Thinking about fatness and self-injury and mental health.

Thinking about fatness and self-injury and mental health.

Con­tent note: talk of self-injury, body image, and sex­u­al assault.

I read some­thing recent­ly, I don’t remem­ber where or I would link to it, about how peo­ple sug­gest non-scar­ring ways to self-injure not because they’re less harm­ful for the per­son who’s self-injur­ing but because then oth­ers don’t have to look at the scars and be uncom­fort­able.

There’s a few ways that peo­ple respond when you have self-injury scars. (Or also, in my expe­ri­ence, when you talk about being fat rather than being a qui­et fat­tie, or talk about your depres­sion and flash­backs rather than keep­ing them qui­et.)

Some of them avoid look­ing at you, duck­ing their heads and mum­bling or going qui­et. They don’t know what to say, but to me it also feels like they’re embar­rassed by me and want me to stop talk­ing, change the sub­ject to some­thing hap­pi­er.

Some of them look at you with this bizarre mix of revul­sion and pity that often makes my words freeze in my throat and my arms uncon­scious­ly wrap around my body to insu­late it from their gaze.

And some are angry, though they rarely say so. It’s like you can see the words they’re bit­ing back. Self­ish. Atten­tion-seek­ing. Mak­ing it all up. Get over your­self.

Most of my self-injury was the “good” kind that didn’t leave marks for peo­ple to see. Punch­ing and scratch­ing, then mak­ing sure to wear pants and long enough sleeves to hide the very tem­po­rary scars. The worst scar I gave myself final­ly dis­ap­peared some­time in the past year, after 12 long years. I near­ly choked with pan­ic when I real­ized that. I’m not sure why.

Some­times I want to talk about how inse­cure I am with my body, with the way my stom­ach bulges over every pair of pants that I own and looks grotesque in a dress (at least it seems that way to me, still social­ized to find fat revolt­ing and evil despite its amoral­i­ty). Some­times I want to talk about the mem­o­ries that come flood­ing back some nights and some days while sleep­ing or hav­ing sex or even just work­ing, to talk out how grow­ing my hair out ter­ri­fies me because one attack­er in col­lege loved it so much or how there are nor­mal things I can’t do because they trig­ger the worst of mem­o­ries. Some­times I want to talk about how I’m 27 years old, and peo­ple have been telling me that my depres­sion and sui­ci­dal wish­es and dis­or­dered eat­ing and weight prob­lems and anx­i­ety were just a teenaged phase ever since I was 12 years old but none of them have gone away.

I can write about all of this, and clear­ly I do. But some­times I just need to say it. With­out peo­ple avoid­ing my gaze, or star­ing back with hard­ened angry eyes, or look­ing at me like I’m a drown­ing pup­py. I don’t want to talk about it all the time. I don’t always want to go into lots of detail.

But…I just want to be seen.

(Typ­i­cal dis­claimer that I’m actu­al­ly real­ly okay, today’s been a decent day, and I’m actu­al­ly about to go play Mario Kart and enjoy hav­ing a bit of an evening. These are just thoughts I’ve been hav­ing.)

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