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Bipolar Disorder Scars (trigger warning)

My right wrist is tattooed with the word “Love.” The tattoo faces me. It faces me because I need it to remind me to love myself because, you see, sometimes I forget. It reminds me that God means love. It is a symbol of strength. But if you look closely enough you will see a scar – a line that runs between the “o” and the “v” of the words. It is a self-inflicted scar. Another reason I got the tattoo was to stop me from cutting up my right wrist. I wouldn’t want to ruin the tattoo, now would I?

My left wrist is a tangle of snakes, of rivers searching for a place to open up to a lake or sea. I am very embarrassed of it. Every time I am at the drive thru I think they are internally judging me. Over the years, I have acquired myriad bracelets and watched to hide the scars. My left wrist is another story. I cut the “right” way, up and down, not sideways. The scars are tender even today, after all that time. I’ve needed stitches at least three times. Two of those times I went to the doctors too long after the cutting and all we could do was bandage and wrap my wrist up. The other time I was given stitches along with a 7 day stay in a psych ward. I’m pretty sure I could have used them a few more times, but I don’t like doctors and hate psych wards.

Two years for Christmas I asked my family for money so I could get a tattoo on my left wrist. Christmas came with a note from my brother. A sweet little note saying that if I visited our tattoo artist, Chop at Chop Shop, he would hook me up with a wrist tattoo bracelet.

I gathered some pics of tattoos I like. Of course, Chop stepped up and made something gorgeous just for me. The very center of my wrist hurt most and I felt like I was kicking my own butt for my bad behavior. You know? I deserved it.

I’ve never cut anywhere else on my body, just my wrists. For me, it has more to do with my obsessive compulsive disorder than anything else. It also seems to coincide with stress (like most of my obsessive thoughts and subsequent compulsions). I don’t cut to feel pain. I don’t cut for attention – in fact I hide it as best I can. I do it because my mind becomes stuck on the idea. It gets stuck and I can’t move it and it’s exhausting and then I can’t take it another minute and I give in.

There is shame that comes along with all of this. Shame when people notice or ask me about the scars. Shame that I could go months without cutting and then I gave in again. I used to do a good job at hiding the scars. I have a collection of over-sized bracelets and large-faced watched that I wear to cover my left wrist. But today I don’t care as much. My scars tell a story. I am not proud of what led me to concealing it but am glad with the results.

You do not have to cut – for any reason. But I won’t judge you, I just wish you did not hurt you delicate skin. I know how bad it can get, how obsessed our minds can be. This is a bit triggering so I am gonna end with this.

Be safe. Feel love.

Bipolar Disorder Scars (trigger warning)

Elaina J. Martin

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APA Reference
Martin, E. (2020). Bipolar Disorder Scars (trigger warning). Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 May 2020
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