This is me. These are my scars.
My name is Maddi, I run this blog and these are my scars. I have a few very small scars from everyday sort of accidents, you know - the chickenpox I had when I was a kid, that time I smashed my head when I fell, that one door that opened over my foot… but the vast majority of my scars - all the ones you see here are from self-harm. Every single one has a story, but given that they were made years ago, I’m hardly going to remember each one! Instead, I’ll give you a bit of a broader picture…
I was officially diagnosed with clinical depression in December 2008 after a suicide attempt on my birthday, but I was self-harming long before that. It really began when I was about 11 or 12. I remember feeling constantly down, but when I described myself as depressed, everyone would tell me I was making a big deal out of nothing. It was just scratches at first, but it was a doorway into a discovery that causing myself physical pain, leaving marks on my skin, drawing blood - it gave me release.
What follows is a pretty ordinary story that anyone who’s struggled with depression and/or self harm will know - things got worse, I really found it difficult to stop, and recovery was a very long and painful process. Those few years, particularly when I was 13/14 were by far the darkest of my life. I self-harmed because I was depressed, and it gave me some emotional release; because I loathed myself so much I wanted me dead, I wanted to hurt myself because I felt like I deserved it; because I was addicted; because it helped, it made me feel better and worse all at once, but for a moment, there was some relief. Thanks to my devoted family, to a supportive community of friends, to an absolutely wonderful therapist, and to God, I pulled through.
There is no miracle in this story, only that I pulled though. I was sick and I got better. But, more importantly - I still have these scars. And you know what? I love my scars.
I actually have a genetic condition known as hyper-mobility, which affects the soft tissue, and amongst other more notable symptoms like easy bruising and persistent joint pain, it means that scars I form are lighter in tone and also softer than ordinary tissue… I’d always assumed that was how everyone’s scars form as I have so many of my own to examine, but apparently not!
It took me a long time to like my scars - at first I hated them. I hated them because I couldn’t hide them, and I was so afraid and sick of the constant questions. I wanted to shrink away into the ground and melt under their judgmental gazes. I didn’t want people to know what a terrible person I was.
But, after years of recovering, of getting to know myself, and really coming into my own I’ve not only come to accept them, but also embrace them. I don’t romanticize scars, and I’d never encourage self-harm. But this isn’t about fetishising scars, it’s about really embracing them, because they’re a part of you. They are my stories; I consider them to be my battle-scars. Because I was in a war; one against myself, inside my own mind, and these are the injuries I sustained. These are marks of my trials and they’re reminders that I survived. I made it.
Having scars has not changed me in the way the circumstances that gave me those scars has, but I’m glad I have them all the same. And you know what? I’ve had fun with them too. I’ve gleaned so much entertainment making up the most ridiculous story I can possible find when people ask about them - one particular tale includes a bakery accident where my flesh was torn off and inadvertently added to the bread mixtures…
I’m still working on what to say to my little brother who’s started asking, but I know the only thing I can do is be honest. Tell him what happened. Tell him why I have scars. And hope he never has to go through the same thing. Because they are nothing to be ashamed of, and the story they have to tell is a personal but also an important one.
(Huge thank you to my friend Katie Webb who did these photos for me)