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To Sam

Self-harm scars and summer

Hi. I've covered my arms for the past four years because of bad scarring. I haven't worn short sleeves even around my family, who kind of know i SH but don't talk about it. I've missed school because I have nothing to wear when the weather is warm.

How can I be more confident about my scars? Should I warn my family that I might start wearing short sleeves in the house? What should I say to people who question why I'm wearing long sleeves and if i do build up the confidence to wear short sleeves, how should I answer if someone asks about the scars?


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for telling me about what’s on your mind.

You seem like you’ve been trying to cope with a lot. It sounds like your scars have stopped you from feeling able to wear short sleeves. I can hear that you’re looking for ways to feel comfortable about showing your arms again. It seems like you’re worried about other people’s feelings and they might react. 

It seems like you’re thinking a lot about other people and what they need but I’m wondering about what feels right for you. You don’t have to cover up if you’d prefer to wear short sleeves. At the same time you don’t have to tell people personal information about yourself unless you feel comfortable with them knowing. It’s up to you who you share it with. It’s okay to let people know that your reasons for doing something are private.

Building up your confidence can take time. It can help to imagine yourself in the situation and think about what would make it feel a little bit easier for you. Some people find it useful to say positive things to themselves (also called affirmations), for instance saying “I have the right to wear short sleeves and I haven’t done anything wrong” or “I deserve respect and I can choose who I talk to about personal things.”

I can’t give you a definite answer about what to tell people because it’s important that you choose what feels right for you. What you tell them depends on what you’d like people to know. This might change depending on who asks the question and who else is around at the time. You don’t have to hide your self-harming from people. 

It doesn’t seem as though you talk to your family about self-harming but I’m wondering what you think it’d be like to speak to them about this. You could write a letter to them if that feels better for you. You sound as though you’re having a really hard time and it’s important for you to have support. If you’re not sure about talking to your family, perhaps you could choose a trusted friend to share this with so that you’re not taking this step on your own. ChildLine is always there for you as well and you can get in touch to speak to one of our counsellors any time, either on a 1-2-1 chat, by email, or by calling 0800 1111.

It takes a lot of courage to share how you feel and it’s great that you felt able to write about this.

I hope you get the help you need.

Take care,

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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