felt that way?

It’s a cycle for me with guilt and mental illness. My anxiety will tell me that nobody loves me, that I’m stupid or that I’m a bother to everyone around me. Those thoughts are so loud in my head, it’s hard not to hear them. When I say them out loud or assume someone actually feels that way, I end up feeling guilty for saying my anxious thoughts out loud because it makes the person I said them to upset.

I say, “You don’t like spending time with me, do you?” Then that person gets frustrated, they’re blindsided by that comment and why I would say something like that in the first place. For me, that question makes sense because I have been hearing it for years.

My anxious statements make me immediately feel guilty. I tell myself that I’m a bad girlfriend/friend/sister/daughter, I’m a person that nobody wants to be around. I wish that I could vanish into a small space where nobody can find me. A place I can hide until the guilt subsides and I can breathe again.

I’m going through this right now so the emotions are really fresh. I feel ashamed when I let my anxiety speak because I know I should not let it have a voice. From my perspective, those anxious thoughts ring in my ears so loudly that I forget that nobody else can hear them. I forget that maybe what my mind tells me isn’t actually true.

What do you do when you’re feeling incredibly guilty about what your mental illness makes you do?

I hope that you guys will all be alright. –Megan

Guilt and Mental Illness

I seem to always feel guilty about stuff. Whenever I make a mistake or mess up in some kind of way, I am overcome with guilt and anxiety.

This happens on a weekly basis. I neglect to do something or I say the wrong thing, my stomach gets tight and my heart sinks to my feet. I lose focus on whatever was going on previously, the feeling of guilt starts to swirl around my head.

Recently I told my best friend from uni that I wouldn’t be going to her party where a bunch of our friends from school would be. Ones we haven’t seen in a long time. I said, no for many different reasons but I felt horribly guilty about it.

I felt like a bad friend even though she had been incredibly toxic to me. I felt like an ass for telling my friends who I haven’t seen in 3 years that I wouldn’t be there, like they didn’t matter to me which isn’t true.

I’m a professional at ruminating on negative thoughts. If you are too, I see you. So for days I thought those things over and over until my stomach began hurting.

Anxiety and depression love to team up and remind me how nobody likes me, I’m a terrible person and all of the shit they’ve said to me since I was a child. Do I believe them? There’s a part of me that really does. Then there’s another that says, “Well Megan, maybe that’s not 100% true.”

Today is the day of her party and I’m writing this blog post from the comfort of my bed. I’m feel a little guilty still though if I’m going to be honest. Instead of ruminating on the guilt, I’ve been enjoying my time off doing whatever I feel like. I’ve let the day take me wherever it may lead, it’s pretty awesome!

So if you’re feeling guilty too, I understand where you’re coming from. If possible try to relax or distract yourself with a coping mechanism. Do something that makes you happy even if you don’t think “you deserve to feel happy.”

Stay strong, my readers! — Megan

Feeling Understood

In my last post, I wrote about how difficult it can be to feel misunderstood when you confide in somebody about your mental health situation. It’s painful. I found it difficult to open up to others because of how many people could not understand depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or self harm.

But sometimes people do understand! That is the best feeling when you tell somebody what’s really going on and they don’t call you weird or crazy. Even if they don’t understand what it’s like to experience a mental illness, they are still there as a support system.

Oddly I found support in a former coworker. She knew I had been sad but did not know the extent of my suffering until we had dinner together one night. We were having a delicious Mexican dinner to get us through the final hours of our shifts in the newsroom. I’m not sure how it came up but I told her that I was going to go on antidepressants so she asked if I thought that was the best choice. I told her yes because my depression is severe. Then I said it, “I want to kill myself.”

Tears were streaming down my red cheeks as the waitress is asking if our checks were together or separate. I couldn’t believe I showed my heart to her. What amazed me was that she didn’t run away or stop speaking to me after I confessed that to her. She was the best person to have in my life at that point in time besides my therapist.

We took walks together, we had a sleepover once and I even called her when I could not get my suicidal thoughts to shut up. We talked about random things so I could calm down so I could go to sleep.

I’m so appreciative of her as a friend. We don’t see each other very often anymore since I have a different job now but I look back on those memories and am thankful for all of the times we had together.

I hope you, my lovely reader, have somebody who is there for you. If not, maybe it’s time to try and open up to a safe person in your life.

Stay strong survivors! -Megan

Silencing Suicidal Thoughts

In my last few posts, I’ve been focusing on my journey with struggling with suicidal thoughts. This one I want to make a bit more happy and talk about ways that have helped me to silence those thoughts.

**Just because these things have worked for me does not guarantee they will work for you. This is to give you ideas of what could be helpful for you. We are all different with unique likes and needs.**

Aromatherapy

I never really liked smelly things, they usually gave me a headache. During my time at rock bottom, I was willing to try almost anything to feel better. My therapist suggested essential oils to soothe me when I was anxious or having suicidal thoughts. I went to the health food store and picked up lavender (to help me sleep), peppermint (to relax me when I was anxious) and tangerine (boost my mood).

This shit changed my life! The aromas somehow really helped to calm me down and bring me back to the present moment instead of stuck inside my head. I also became a frequent customer at Bath and Body Works, I got lots of scented body washes to make showering less scary and miserable.

Makeup

Ok ok you’re probably judging me right now but yes, makeup was my escape. I don’t know how it happened but I started watching beauty videos on YouTube, it let me go to a happy place where I didn’t have to worry about anything. I watched video after video after video to silence my thoughts.

A special shoutout to YouTubers KathleenLights, Glam Life Guru and Emilynoel89 for creating amazing content!

Maybe makeup isn’t your thing but finding some sort of hobby can be helpful. Watching those videos lead me to buy makeup and use my face as a canvas for art. I love expressing myself through makeup! To give me something to do, I started an IG  @megandoesmakeupxo.

Harry Potter

I have loved Harry Potter since I was in third grade when my teacher read my class “The Sorcerer’s Stone.” He did different voices for each character!

That book series has the power to pick me up and transport me far away from my day to day problems. When I got depressed in my third year of college I picked up the first book at a used bookstore in Old City Philadelphia.

Those books are still my escape. In the world of Harry Potter I am safe and will always feel safe in that realm even though it isn’t real. When my suicidal thoughts would not shut up, I opened my book and dove in.

I hope some of these things gave you inspiration to help with your suicidal thoughts! Find safe spaces (whether they’re IRL, online or in your head) where you can find solitude from your thoughts. Leave a comment below with your tips on silencing suicidal thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Until next time, survivors! –Megan