Sun, sea, and self harm scars (part 2)

Hello again folks,

Long time no post, yet again. I can’t seem to keep myself in a routine at the minute. Graduation through my mood completely out of whack but here we are! Back with the second part of my tips on how to cover up in the hot weather without actually melting into a fleshy puddle.

As I said in my previous post, scars from self-harm affect so many of us. Whether we have scratches, scalds, or stitched up cuts, the act of showing them is a personal choice.

I am a huge advocate for being transparent when it comes to mental health, however many of us choose to hide the history we have on our skin.

DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way intended to be body-shaming. You can wear anything you feel comfortable with, no matter how your skin looks, your shape, height, or size. These are simply suggestions I use for myself to help cover-up and stay cool.

Skirts

Midi Skirts

Calf-length skirt - Dark blue/Patterned - Ladies | H&M GB 1

Image Source: H&M, 2018.

Midi skirts are fantastic for summer. You can find them in most charity shops for under £10 (I once found one for £2.50!) and they keep your upper thigh covered. This one here is from H&M for £19.99.

Skirts this length can be found in a range of different styles, like pencil skirts and body-con so it’s super easy to tailor this tip to your own style. However, I find that the floaty type like the one pictured above is the most summery, and is typically my favourite style to go for when I’m trying to cover scars and stretch marks on my thighs.

These skirts are wonderful. You can dress them up or down, depending on the occasion. They don’t raise questions, as they are often worn in summer anyway. You can guarantee if you wear jeans someone will crack the old,

Aren’t you hot in that?

Yeah, I bloody well am hot in these jeans, but that’s none of your business!

 

Maxi skirts

Image source: Boohoo, 2018

Another life-saver in this weather is the maxi skirt. Obviously I’ve chosen to display this black jersey skirt from Boohoo because I’m still an emo kid at heart, but again you could find an alternative for cheap in Primark or a charity shop.

These are great if you have insecurities about your calves and aren’t ready to show them off just yet. They’re elegant and perfect for whatever occasion. Going somewhere fancy? Pair it with a fitted crop top. Heading to the shop? Sling on a t-shirt and tuck it in.

The added bonus of these skirts is the control you have. If you’re sitting in the garden at a sunny barbecue, you can keep your legs covered up. Then if you find yourself alone for a few minutes you can take the opportunity to get your legs out and show them the sun.

Tips:

Being a short-arse

Are you like me and 5 foot nothing and find maxi skirts drag on the floor?

Maxi skirts with an elasticated waist can be rolled over at the waist band without looking weird. If you fold it towards you it can take the skirt up a couple of inches.

Alternatively you could pair it with some platform shoes, sandals, or boots, depending on your style and where you’re walking that day.

https://images.asos-media.com/products/raid-wide-fit-alma-black-flatform-ankle-tie-sandals/9335894-1-blacksuede?$XL$?$XXL$&wid=300&fmt=jpeg&qlt=80,0&op_sharpen=0&resMode=sharp2&op_usm=1,0.4,6,1&iccEmbed=0&printRes=72

Image source: Asos, 2018

These RAID “flatform” sandals from Asos are an example of a flat but raised shoe – far easier to walk in than traditional heels. I’ve seen some similar in Primark which were about a third of the price of these, which are currently being sold at £29.99.

“Chub rub”

I know many of you will hate the phrase “chub rub.” Some of you lucky devils might not even know what it means.

This is a rash that occurs when there is friction between your thighs as they rub while you walk. It can be incredibly painful, and often deters people from wearing skirts at all.

That being said, there are two tricks you can try which I have found to be particularly helpful.

1. Roll-on antiperspirant

I’m no scientist so I can’t explain to you how this works, but for the past two years I have been using this trick to help combat my thighs from chafing when I wear skirts.

It doesn’t feel very flattering to be rolling moist deodorant on your inner thighs, but I believe it reduces sweating and also acts as a protective layer to reduce the friction of skin-on-skin. Roll-on deodorants are fairly cheap and usually small so they’re easy to carry about with you so you can reapply in the loos later if you feel the effects wearing off.

2. Cycling shorts

For some people, the deodorant trick simply doesn’t work. An alternative to this is to wear form-fitting shorts underneath your skirt to prevent chafing.

Image source: Sports Direct, 2018

These LA Gear body-con shorts from Sports Direct are really cheap, costing only £4.

Can’t afford to buy something extra? You could instead cut up a pear of tights or old leggings to just above the knee. Though this is not an ideal solution, nor one I’ve tried myself, it seems to be an effective way to tide you over until you’re able to buy some actual body-con shorts.

Trousers

Although I previously mentioned in this post about how jeans can raise the ridiculous “Aren’t you hot in that?” question, wide-legged or light weight trousers are a good choice in hot weather. They keep you covered, but are far more breathable than jeans.

