Monday 28 October 2019

Revealing my self-harm scars

Kristina discusses her experience with self-harm scars.
- Kristina W. 

When I came to university, like most people, my entire friendship circle changed. Just like that, I had a new crop of people to explain my self-harm scars to. My flatmates, the people on my course, new friends, even professors. Unless I was going to studiously wear long sleeves, no matter the weather; they were going to see my scars. With the seeing, would most likely come questions.

The anxiety over the appearance of self-harm scars is a strong deterrent when it comes to trying new things, dressing for the weather and getting close to people. There are generally a few choices when it comes to scars:

  • Cover with makeup (time-consuming and potentially messy)
  • Tattoo over them to disguise them (expensive, might not be possible depending on the extent of the scarring)
  • Topical treatments (which may or may not work)
  • Laser treatment and surgery (expensive and may end up causing more scars)
  • Accepting them (which is what I am trying to do)
I used clothes to cover mine day-to-day. Part of me was afraid of the conversations that would happen when people found out that I had scars. Another part of me feared the judgments that people would make about me because I had them.

I was able to keep them hidden while the weather was cold, but as it warmed up, the sweaters came off. Prepared to give my canned response to why I have the scars, I ventured forth. The responses I got, on the whole, surprised me.

Turned out, the people who cared about me were more concerned that whatever caused the scars weren’t a problem anymore and that I wasn’t in any danger of relapsing. I was lucky enough to not have had any overtly negative reactions to my scars. Although not everyone is that lucky, nobody is undeserving of happiness, friends, and relationships because they have scars.

Nobody should feel like they have to reveal their scars to anyone if they don’t want to. Some people actively conceal their scars and some don’t. There is no right way to go about it. Shame around having scars can negatively affect body image and self-esteem which can put the person with scars in a worse place. There are so many things that try and hold us back, but self-harm scars don’t need to be another one.
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties similar to these, more information and support can be found here. More information about self -harm can be found here.

Kristina W. spent a year as an international student at the University of Glasgow. Her experience changed the way she looked at her mental health for the better. She blogs about her student experience, money and career at

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