SKIN DEEP

self harm word chart

I decided to write about something quite personal and close to my heart. It is a sensitive subject for many people who suffer  or struggle with mental health issues. I realise that everyone will have different thoughts and feelings about this topic. However, I am speaking here of my own thoughts and emotions now, as a woman over forty-five years old, discovering I have very mixed feelings about this topic now, as I look back.

I’m talking about scars. A lot of people have scars – all sorts – scars from operations, from injuries, as a result of criminal acts, because of medical conditions and no doubt, many other reasons that I haven’t mentioned here. I am talking about ‘self-inflicted’ scars caused by self-harm. Self-harm can take many forms; in my case, they took the form of cutting, burning etc, severe and chronic anorexia, many over-the-counter drug overdoses and quite a few addictions over the years I was ill.

In my opinion, the public’s view of ‘self-inflicted‘ injury is often inaccurate. Yes, I was in control of my actions (sic) but those actions were not the underlying reason for my self-injurious behaviour. I was often unfairly labelled by hospitals as a self-harmer/attention seeker which wasn’t the case. In most instances (as with a huge majority of cases), I was carrying out actions which were mainly caused as the result of having serious abuse inflicted on me over a long period  but the person or people who ought to have been held accountable for my trauma never were, and rarely are.

I’m not going to discuss any further detail about the whys and wherefores of my self-damaging behaviours which became a way of life for very many years. I am now speaking of the present and the future. Currently, as a mature woman, I  very frequently find myself feeling awkward or embarrassed because I have many old and quite unsightly scars all the way up both arms. It is summer again and we’ve had some hot, sunny days and this always creates a dilemma about whether to wear long sleeves or not.

That isn’t because I carry endless shame or guilt about my scars – to me, they are evidence that I survived an extremely dysfunctional and seriously traumatic childhood which also continued into some years of my adulthood. However, I do find, as a mature woman, that it is unusual to see such scars on somebody of my age and that people often do notice this and sometimes I feel stared at for a little too long than to be comfortable. Occasionally, I have had the experience of being the subject of a shared snigger between two people who obviously have no understanding of mental health or are just appear ignorant when pointing and exclaiming. “ugh or eww – what have you done to your arms?”

I do find there are many situations where I feel I have to cover up with (simply to spare other people’s own fear and embarrassment). There are some instances where I, myself, would feel uncomfortable, misunderstood or perhaps even judged, such as in the company of some older people, going to an interview, family gatherings (such as weddings) where those gathered are fairly distant relatives who don’t know much, if anything, about the truth of my past and even in my church, strangely enough (perhaps it’s because I’ve not at this church during a summer before).

I also find that  a few of my  Carers, particularly when they first start working with me, don’t quite know what to say, especially if they are helping me shower and dress when my scars are painfully obvious. I usually put them out of their misery by talking about it openly rather than attempting to hide it rather uncomfortably behind the shower screen.

I’m aware that this post has ended up rather longer than I first intended it to but as you can see, it is something that I feel passionately about. I am very happy to chat with any readers who want to understand a little more, or perhaps share their own experiences with me if they have been affected in a similar way and are feeling alone or isolated. You can find my email address at the top of the page in the ‘Contact me‘ section.

Thank you to all those who are continually there for me x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAKE LOVE ~NOT WAR

Image result for Love and Destruction

A few parts of this post are taken from one of my previous post, last year, with some new additions, adjustments and amendments. It includes a poem (below) that I’d like to share with you. written by a friend, Katie. Some of you might have already read parts of it but for those of you who haven’t, I hope it touches you as it did me.

I don’t claim to be an expert or even a particularly knowledgeable person when it comes to the subject of Planet Earth. I failed geography and history, abysmally at school. However, I do care about what we are doing to our world and beyond. I care about all the people who have suffered and lost their lives, those who are still suffering and those who will suffer in the future whether it be by natural causes, illness, disasters, war, violence, poverty or by any other means.

I care that we are destroying our planet; destroying our population; destroying our people, wildlife, and nature. I care that we are ravaged by war and violence; that we are polluting our planet and the atmosphere. I care that a huge number of people are homeless, roaming the streets, roaming the deserts, the plains, the forests and the wilderness. I could continue further, but many of us know the facts already.

A very close friend of mine, Katie, wrote this very moving poem which I wanted to share with you here….

The winds of Mother Nature are blowing on the Earth
Accepting all we’ve done to her since our sweet sacred birth.
There are babies curled in cradles unaware of hate and crime
Dreaming of their Mummies in the loving hands of Time.
Forgive us sweetest Mother for the ways that we’ve grown old
For independent streaks in us that turned our hearts too cold.
We’ve sinned so much we’re hurting and the pain is plain to see
That first we were so innocent on a gentle, rocking knee.
How love could turn to awful hate and safety turn to terror
Is based it seems on single thoughts that have their root in error.
Behind us and in front of us is such an awesome Love
That would have us in its gentlest hold in time with God above.
If only we could fall down flat and beg to stop the violence
Our hearts might cry sincerely out, then rest in hallowed silence.                                    

©Katie Marsh 2015

The recent and past atrocities have really brought home to me just how fragile our lives are. If only the power of love could overcome the power of war then maybe, just maybe we could experience peace in our time. Perhaps it would be a start

I am scared for all our futures; I’m scared for our children’s futures, our grandchildren’s futures and all future generations after that, if by then there is still a habitable planet to live on. The list goes on and on … and on … and on … and on … until infinity …

MAKE LOVE ~ NOT WAR.

