Scars and Stigma

I wrote yesterday about how so many of us suffer in silence, battling a darkness that only we can see. And I wrote about how that silence helps feed the horrible stigma that surrounds mental illness. Yet it isn’t just silence that makes it hard for us to open up about our struggles. Often, scars also get in the way.

We’ve all seen scars of injuries and surgeries. Sometimes they were unfortunate accidents, other times they were youthful indiscretions gone awry. Yet when it comes to the scars of mental health, they, like the illnesses that caused them, are often invisible to others.

I know I have scars. Scars caused by people leaving, by things people said, words and acts that feed the demons, reinforced their lies. Made them so much more believable. I battle to heal those scars to this day as I work to recover from my mental illness. And though some people have congratulated me for being transparent about my battle through this blog, I still have a long way to go. There are too many times I hurt myself or others by letting my scars, and the painful memories that go with them, keep me silent. And that isn’t fair to me, nor is it fair to the people in my life. And for that I am sorry. I know I need to do better.

For some, the scars of mental illness are not invisible. Self-harm or suicide attempts leave a physical sign for the world to see. And one of the truly incredible things that I’ve come across since opening up and connecting with others who battle similar demons is that some people have made beautiful tattoos around their scars. They have taken something painful, some that emotionally still keeps me shut-in, and turned it into amazing bits of art. And it is truly inspiring.

If you have scars or mental health tattoos that you feel comfortable sharing, I would love to put them on this site. Because those transformations are truly inspiring, at least to me. They are how I want to live my life. I want to be able to incorporate those scars into something beautiful, something that I can show the world instead of something that keeps me silent.

That is something I hope I can be better about. And I am sorry for letting it hold me back in the past. And I am thankful for all you, dear readers, who continue to follow me as I share these dark tales.

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