Monday, 30 July 2018

Stereotyping Self Harm

On Saturday night, I popped into Tesco on my way home from work to pick up some flowers as it was my mum's birthday the following day. Despite it being much cooler than the week prior, it was still warm and I had just finished my shift at work and therefore I was wearing short sleeves.. not that I should have to justify myself. Usually when I wear short sleeves out in public, I switch off from other people, I avoid looking at people because if I can't see them looking at my scars then I can't be upset, I did exactly this, until I got to the till aisle and started packing my bag when I noticed the employee staring at my scars whilst scanning my shopping, I looked at her to see if she'd stop if she knew that I had realised but she continued, staring at me so I looked away and continued packing my shopping as fast as I could as I was already feeling extremely self conscious. When all of my items had been scanned, I did not expect for this employee, who is at work to right out ask me "have you been bullied?" with nothing more than a shocked and curious look on her face, I quickly stated "no" because I haven't been bullied, paid for my shopping and left. I was angry, I was so incredibly angry, what gives her the right to ask such a sensitive question when she doesn't even know me? What gives her the right to presume that because I have obvious self harm scars that I was bullied? The thing that made it even more infuriating is that she clearly knew that my scars were from self harm because if not, she wouldn't have even asked if I had been bullied. Another thing that annoyed me, was that this was one of the few times that I had been to a till by myself, no other customers or employee's were around and it felt like she took advantage of this and therefore thought it was OK to ask me such a damn right rude question. I can guarantee that this wouldn't have happened if I was with somebody else and how uneducated and obnoxious can somebody be, to presume that if you have self harm scars, then you've been bullied.

Nothing bugs me more than people creating and promoting stereotypes surrounding Mental Health Issues and Self Harm, absolutely nothing. We are in 2018 and people are still stuck in the ways of stereotypes despite all of the awareness, research and news that is thrown into the world in order to try and change peoples perceptions on Mental Health. Just because you have self harm scars, does not mean that you have necessarily been bullied, I understand that there are people who self harm as a result of bullying however, less than half of the people that I have met, who have experienced self harm were bullied. How about, instead of judging people, being nosy and making individuals feel self conscious, you actually educate yourself because then maybe, you will come to the realisation that Mental Illness is a very real thing and that self harm can be a side effect and coping mechanism for dealing with emotional distress and even many other things. If you don't know the person, let alone their story, you have absolutely no right to ask them questions about their scars because they're not going to waste their time telling you and you've already proven that you're judging them.

I know that there will be people out there saying how I am over reacting which I may be, but these things need to be spoken about because if not, the stigma and stereotypes are only going to remain in place and continue to upset people. Self Harm is not always due to being bullied, Self Harm is not always due to abuse, Self Harm is not always due to distress so don't you dare have the nerve to ask such a ridiculous and offensive question, especially when you're at work and are meant to be giving good customer service. Thank-you for the lady who decided to query me on my scars for inspiring me to write this post but I am afraid that you will not stop me from going out in short sleeves, I think you may have even encouraged me to do so more.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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