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seaneen_molloy

Living with the scars, and accepting them.

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I haven't self harmed in 3 years but I have severe scarring on my arm. It is not ignorable, it is very noticeable. Even after all these years, some are bright purple.

I have studiously kept my arms covered for half my life. In the summer I wear long sleeves and itch and burn, at home I don't even take my top off.

I'm currently a nursing student and my next placement is medical (I'm a mental health student, usually we don't wear uniforms). On this placement I will have to wear short sleeves. This is the biggest horror I can think of facing, unless someone throws a dog into the mix.

I spoke to my tutor about it, and although she is going to arrange a long sleeved top (I will still have to pull my sleeves up) and speak to the ward, her advice, like everyone elses', has been that I need to accept myself. That my body is a bit different, and that's okay, and the scars are marks I have survived, not that I am weak or mad or etc.

I find this so hard to believe and to accept. I know I need to face it, I know I need to accept it. I'm getting married in August and I'm going to roast in my long sleeves and it makes me feel very sad.

I am trying. I have a habit of wearing a big coat at all times (I had body dysmorphic disorder and this is a hangover from those days when I used to cover as much of myself as possible and always have a hat and coat) but in the past few days I've been taking it off. I've been trying to roll my sleeves up, too, to the elbow, to get used to it.

Does anyone hear wear their sleeves up? How do you cope with comments? Was there a time that, like me, you couldn't wear them up and if so, what changed?

Thank you. x

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I used to wear long sleeves all the time, and one day i said f it. It was 90 and i wanted to be comfortable. So i just position my arms in different ways keep it close to my body, try to make it as unnoticeable as I can and I wear short sleeves all the time. My scars are all at different angles, and if anyone sees them to ask, i make up stories of volunteering with animals, extreme gardening and what not. Most people don't really pay attention that closely to me to notice the scars, and i've found unless someone brings it up about themselves I don't notice their scars.theirs always the option of using a powder foundation to lighten it up, or trying to rub vitamin e on the scars, alot of mine have lightened up over the years of vitamin e and i think sun exposure

i figure if my scars don't give away i'm a tad out there then my behaviour will at somepoint.i've just given up on caring what people think. It's my body, my struggle, so sorry if my personal pain offends you is my theory

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i still have a lot on my lower arms, it has really been messing me up on looking for a job. i have to wear long sleeves or try to cover up with foundation, always drape a coat over my arm, etc. i do whatever i can not to make it noticeable. i can't wait until they fade out. i've been using vitamin e obsessively.

it's always hard to have people staring at your arms. if they are not in a position of authority, i will usually say something smartass. and if they actually ask about the scars, i reply "i did it myself. and if you're asking, you probably already knew that." with a half-smile. (mine are kind of uniformly spaced and perfectly parallel. kind of obvious.)

i'm sorry you have to deal with this too. i hope everything goes well in your placement. your tutor sounds really cool about things.

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I haven't got to the stage of getting over and living with my scars yet, so I usually hide it with a rather suspicious looking bandage and long sleeves. Recently I did buy some concealer that's supposedly strong enough to cover tattoos, and it works like a charm. My scars bring back so many memories and feelings that I don't really feel ready to accept them and move on; it hinders me and I get triggered easily which only makes things worse for me. I understand entirely about the issues with long sleeves in summer; I usually bake in my school jumper or big cardigans because I'm too ashamed of what others will think of me. I hope your tutor can provide you with a solution, and I hope your placement goes well too!

Edited by Cherriichan

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I too live in long sleeves. I have a lot of irregular shaped scabs/scars ranging from angry red to scarred/raised pink from skin picking. I've mostly stopped the skin picking on my arms (which bother me the most) so now it's just a case of waiting for them to heal and fade a bit.

As a temporary measure could you wear a light, long sleeved top under your scrub/medical top? It's good that your tutor is being helpful and accepting about it. I also think that most of the staff/students who would see your scars would know the difference between recent cuts and year old scars, so they won't be worried about your current mental health, and might understand/empathise with you previously having dealt with SI. They might even be interested to find out how you managed to survive and get past SI, in order to help their patients...who knows.

It's different if it's a patient or someone who you might only be seeing briefly, they don't need to know the ins and outs of your scars even if they see them. Perhaps you could use a generic excuse like 'I fell through a glass sliding door' or 'unfortunate pub brawl' or whatever. I sometimes tell people mine are burns (if they are large, roundish scars) or cat/dog scratch/bite if smaller marks.

Depending on their injury/illness/disability etc,..they might even feel more at ease dealing with someone who also knows what it's like to be stared at or judged or be in pain. It can be really hard going to the hospital especially if you think doctors/nurses are judging you and thinking 'why didn't you come in sooner or no wonder you have heart problems, look at the size of you'...I've noticed that the best doctors/nurses are the ones who haven't forgotten what it feels like to be a patient.

Good luck with it all, and with the upcoming wedding...long sleeves or not, I'm sure you will look gorgeous!

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I have the same problem - old scars on my arms, and working on a hospital ward with a Bare Below the Elbow rule. The majority of my patients don't even notice - they're ill, they're in pain, they're not focussed on your arms. One or two have commented, but it's never been a problem.

The most important thing is that you can accept them yourself, that will show when other people look at them. See if you can keep them uncovered when you're alone, just getting used to the idea of them being on show, maybe wear your sleeves up when you go supermarket shopping or something like that.

I really hope it goes well for you.

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i once had my blood drawn by a nurse in short sleeves, with obvious SI scars on her left arm. But the thing is, they were only that obvious very close up and I'm more susceptible to notice, having my own scars. How often to people focus on other peoples' arms? I wear short sleeves a lot now (though never sleeveless, my shoulders havent faded quite enough yet for me to be comfortable) and though there are still scars there, nobody has ever asked about them or obviously noticed. I do tend to position my forearm away from peoples' line of vision but I've found that once you start getting used to it, you feel much less self-conscious every day. Its also important to remember, you're hyper-aware of your own scars, they always look worse to you because you know they are there and you want them not to be. I've asked a few close friends and they have assured me that my scars are less visible than i think they are.

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Guest Vapourware

I used to be quite self-conscious about scars. I've been lucky because the scars have faded over time, and there weren't that large so I could say something vague like, "My dog scratched me" and be okay.

I guess it's ultimately an issue of comfort and utility about how you dress and disguise your scars. Although if you have prominent scarring, then you also have to be prepared for questions by people.

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