See those scars on my chest? The circular ones, big and small? I have those all over my chest, back, arms, neck, face and legs. I’m covered in hundreds of them. And for the longest time, I hid my body because of them. All of my junior year of high school, I wore long sleeves no matter what the temperature was, in order to cover up my scars and open cuts.
My doctor says theres a name for what these scars are from, and thats Dermatillomania, or compulsive skin picking. I pick at my skin when I’m anxious, stressed, bored, upset, angry, or feeling any sort of intense emotion. It’s unconscious sometimes, deliberate others. Sometimes I am compelled to tear at my skin no matter what anyone says, like theres a voice in my head yelling at me to do it. Other times, I do it as a form of self harm, taking something sharp to my skin and picking at it. Always, though, it leaves scars, ones that I was so ashamed of.
My father accused me of being on meth. I’ve had people grab my arms and gasp in shock and ask me what happened. People stared at my scars and cuts while talking to me instead of my face. I was so, so self-conscious. I thought by looking at me, everyone could tell how emotionally messed up I was on the inside, like my scars displayed my issues for everyone to see. It terrified me.
And then I decided I didn’t care anymore. I was sick of wearing long-sleeves in 90 degree weather. I was sick of hiding under bulky sweaters and crying over my appearance. I got help for my anxiety, which helped with the picking, and I embraced my scars. I may have hundreds of them, but they are mine. It is my skin, and I don’t care how scarred I am. I believe everyone is beautiful, scars and all, and I shouldn’t be the exception to that rule. So I’m honest now. I have an anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder, and compulsive and self-harming tendancies that have left me scarred, emotionally and physically. And thats okay. The people who matter love me regardless, and if someone cares about the marks on my skin, then they aren’t worth knowing. I don’t love everything about myself yet, but my skin in no longer a source of shame. I love my scars.