My arms are beuatiful. The only major parts of my body mostly unscathed by the piling on of pounds from my battle against my brain. My thighs, arse, stomach, and chins (all four of them) are barely recognizable. My arms thankfully only picked up a little jiggle. Who thought a little jiggle would be something to celebrate.
There’s a little more to the love affair between me and my arms. They bear nine of my ten tattoos. Those nine were all brought into being within a two year period when my depression were in various stagest of severity – from bad to life-threatening. Some I love. We don’t speak of the others. The love of my arms extends to my scars. They are not indications of suicide attempts. More accurately as a relief mechanism. A lashing out at the world. At myself. Within them lies the fact that I didn’t care if I died. I didn’t actively want it. I just didn’t care.
Each line tells a story. There are the pathetic ones on my butterfly tattoo, on my inner left wrist. The tattoo contains a semi-colon (;) which is a symbol of life after suicidality. It was the one time I cut vertically. I knew this should result in more blood loss. I wanted to cut the bullshit symbol of me being okay. For some reason I couldn’t cut deeply at all. I had the same type of knife as always. I remember being so frustrated that I couldn’t cut more deeply. When the paramedics came I kept letting them know how pissed I was. There is one line on the right side of my burtterfly that becomes raised when pulled taut. It’s my favorite scar. When I rub it I feel calm. I think I only needed two or three scars sutured.
My left arm overall is a map of several attacks by me on my arm. Lines, most vertical, some off a little. Many, many small circular dots, each pair representing one suture. I love and hate looking at it. I have no problem showing it. No. Not showing it, just letting it be seen. If I am too warm I will wear short sleaves. When I finally am gainfully employed, I will wear long sleaves. I am not completely oblivious to social norms. Maybe I am. My social values and beliefs are much more relaxed than most. It is part of who I am. I will not hide them on a day to day basis. There are some cases I will. I am volunteering at my first grader’s Christmas party this week. I will wear long sleeves so the kids won’t see them. In most instances I don’t hide them from kids. I wouldn’t be able to walk down the street. At my sister’s wedding this year, I saw many of the kids in my family for the first time in a while. Not one of them noticed. I wore short sleeves the entire time. They’re just part of who I am.
My right arm bears the worst of the scars. Like my left arm there are plenty of them. Most are vertical, and most have the telltale signs of sutures. Unlike the left, several of the scars are very deep. These happened during my most severe cutting incident. I required 79 stitches between the two arms. Three of the cuts on my right arms would not close despite having been sutured. They bled for three days and eventually I required two pints of blood to be transfused. I poked and prodded at those three on the psych ward. I was so frustrated because although they bled, it was not significant. That event earned me 15 days in the hospital, roughly split equally between medicine and psych.
There is one scar on my belly and three on my inner thigh. They are there from disgust at my ever-growing body. There are not visible to anyone who doesn’t see me naked – pretty much the entire planet. Also my tummy is so fat I can no longer see the belly one without a mirror. My leg mobility is restricted so I can’t really see it either. In fact the both could be gone. I think I did them the night I couldn’t cut. I am realizing right now that I haven’t thought about those in months.
How I feel about my arms is my business and mine alone. So why do I share? Certainly not to ask permission to feel how I feel. To act how I act. Perhaps to try to explain to others why I feel as I do? To be better understood? To remind myself what I’ve been through? To flip off people who ‘know’ that depression is bullshit? Fuck them. I know my scars won’t change their minds, but maybe it will give me some satisfaction… Of course that is completely childish. Never mind the fact that a very small number of people notice my scars. Most are too busy with their own lives.
I suppose my feelings may change as time goes on. My scars will become less obvious too. I am not ashamed of them. They were simply part of my journey out of hell. I am close to the end of that journey. A good ending instead of what might have been. I think I will never complete it, but this end is much better than the other.