Tag Archive | scars

what you don’t know

  1. RA and fibromyalgia changes a person. living with chronic pain does that to you. it makes me embittered and disillusioned with life and the healthcare system.
  2. Chronic pain means that i carry a pouch of medications in my bag always. Painkillers that go up the spectrum in its strength. Topical painkillers. Anti-emetics in case the painkillers make me nauseated. Anxiety also means i carry with me benzodiazepines (usually clonazepam). Without this pouch when i’m out, i’m practically nothing.
  3. RA is an autoimmune disorder, and it can only be managed (put nicely, put in remission), never cured. And there was nothing i did to induce such a chronic and debilitating disease. Mine started when i was merely 1 years old.
  4. Fibromyalgia is a legitimate illness. It is not a diagnosis placed on a person if a doctor can’t figure out what a patient is going through (i.e. garbage diagnosis). No my pain is not psychosomatic. No my pain is not because i’m doing everything wrongly (posture, ergonomics at school/work, the way i sleep etc), No i’m not lazy, i’m just perpetually exhausted/fatigued despite the amount of sleep/naps i get.
  5. I don’t find excuses because of my illnesses. I try my best even through the pain and the exhaustion. Heck it even takes courage to admit that i am giving something up, or if i have to say no, when i feel my disease involvement is really being tested and exacerbated.
  6. i have chronic depression, and it happened (and still persists) not because i was weak. it started in 2010 because i gave too much of a damn about something- something that i was passionate about, and was good at, that pride took over. at that point my eating disorder was in full swing for a year already, and it didn’t help with the stress and pressure i faced.
  7. i fight. and i don’t stop fighting. i fought to finishing nursing school, and fought to finish it well. i fought at and for work as a nurse. i gave up my career as a nurse because undue pressure and sanctions were placed on me just to validate my license. it triggered me everytime i had to go down to board’s office to submit the letter from my psychiatrist.
  8. the people who are in the caring profession are the very people who perpetuate the stigma of mental illnesses. this was something i could never understand.
  9. i’ve lived in hospitals- medical and psychiatric- for a total of nearly 3 years. it takes courage to go in, to admit that i need help. it is not attention-seeking behaviour. and to be honest, all these time in hospitals are the ones that kept me alive.
  10. and yes, as much as it seems the opposite, i am fighting to live. i subjected myself to 63 sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT- in layman terms, electric currents that runs through the head), because i struggle with chronic suicidality. if i seem forgetful, this is why. amnesia is the primary side effect of ECTs.
  11. i’ve been labelled as the “worst case” my psychiatrist has seen, “the most difficult patient” my psychiatrist has had. 70 over sessions with my psychologist yielded almost no effect on my mental health. so pardon me if i think i am a hopeless case.
  12. people have asked it, and implore you not to ask it nor even think about it, why i am “still like that”. do you actually think any sane person (yes i am very much sane) would want any of this bullshit? if i can have it my way, i want nothing of this.
  13. i am always fighting to manage my conditions, and that includes working towards recovery. sometimes i am able to muster the strength to stay relatively well (usually from extrinsic motivations). but it doesn’t mean that i’ve done it before, that it cann be replicated. circumstances are always different. and not reaching recovery doesn’t mean i am weak. it means i’m still fighting. whether it is me managing my symptoms because that seems to be more important at that time, or whether it is me fighting my demons because it feels like i’m well enough to work towards recovery.
  14. i am always seeing doctors, and again this is not attention-seeking. i see a rheumatologist, a pain specialist, a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist (who’s also a psychiatrist), with the occasional visit to a gastroenterologist, a nephrologist, a neurologist etc. i am for the record, not the healthiest person around, and no i did nothing to deserve anything that warrants these visits.

