You’re gonna carry that weight a long time…

I had my bloods done this week. I have blood taken most weeks. This time I had a new nurse. She asked about my scars (nicely). I replied self harm. She exhaled sympathetically and said ‘it certainly left its mark’. Ain’t that the truth.

There’s the obvious scars all over my skin. The toll on my body that you can read about in my medical records and the indelible marks on my mind. Then the more I thought about it the clearer I saw that self harm has permeated throughout my life. I have so many habits, rules & thoughts that all loop back to a time when I was routinely hurting myself. The depth of it is both a revelation and strikingly obvious. Which is confusing, so I’m just going to unpack it here. Someone once told me they read my writing because it’s the best way to work out what I’m actually thinking. That’s often why I write it. So, excuse me if I explore my insides with an audience.

There are seemingly trivial things that at first glance appear to be just casual preferences. I only buy dark bedsheets. All my bedding is black or red or purple. Sure, I like those colours, but really I switched to exclusively dark tones because you can’t get blood stains out of the lighter ones. You also can’t see the stains between washing. I realise how gross that sounds, but when you always have open wounds, your sheets are continuously bloody. You get used to it. Ditto all of the above for dark coloured jammies. Along similar lines is my constant manicure. I’ve always liked to paint my nails. However, I didn’t need to keep my nails painted at all times until cutting came along. If you didn’t know, it can be really hard to get blood out from under finger nails. You can scrub for hours and still see red. Covering the tell tale crimson tinge became routine. My love of shiny black polish on my toes has the same origins. My toes don’t see a lot of blood these days, but necessity has grown into habit. My cardigan collection also has secrets origins. I have a million cardigans, shrugs etc. Whenever I buy any outfit I immediately run through what cover up I could match with it. I don’t even keep my scars covered anymore, but I still find myself buying items to hide under. Again, precaution has become ingrained.

Bed

The tentacles extend further. Years of self harm has skewed my perspective on a number of things. For instance, if you accidentally injure yourself I am the best and worst person to ask for help. I’ll definitely give top notch wound care advice. I know what dressing you need and how to clean every gash. I’ll also almost always think you’re making a fuss of nothing. I’ll probably think you can manage without medical assistance unless your leg is hanging off. When you cry or complain about the pain, I will be outwardly kind, but inside, I think you should cowboy up. Your call an ambulance is my stick a plaster on it. I know I’m wrong, but that’s how my mind works. Furthermore any accidental injury that anyone ever tells me about will arouse my suspicion. Same deal for most scars. I spent years lying about cuts and breaks and burns. I have concocted excuses of every kind. No matter how plausible your story I will have a moments doubt. It’s no reflection on you. I know you didn’t do it to yourself. It’s just that I also know that people lie. I lied. To everyone. Repeatedly. Habitually. For a very long time. It warped my thought process. Oh and if I have an accident I spend a lot of time carefully crafting how I will explain it. My head’s first assumption is that everyone shares my doubts. I’m always scared that someone will think I’ve fallen off the recovery wagon. Logic kicks in and throws the crazy out, but there’s a delay.

Black toe nails & tattoos

I never answer the door in short sleeves. Everyone knows they can’t just drop by my house. In the past I didn’t know if myself or my home would be fit for visitors. The anxiety of unexpected guests lives on even if the pools of blood do not. My first aid tin is always extensively stocked. I still can’t go anywhere without a cover up. My days of hiding every scar are gone, but my brain needs to know I have the option.

Blood transfusion

Watching cinematic portrayals of gore annoys the hell out me. I know that slash wouldn’t produce so much blood. Blood doesn’t stay wet that long. Cutting your wrists is nowhere as easy as films would have you believe. Cold water and salt is how you remove a blood stain. Rotting blood smells a bit fishy. A troponin test will determine if you’re having an actual heart attack. Stitches in the stomach don’t really hurt, don’t bother with local. The body takes 4-6 weeks to replace the red cells when blood is lost. Drs will usually insist on an transfusion when haemoglobin drops below 7 g/dl. Learning the topology of Langer’s lines allows for cuts to be made in the correct direction to reduce scarring. Inadine patches will prevent infection. Anti bacterial gel stops scars from itching. Scalpel blades can be bought in art stores. Ice can burn. Arterial blood pulses. My brain clings to all of this and more. Information, dictums & routines that no longer serve purpose, but retain a hold. That nurse was more right than she could ever imagine. Yup, self harm leaves one hell of a mark.

I see your true colours shining through….

Today was one of those darling days when everything feels lovely. I spent the morning with a dear friend chatting & vigorously agreeing with each other. It’s an incredibly satisfying way to start the day. The afternoon was given over to bread baking, which filled my house with the most wonderful smell. By early evening I had applied some make up (including some wicked cat eye transfers) and set off to meet my sister in town. We were attending another pop up event at Hummingbird, Glasgow. It turned out her friend, Roz was accompanying her. I’ve heard so much about her; it was a pleasure to finally meet.

I’ve been to an event at Hummingbird before & I really love this venue. It’s a bar/club set out over three floors with lots of little individual rooms. It’s decorated with beautifully intricate wallpaper & sumptuous design features such as bottle green velvet walls. The pop up was comprised of both clothes & jewellery brands with a few tote bags thrown in for good measure. There were many gorgeous things to look at plus I got to meet a few bloggers that I really admire.

I was really taken with some of the pieces by angel pixie love. They have t shirts with adorable slogans such as, I love your face. I fell in love with a pair of amazing peacock print leggings. Unfortunately they only had small sizes available, but they did assure me they were looking into stocking a wider range. So, fingers crossed. In the mean time I picked up this card, I have the perfect recipient in mind.

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As I was feeling so chirpy I adorned myself with an array of vivid colours. I’ve always been partial to this limey green shade and have actually had this mini for quite a while, however I am reliably informed that it is big news this season. I paired the skirt with this clashing colour block top. It’s sheer, which is pretty daring for me. It also features pink, I am not a pink kind of girl, but this tone was intense enough to sway me. My cardi carries on the lime green, with its spots & stripes it is one my favourites. I slapped on my trusty Primark support leggings as the smooth tummy they provide gives me a nice wee confidence boost. I finished the whole look off with yet another colour in the form of these purple trainers. I’m aware all of these colours don’t necessarily go together. I’m probably breaking about a million fashion rules, but following the rules has never been my thing.

 

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Coat – Dorothy Perkins

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Cardigan – Per Una ( M&S )

Top – Monsoon

Skirt – H&M

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Leggings – Primark

Trainers – Primark

 

My amazing little sister blogs at Living in a boxx

 

True Colours Cyndi Lauper