I have 102 scars on my body. One hundred and two scars that are visible to the naked eye. One night I sat down in the shower and I counted each and every red, pink and white line that I put on my own body by my own hands. Some have faded with time so they’re harder to see so I probably missed a few. But as of now, I have 102 scars on my body.
I guess I took Tyler Durden a little too literally when he said, “I don’t want to die without any scars.”
I’ve got you covered, buddy.
My name is Marki Beth and I suffer from self-injurious tendencies.
I said it.
I have *finally* openly said it. I have hinted and tip toed around it for years but I have never in my life admitted it publicly.
And do you want to know why?
Because I’ve been embarrassed. I’ve been ashamed. I didn’t want people to know that I did something as horrific as cutting myself. And I didn’t want anyone to think I wanted attention.
That’s a huge stigma with self harm; that it is attention seeking and it infuriates me.
It infuriates me because it prevents people from seeking help because they’re afraid of what people might think, myself included.
It’s an awful feeling being constantly worried about what people think of you when it comes to your mental health. Not only are you battling your own thoughts and feelings but you make things worse for yourself by worrying about everyone else’s thoughts and feelings.
To say someone who suffers from depression is selfish is the biggest sack of shit I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. Because 90% of the time I’m worrying about how my feelings and the way I handle them are going to affect the people I love. If I cry too much, my friends will get annoyed. If they see the cuts on my arms, my family will be mad at me.
Most of the time, I’m being ridiculous. I know my friends and family want to help me and they’re not going to be annoyed or mad if I ask for help, but you have got to remember I’m not in my right mind. When I’m there, in that dark moment, I can only picture the worst case scenario which borders on paranoia.
This is a topic that is so relevant that it scares me. And I’m sure if you knew, it would scare you too. You would be literally amazed if you knew how many people actually suffer from self harm. I mean, it blows my mind.
If someone notices one of my scars and asks me about them and I trust them enough to confide in them, it’s shocking as to how many people say, “I’ve been there, too.” I’ve even had people show me their scars and we’ll compare them like some sick and twisted stamp collection. We’re a part of a bloody club that is nearly impossible to get out of. We’ve signed our contract in blood and there are no refunds.
I don’t know how I got here. I really don’t. Ever since I was a kid, I always told myself that I would never in my life do this to myself because I saw what it did to someone very close to me. We’ll call her Marie.
Every time Marie went into the bathroom, she was in there for hours. She would go in and leave with fresh blood on her hands. I knew what she was doing. It was impossible for her to hide. I used to sit outside the bathroom and wait for her to come out. Sometimes I would yell and beg her to stop, but as an eight year old, there wasn’t much I could do to persuade her. For the most part, I would just sit outside the bathroom with my fingers poking underneath the door, letting her know that she wasn’t alone. I told myself I would never end up like her because I never wanted to make anyone feel the way she made me feel when she hurt herself.
As I grew up, I realized it wasn’t about me. It was never about me. She didn’t hurt herself to hurt me, she did it to make herself feel better. How selfish was I to think it had anything to do with me? She had pain so deep inside her that she did the only thing she thought made sense.
When Marie found out that I cut myself, she was devastated. She blamed herself. She thought that I had gotten the idea from her which couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’re cut from the same cloth. We experience the same intensity of emotions and coping skills. If anything, I am grateful to her because I know I have someone who truly understands what I go through.
Today is Self Injury Awareness Day, which is why I’ve decided to put myself out there because thousands of people around the world share their stories on this day in order to provide information and support to those who just aren’t ready to get the help they need and deserve. I have avoided it for years but I finally feel like it’s time for me to join them in sharing my story. Every story is different. Every single person has a different reason behind why they do it, but regardless of the reasons, every story is important and has value just as every person who self injures is important and has value.
I’m sitting here at my computer screen and I’m legitimately struggling with how to describe to you all this experience. And I’m finding myself rewriting every sentence I type because I’m still worried with what people might think.
Am I going to sound crazy? Am I going to sound stupid?
But the truth is, society has already deemed me crazy. So crazy to the point where I have deemed myself crazy. I’m the first to tell someone I’m crazy and I don’t say it because I think it’s true. I say it to let everyone know that I’m aware of what they think of me. That way no one can use my mental health against me.
Maybe I’m just a shitty writer or maybe I’m just not fully ready to let you all completely in, but I don’t know how to describe to you the first time I was so afraid of losing too much blood that I screamed my sister’s name. I don’t know how to tell you how it felt to lay on the bathroom floor while she went through two rags trying to clean up the blood off of the floor while my mother sat in the other room, completely unaware.
I’ll never find the right words to describe my college roommate grabbing me by the wrists screaming at me to tell her where I kept my razor blades and refusing to give them up to the point of her turning my entire dorm upside down in search of them. The feeling of absolute terror when she finally found them and threw them in the dumpster outside. She deliberately avoided the trash can inside our dorm because she knew I would fish them out of the garbage.