  15. when i cancel on you, it does not mean i’m not keeping my end of my promise. it usually means i’m exhausted through and through, either from the disease process of RA, fibro, or even depression. or it means my mood has plunged, and/or i am crippled with anxiety that i can’t leave the house.
  16. when you see me smiling and laughing, talking (sometimes loudly), walking with normal strides with my head held up, 99% of the time it is a facade you see. this facade is quite true to my old self. and it takes immense energy to keep the facade up.
  17. when you see me turn a little quieter, becoming more reserved and isolated, head down, and walking a little slower, it means the energy that’s keeping up my facade has run out. it means you are seeing a more genuine side of me, and honestly, i’m not fun to be with once this occurs. it can dampen the spirits of everyone, and i don’t mean to do that.
  18. i am easily triggered. when i see images or hear about things like suicide, means to kill oneself (like ropes, pills etc), and all, i immediately withdraw. it can mean that self-harm will come later, but that’s just the way i am. i am extremely sensitive.
  19. when i bare my arms to you, it means i trust you enough not to judge me. i am not proud of my scars. but i don’t want to tie it so much to shame as well.
  20. it’ll be difficult to accept me because of the way i butcher myself. but i always hope people can understand that self-harm is my way of coping, of self-regulating. it’s just like how people turn to alcohol, drugs and ciggs. and if you have questions, i really don’t mind being asked, as long as it is done tastefully.

it’s difficult for people, and even my doctors, to see how pain is inevitably intertwined with depression. everyday is a battle for me. i start off my day downing anti-depressants and a cocktail of pain medications. it’s a judgement call to make, for how much pain medications i need to start my day. a painful day makes for a very moody and/or angsty day. on the other hand, there is no happy pill. when i’m anxious, i pop a clonazepam, but it doesn’t make it go away totally. sadness, despair, distress and worry usually accompany anxiety. and if i can, i lie down, hide under a blanket, an try to sleep it off. if i’m out, i try with all my might to get home to do precisely that- hide and sleep. the worst is when my mind decides that my life is not worth living. there is no anti-suicidality pill. there is only self-injury and ECTs. i don’t hurt myself for the sake of it. ironically i hurt myself to stave off the suicidality (at least when i’m not inpatient), and it does help. it’s difficult to believe it, but it really does help. it helps me to at least live till tomorrow. and sometimes that’s all that is important right?

everyday is still a day of self-discovery, of learning who i am and what i am. everyday is a chance to be stronger, more resilient, more accepting, and a chance to desire living instead of dying.

my friend from my community described me as a fighter, as do many others, in different ways and words. i constantly deny them, because depression tells me everything otherwise. but for the past few days, i’ve thought about it. if i hadn’t fought, even as a child with undiagnosed juvenile RA, would i be here? if i hadn’t fought through the pain even as it progressed into adulthood, and then also fighting with fibro, would i be here? if i hadn’t fought with depression and bulimia, would i even still exist? it answers it all.

lastly, without my faith in God, i am nothing. He was the one who carried me through all these years, giving me the strength and courage when there was none to go on. He carried my crosses (which are my burdens and struggles) with me, and never left me even when i turned the other cheek. what can i say? God is good. God is Love!!!

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still. -Exodus 14:14


the hearts of people are…

“Wah! Singapore so cold ah!”

He was referring to my thick fleece hoodie, my kind anaesthetist. I needed to remove it for him to inject my shoulders. After the “shock” i gave him in the Operating Theatre, i wondered how i should reply him. With jest? Or with seriousness. My deliberation caused me to hem and haw. And i finally managed to croak softly:

” Well, my scars…”

“Oh…” Came his reply.

In my mind going back to think and to regret what i’ve said, as i always do, i wanted to say something different that would reflect the opposite of his initial question.

Singapore isn’t cold. But the hearts of people are.

As some of you might well know, i’ve covered up my arms since falling into depression. “fat, and scarred”. Those are my reasons. Simple as that. People stare and they whisper. When i’m in a more intimate place like my work place and someone catches eye of it, a huge hoohah is made of it, as if it was something to be proud of. My social worker, J, always tell me that people stare not because they’re out to ridicule me. They stare at my scars out of curiosity. People gasp loudly and ask, because again they’re curious, and also because they care? Afterall, it’s not a norm, an arm sleeved by keloid scars. Can’t they be more discreet though, i’d always ask myself.

