Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
What part of your body is most affected by it?
When I look back on the twenty-two years that I’ve been self-harming, I realise that the body parts most affected have changed as I’ve grown older. As a young teenager I would focus my self-harm almost exclusively on my legs (mainly upper thighs) as I could easily hide the cuts with my school trousers and jeans.
But as I grew older – into my late teens and early twenties – I tended to focus my self-harm on my arms, back and buttocks (the latter two being achieved through self-flagellation with a belt). As it had been when I was young teenager, this was primarily so I could hide the marks from the prying eyes of other people but also because I had become concerned over the scars on my legs and felt I needed to assault a different part of my body in order to give them a ‘chance to heal’.
After my breakdown in 2007 – one of the wildest periods of self-harm in my life – no part of my body was immune to being self-harmed; legs (both upper and lower), feet, arms, chest, stomach, back, buttocks…everything had some degree of injury upon it. Even eternally visible parts of my body (such as my hands and head) were adorned with the clear cuts of self-harm meaning that, for the first time in my life, other people could clearly see what I was doing to myself. But at this point in time I no longer cared. My mind had disintegrated and other people knowing I self-harmed was the last thing I had to worry about.
When I was homeless it was my arms and hands that bore the full brunt of my self-harming, mainly because they were the easiest parts of my body to access whilst living in the various parks and alleys that were my ‘home’ during this period.
But now I am more secure in my living arrangements, I have come full circle and tend to focus my self-harm exclusively on my legs as it is easier to hide the marks from other people (given I never wear shorts) and taps into the memories of my early days of self-harm and the emotional release I used to receive way back when.