When the Scars Fade

*Potential Trigger Warning: in this post we talk about self-harm scars, so be advised there might be a potential trigger in this post.*


Wanna know how I got these scars?  Who am I kidding, you already know how I got them.  What matters to me right now, though, is that they’re here.  That’s what I want to talk to you about.  My scars.

It's hard to hide your story when it's written all over your body.Scars can be both physical or emotional.  We all know what physical scars look like.  I have two near the bottom of my stomach from where I had hernias as a baby.  Other people have other scars, it’s just part of the fragility of our bodies.  Traumatic events can leave memories, anxieties and fears on your mind that can be thought of like scars.  Again, just part of our fragility.

As you might expect, I now have plenty of marks and half-healed wounds from my struggle.  In Pills and Blades, I told you about my self-harming journey.  My depression, as with a number of other people, has manifested itself in this way.  It’s a way of giving me several types of release but it also leaves behind a physical mark, almost like a badge of my struggle.  You can check out more about self-harm in our series About Self-Harm.  For now, though, let’s focus on those scars.

A Comfort and An Antagonist

It’s odd, isn’t it, how you can think of those physical marks as both comforting yet antagonistic at the same time.  It’s something that might not make sense to a lot of people.  You cut yourself, the cut starts to heal, the cut then starts to leave a mark…and you take comfort in that.  Why?  It’s not a good thing, really.  Self-destruction is never perceived as good.  So where is the comfort?

In Pills and Blades I list three reasons why I self-harm:

  1. Self-hatred
  2. A way of feeling
  3. A distraction technique

In a nutshell, that’s what it comes down to.  So if it’s a reminder of my self-hatred, if it’s a way of feeling and a distraction technique, why would I be finding comfort from it?

My scars are fading and I feel lost without them.

The simple truth, as I mention later on in our series About Self-Harm, is that they provide me with some form of evidence that I’m struggling.  Call it a badge of achievement, in perhaps a rather twisted sense of the concept.  It’s a marker that tells me my struggle is real, that it’s not all imagined in my head and that I genuinely have a problem.  For that reason, they are a comfort for me.

At the same time they are antagonistic.  They are a reminder of the battles that I’ve lost with my head.  Scars like these carry with them guilt and shame as well.  You cover them up so people won’t see, so the stigma won’t be attached to you.  If you talk about them, it’s only with a few people, people you trust.  You see…sometimes the scars are our biggest enemy as well as our best friend.

Especially when they fade…

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When They Fade

In my mind, there is nothing worse than when the scars start to fade.  Those physical reminders that your struggle is real, those comforting marks of evidence are beginning to disappear.  Suddenly the struggle is back inside your head with no outward sign that things are not OK.  You find you have to begin convincing yourself all over again that your struggle is real.

The scars start to fade and the urge to bring them back becomes stronger and stronger.

When my scars start to fade, my urge to bring them back starts to grow.  It’s a vicious cycle of cut, scar, scars fade, miss them so cut again.  You’re trapped in that never-ending circle, unable to get yourself out.  You look down at your scars and find the overwhelming urge to reopen every single one of them, to watch the blood run down your arm, leg, stomach or wherever you cut.

Then comes the guilt.


The guilt is the hardest part.  You’re getting there, your medication is working.  The fact that your scars are fading suggests that you haven’t cut in a while.  Surely that means you’re doing well, right?  So why would you want to reopen them?  Won’t that put you back several steps?

Sadly, it will.  Everyone is happy that you’re making progress, everyone is pleased that you’re not cutting at the moment and so the guilt overwhelms you.  As you pick that blade up again, you feel that colossal weight of shame but at the same time you feel the release as you renew those scars on your skin.  Silver turns white to red and you feel as though you have your evidence again.

For a moment you’re at peace.

Then it starts all over again.

Just because the scars started to fade…

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Author: Alex Davies

Alex Davies is the creator and writer for Pushing Back the Shadows. Find out more about his journey here and connect with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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