These outlandish but amazing trousers from Zara are a prime example of the style of trousers I wear when it’s boiling outside.

Though these may not be something you usually go for, wide-legged trousers like these are currently in fashion, and are unlikely to make you feel as uncomfortable as jeans or leggings would.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel quite ready to wear something so wide legged, or are self-conscious about them being too long for you, harem pants are a great alternative.

Harem pants - Black/Floral - Ladies | H&M GB 1

Image source: H&M, 2018

These floral harem pants from H&M retail at £12.99. Wearing them feels like pyjamas. They’re thin, airy, and comfortable. You are also able to roll them up to your knees should you want to, so they look like cut-offs. This is great if you only want to cover your calves some of the time.

Tops

Finally, we come to the thing that is my biggest difficulty in summer. Tops.

Most of the tops I own are band t-shirts from when I was younger and in my prime emo years. These are no good in 30°C heat. First off, they’re black. Secondly, they do not cover my scarred up arms that I don’t always want to have out on display.

So if you’re like me and vest tops and t-shirts are a no-go for you in summer, here are a couple of suggestions that I have found useful.

Crop tops and bardots

Long sleeved crop tops and bardot tops are both beautiful and covering.

Image source: New Look, 2018

This cropped bardot top from New Look would look excellent paired with a long skirt or high-waisted trousers. Plus, the tight sleeves on these is great as it means you won’t have the awkward moment where your sleeve accidentally rolls down and your scars are on show to the bartender in Spoons who you weren’t quite ready to reveal your life story to.

I know that often because it is marketed as a crop-top and usually models who wear these have flat stomachs and defined abs, people are often uncomfortable about wearing these or even trying them on.

If you have a muffin-top like me, a sad belly button, stretch marks, scars, whatever, you can hoist your skirt right up to where the bottom of the top is as if it were a dress.

There is NO SHAME in having these things. I absolutely am not body shaming. However, I do understand than not everyone is ready to show these parts of themselves that they may be self-conscious about.

Blouses

The market is rife with thin, baggy shirts at the minute. Especially longer shirts.

Image source: New Look, 2018

This beautiful pale green shirt from New Look retails at £14.99 (but you can usually get 10% discount on non-sale items if you have your university student card with you in store). It would look gorgeous paired with skinny fit shorts, whether they’re mini or knee-length.

You could also tuck it in to some chino-style trousers, or a midi skirt for a smarter or more formal look. Alternatively, you could wear the shirt unbuttoned over a cami-top, however this causes me anxiety as I’m often worried someone will tell me to take the shirt off because they think I’m too hot.

Remember:

You do not owe anyone an explanation.

It is your choice if you want to show your scars, and if you don’t want to, you do not have to justify that because someone is asking questions.

Stay safe. Keep hydrated. Autumn will be here before we know it.

All the best,

Rowan x

 


GIF sources:

BPD Meltdowns: An update on my health

Hi guys.

I’m sorry I’ve been on hiatus with no real explanation.

Over the past week I have been having a serious borderline episode. For me, this means that all of the emotions I am usually able to deal with using DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) techniques are stronger than usual, so the techniques I use don’t work out so well.

For example, I’ve been having hypomanic episodes some days, which means I’ve been getting significantly less sleep which has messed up my sleeping pattern. Under normal circumstances I would take my emergency zopiclone to help me, but these shouldn’t be taken with alcohol and usually by the time I’ve remembered I have them I’ve started drinking.

Anyway. This post is just an update to say I’m not gone.

I’ll still be here, coming back in the next week or so with new content for you.

This weekend was particularly intense as some difficult things happened within my family life that triggered a BPD meltdown.

BPD meltdowns happen (in my case, at least) when you become so consumed and overwhelmed by emotion that the rational parts of my brain shut down.

The rationalising techniques taught in therapy, like finding distractions, like films or crafts, or self-soothing, such as having a hot drink or a bath, are no longer effective.

During my meltdowns, I am incapable of stopping crying.

My brain goes a mile a minute thinking about why I am worthless, why I should be ashamed of who I am, and how I don’t deserve to be alive any more.

Eventually it passes. Honestly, the most effective thing to help a BPD meltdown is time.

Be patient with yourself. Call a friend. Call your therapist. Call Samaritans on 116 123116 123 (UK and ROI).

I understand that you might not want to. In that situation you probably feel like you don’t deserve any kind of love and support. Regardless of whether you deserve it, I promise you that there are people in your life who want to support you. They want to help. Let them.

And please, if it is an emergency call 999 or visit your nearest A&E.

These emotions are temporary.

In the mean time, if you’re reading this, here are some BPD related memes I’ve found on the Internet that might provide the relief of making you smile.