.gif - power of love - power of war

THE CROSSING

road crossing before

(Before)

Harvey was killed in July of 2008. He would have been almost 18 years old now. This young boy was the son of my daughter’s work colleague. He died, crossing a busy road where the traffic moved far too fast and there was no safe place to cross. Hundreds of flowers and messages were left at the foot a tree nearby the spot he was killed. That tree is now called ‘Harvey’s tree’ by the locals. 

The young lad wasn’t the first person to die on that stretch of the road. A van hit an elderly man who was with his dog, some years before that, and there had been several accidents causing various non-fatal injuries. Numerous minor incidents and near misses had also occurred over the years. 

Following Harvey’s tragic death, a group of us got together to form a campaign to fight for traffic safety measures to be put in place. We organised a petition of all the local homes, shops, businesses and doctor’s surgery to present to the local council, asking for a zebra-crossing to be put in place. Nearly everyone supported us. A few of those that didn’t were very plainly more concerned with getting to work or home in a hurry regardless of the consequences.

The council considered our application, not carefully enough, I thought and after eighteen months, they turned it down due to financial constraints. The number of people from the original group gradually started to dwindle until eventually, there were only four of us left. We continued to fight, this time with the help of the local press who came and took photos of the fast-moving traffic there, with us four plus a small crowd of schoolchildren and parents standing nearby. The article was on page two of the paper and at least got people talking about the situation again. We appealed to the council again but were turned away once again.

After that, we enlisted the help of our local radio’s presenters who broadcast the plea to the county. We were beginning to look like we had a chance. We petitioned the officials at County Hall again. This time, they said they would consider new safety measures and then proceeded to dig part of the road up to install chicanes on either side. When done, this did slow the cars and vans but long queues built up on either side. Not a great success so back to the drawing-board.

We pleaded for our zebra-crossing. It was vital to the safety of adults and children alike, all of whom took their life in their hands every time made their way to school, to work, to the shops, etc. If it hadn’t had been illegal, we would have been sorely tempted to creep out to the danger-spot and paint the stripes on the road ourselves. Meanwhile, another school summer holiday came. Gradually, we saw that roadwork signs were being erected along the pavement.

Digging commenced. After, three weeks, the appearance of the beginning of speed-humps was noted. We queried this, to be informed that this indeed was the new safety measure and that there was no intention of installing a pedestrian crossing! At this point, we thought we were going to have to admit defeat in a minor way, but we had to agree that the road was safer, also thanks to the addition of the double-yellow line down the middle of the road. Now, six months down the line, and there hasn’t been a single accident and barely a near miss. Finally, we have safe passage for all pedestrians and cyclists across that road and far fewer collisions between cars and other vehicles too.

It is so tragic that it took the loss of the lives of a young boy and previously, an elderly man before anyone would to listen to local people and take action on this obviously dangerous stretch of road. Harvey B. RIP.

speed humps and sign

(After)

 

THE ART OF HUGGING

cute monkeys hugging

Hugging – have you seriously thought about hugging? It has multiple benefits, and we should all be doing more of it. If we were, half the wars and battles wouldn’t be taking place, and thank the Lord that no-one has invented an anti-hugging vaccination. Hugs are much more life-preserving and also far more pleasant than coming down with a nasty case of chickenpox or the flu.

Did you know that you need at least one hug a day for reassurance, two a day for survival, four for maintenance and eight for growth? This fact would explain why I am reasonably ‘happy little bunny’ still breathing, in reasonable ‘nick’ but only two-feet-and-eight-inches tall.

If anyone would like to contribute to another few inches of height, I wouldn’t object or turn you away.

Hugging is environmentally friendly and ecologically sound. It builds self-esteem and also builds strong arm and shoulder muscles both of which are far less costly than building another new block of apartments and therefore, is economically viable.

It slows down aging which probably means I’ll feel like I’m ninety-seven before I reach sixty given that I live alone and don’t have a handy partner or nearby children.

However, I do hug the odd friend, (as I tend to prefer my friends to be a little on the peculiar side, like myself rather than conventionally rational).

I have to confess that I have a rather unusual habit in that I have been, on the odd occasion, known to approach and embrace a complete stranger. Hugging in those circumstances is sometimes okay, especially when it is to offer comfort or solace.

However, there are times such as when it’s with the bus driver en route or a waiter with a full tray of tea and scones which are not a wise idea. Also, cuddling up with the airplane pilot of a Jumbo Jet in mid-flight, or offering an embrace with Her Majesty, The Queen in the middle of giving her Christmas speech, etc., it can be seen as somewhat inappropriate.

Hugging also releases the feel-good hormone, oxytocin that is nature’s anti-depressant, so if they were readily available, we would have a lot more warm and happy people about and a lot less diazepam/valium needed.

A first rate hug ideally needs to have two elements, a hugger, and a huggee, preferably willing participants and not someone like ‘The Incredible Hulk’ squeezing the life out of a reluctant Miniature Chihuahua. Likewise, a hug needs to be shared between two beings, or more if near to hand as clutching thin air is no better than attempting to embrace a boa-constrictor.

At this point, I should say that I am offering free demonstrations. In addition, all contributions to myself will be gratefully received as I am saving up for my Blue-Peter badge.

healing hugs