It’s impossible to let you know how embarrassing it was to have someone watch me as I showered because I couldn’t be trusted with the simple task of shaving my legs. How terrified and eventually proud of myself I was when I handed a police officer my stash of razor blades and he held my hand as he took me to get the help I wasn’t strong enough to ask for.
There are over 1,000,000 words in the English language and I will never be able to find the perfect ones to tell you what it feels like to cut into your own skin and not feel a single thing. The only proof that you’re still living and breathing is the puddle of blackened red by your ankles.
Hopefully one day I’ll figure out a way to say these things because if not, my book is going to suffer greatly…
Self harm is an addiction. It’s an obsession. It’s all you think about. It’s all you need. It invades your thoughts and quite literally your body. Recovering is difficult, sometimes seeming impossible. And just when you think you’ve gotten better, you slip up and you do it once and then the next thing you know you’re right back on the bathroom floor watching your sister push your skin back together with her fingers.
Recovery is day by day. It’s not something that can happen over night. Self harm is something that crosses my mind every time I get upset or overwhelmed. And honestly, sometimes I convince myself that it doesn’t matter at this point. My body is covered in 102 scars…a few more won’t make much of a difference.
But I pull myself out of it on most days and I have friends and family that help me more than they’ll ever know.
A sixteen year old girl came into my work last night and her arms were covered in cuts and scars. I wanted to grab her, hold her close and tell her it’s going to be okay because we’re in this together. I wanted to tell her it’s not worth the aftermath. It’s not worth the explanations. I wanted her to know that I can’t wear shorts in public without someone staring at my legs. I wanted her to know that any time a guy runs his hand up and down my arms, he asks me what happened. No one wants to date the crazy girl. I wanted her to know that it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. But I didn’t because I know how it feels to have someone point out my scars in public. It’s mortifying. It’s humiliating. And worst of all, it’s triggering. So I just kept a smile on my face, made her laugh as much as I could, and hope that I at least made her forget about hurting herself for an hour. Her and her friends actually ended up drawing me pictures on their napkins and wrote me notes about how much they liked me and I have it posted in my room. They’ll never know how much I saw myself in them and how much it scared me.
It breaks my heart to know there are so many people in this world that feel/have felt the way I feel. It seriously hurts. Sometimes I get on anonymous chat sites, like Omegle, and I’ll type in the common interest Self Harm or Depression. I’ve had conversations with 12 year olds that are cutting themselves on a daily basis. Twelve years old. Ignore the fact that I’m 21 and talking to 12 year olds on the internet and focus on the fact that there are twelve year olds and younger who feel like they don’t have any other options. And I want to help them. But I’m 21 years old and I still struggle with it. So they inspire me to be better.
It’s Self Injury Awareness Day and I have made you all more aware of self harm in some way. I hope you think before you speak. I hope you hold your tongue when you’re about to make a joke about someone hurting themselves for attention. I hope you think twice about pointing someone’s scars out in front of other people. I hope you understand where I’m coming from.
And I hope if you’re like me that you know you’re not alone. In any way. Ever. Because now you know of at least one person that has been there and understands what it feels like to feel nothing at all. And I hope you know that I’m never too busy to talk about this stuff. Now if you want to talk about something fucking dumb like how you think feminism is pointless or how One Direction isn’t amazing then you can *fuck off*.
No but seriously. I’m assuming that if you’re reading this post that means you have more than likely read my other posts. And I hope that this one leaves the biggest impression on you. I hope you think about this when you fall asleep. I hope you wake up and want to hug someone close to you. I hope you feel bad if you’ve ever made a joke or embarrassed someone about their body. I hope you change. I hope you’ve learned.
I hope I hope I hope.
I want to thank you all for being there for me. If you’re reading this, you’re there for me. You’re there by giving me an outlet and opportunity to talk about things that have been eating me up for years. Things that truly matter to me. Thank you for giving me a voice.
This has been an exceptionally heavy weight that has been slightly lifted off of my shoulders. I now feel a little more comfortable in my own slightly battered skin. I’m one step closer to being able to go to the pool in my bathing suit and not have to tell my friends that a dog attacked me.
I know some of you will look at me differently and that’s okay because I’m looking at me differently too. I’m finally beginning to look at my body and see healing and strength rather than guilt and shame. It’s day by day and I’m finally looking forward.
Also, if you ever need someone and I’m unavailable to be there for you, here is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1 (800) 273-TALK
which offers counseling and other valuable information in regards to self harm.
I’m going to leave you all with one of my favorite quotes from my favorite book, Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky which has saved my life more than once:
“Please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough. And I will believe the same about you.”
See ya, crybabies.