Trauma - BPD Meme Queen

(Source: alrightanakin)

Impulsive - BPD Meme Queen

(Source: http://donnie–barko.tumblr.com/)

Danger - BPD Meme Queen

(Source: BPD Meme Queen)

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(Source: Rey_Z)

30743279_2142936935755276_8309023213782827008_n

(Source: unknown)

IMG-20171129-WA0003

(Source: Sarah Anderson)

Okay lovely people, that’s all from me tonight.

Take care of yourselves,

Rowan.

Living the Dream: what it’s like to dissociate

BhKvfqYCIAAbR5X.jpg large
(Image: Me, when I’m dissociating)

Do you remember those games you’d play in primary school?

Where you’d cup your hands in a ball shape and your friend would place their hands around yours, pushing your hands with their palms, and you’d push back against them?

Then after a while, they’d take their hands away and you felt like there was an invisible ball between your hands that you could stretch and manipulate?

Weird feeling, wasn’t it?

For me, that’s what derealising feels like around my entire body.

Derealising is a form of dissociation that, in short, makes you feel like the world around you is not real.

This past week I’ve been experiencing some intense dissociation. Chances are, if you’re here reading this you have some idea of what ‘dissociation’ is, or maybe you’ve heard of it before.

If not, a generalised summary of dissociation is the feeling of disconnect from the world around you. To varying degrees of severity, it affects your cognitive function (so, like, your memory, concentration, feeling of identity) and is generally thought to be caused by significant stress, trauma, or as a side effect from medication. That’s dissociation in brief, anyway. It presents itself in a lot of different forms which you can read more about on the Mind website.

You don’t have to have been diagnosed with a specific dissociative disorder to experience dissociation, though. Personally, I experience it as a side effect of my PTSD and social anxiety disorder.

It isn’t until later in life I realised I’d been dealing with derealisation and something else called depersonalisation for the majority of my teenage years. Depersonalisation is, pretty much, the feeling that you are not real, and feeling disconnected from your own self.

I’d walk around school feeling as if I’d left my body. I looked at my hands, and they felt unreal. I looked at my friends and my surroundings and felt like I was looking through dream fog. As if my alarm clock was about to ring and I’d wake up somewhere else sweating, with a massive sleep headache from being dead to the world.

It always terrified me, and now it makes me exhausted all the time.

What prompted me to write about this is that yesterday I had one of the most severe episodes of dissociation I’ve had since my ~Official Breakdown~ in 2015/2016 when I was having total blackouts and psychosis but that’s another story for another time.

So I was walking around town on the hunt for a specific item of clothing and saw GAP, a place I have never set foot in in my life.

I wandered in, a conspiracy podcast soothing my little ears through headphones, and immediately I was over-sensitised. The bright LED lights, the walls and walls of clothing and unclear layout. I closed my eyes for a second, then tried to focus on the things I could see. Typically, a good grounding technique if you’re dissociating is to list five things for each sensation you’re experiencing.

It was the simultaneous experience of seeing everything so vividly whilst also feeling like I’d been knocked outside my own head and the door back inside had been locked.

Okay, I thought. Let’s just have a quick look around and see what we can find.

Walking further into the store, I felt like I’d been winded by sensory overload. I started to black out.

It felt as if I were looking out from a glass box that someone was drawing the curtains over.

Usually I catch the dissociation before it gets that far, but this time I honestly couldn’t see from the anxiety and the overwhelming sense of being unreal.

So I left and decided to get to a place I recognised. I walked into another store I know and love but the same thing happened. Once again, my vision started to fade and I couldn’t make sense of the words my podcast was saying.

It was at this point I left the shopping centre and went to wait outside for my friend as we’d planned to spend the day together. She eventually turned up and was amazing at drawing me out of that glass box I was looking through. We went for milkshakes and some retail therapy which I found manageable with her. Yet for some reason my broken brain couldn’t handle it on my own, when usually I love shopping alone. Weird!

If you guys are interested in learning more about dissociation, I’ve listed some links below to documentaries or films that have informed my understanding of myself.

‘Diaries of a Broken Mind’ – A BBC Three documentary about Dissociative Identity Disorder

‘Numb’ – A 2007 film with Matthew Perry, about a man who experiences dissociation as a side effect of smoking weed. I honestly don’t know how often this happens to people but the representation of how some people cope with dissociative disorders and how difficult they can be to diagnose is pretty great.

Dodie is a singer and musician who lives with derealisation and she explains how she experiences dissociation concisely in the video I’ve linked.

I do hope you’re all doing well. I’d be interested to hear how you guys experience dissociation in the comments. It’s always useful to help me further my understanding of how other people experience the world.

Love and hugs,

Rowan.