When i don’t like it, i avoid it. Anyone could tell me, including psychiatrists and all, to take no shame in it. That i shouldn’t be ashamed of it. But can i? I try to face it. There are inner demons too. It’s easy to talk. And to think that just simply saying something will make it any less of a struggle? It doesn’t work that way.

Right now, i’m just angry with myself. I’ve had my piece.




love will heal

i hope i did not frighten anybody putting a photo of my scars.

i did not put it up to ‘show it off’ to say, you know, “look this is how hurt i am!”, or that “this is how much i can do!”. that would be extremely insulting and disrespectful to myself and the people around me who are suffering as well.

i put it up to open up my shell, slowly but surely. start it off online first, then perhaps one day in real life.

this is the UGLY reality of someone who’s been to hell and back. this is the unspoken truth that nobody sees or talks about.

i sometimes call them my battlescars. but have i really fought a war? i wonder. for now, i can only muster the courage to tell people that i was “very sick”. or if i find myself a little humorous that day, i’ll just say that i went to fight a war.

perhaps it will take years of healing within, despite my exterior has already healed. i’ve had superficial scars, laceration scars, burn scars, stitch scars, word scars, keloidal scars, and i have scars upon scars. they say scars themselves are weaker than skin. are they? and some scars from which wounds which were very bad that are numb now. they don’t feel touch anymore.

i don’t know.

i guess, like i said in one of my posts, when daggers come my way, love heals yes. but haemostasis takes time. the latter is done. the former has to begin.

love will heal, Steph.

my scars, exposed



“Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that replace normal skin after injury. A scar results from the biological process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process.”

“Scar tissue is composed of the same protein (collagen) as the tissue that it replaces, but (…) this collagen scar tissue alignment is usually of inferior functional quality to the normal collagen randomised alignment.”


This is my left arm in its entirety. The one i hide in sleeves. Go ahead, readers and followers. Tell me what you think and feel about them.
FYI they still remain covered everywhere i go, even at home. 


They say that time heals all wounds.

But the scars which inevitably get left behind still hurt. They are glaring reminders of the pain that you were in, and the pain that you’ll always be in.

It most definitely feels like i am back to rock-bottom once again. How it happened, i don’t know. And it seems like the only way to surface is with the last-resort method all over again.


Battle Scars

I am all battled up and wounded, and i have plenty of scars to show for it. Some faint, some silverish, some pinkish, some raised, some a peculiar dark red, some just plain dots, and some keloidal. I am not, very honestly, proud of them. Because although these scars are a reminder of what i’ve gone through, and how i eventually came out of the crises stronger than before, i am positive that there could’ve been better ways in doing so.

I remember holding tightly onto them- craft blades, pen knives and all- carving away at my flesh as though it was wood that i was working on. Except that what i was working on was definitely not inanimate- it was flesh fed by blood vessels and nerves.

The blade would sear through the delicate flesh while blood vessels tore apart, releasing endorphins together with a steady stream of blood. It is kinda cathartic, quite unlike anything else, even when compared to a good hard cry. And so as it continues to bleed, i can feel the tension ebb. It is unfortunate that this is a way of life for me to carry on, because i cannot simply pretend that nothing has happened, when all i have to show for are my scars.

And the last few times it happened, cutting just didn’t do it anymore. Blood-letting did, and i was more than happy to drain myself of  the extraneous blood. Yes my problems were all still there, but deep down inside i was feeling so much better having rid myself of the extraneous blood.

I’ve totally steered clear of such self-injurious behaviours due to the environment i am placed in, and its rules which i have to follow. I know it will not be easy once i’m left on my own. And i know i stand a huge chance of falling back into what i am comfortable with.

But this is my life, and only i myself will be able to decide where to go on from here.