This is a reader submission from Hana Graham, who suffers from borderline personality disorder. She’s working with her team of medical professionals to plan a baby and we asked her to write about the process.
TRIGGER WARNING: SELF-HARM.
I have a problem I’m sure a lot of mothers and future mothers out there, fathers too, have, but no one is talking about. It’s a taboo subject in the first place. It caused a bit of a ruckus in a previous article I wrote for Mommyish. I’m sure one day I might expand on the very topic itself, but today I want to focus on it’s aftermath. I’m planning to become a mother, or, well, to become pregnant anyway, later this year. I won’t have to worry about this particular issue for quite some time. But one day, my kids are going to notice mommy’s body isn’t like everyone else’s. They are going to come to me, and they are going to ask me, “Mommy, how did you get all these scars?”
I honestly haven’t figured out how to answer them yet. Granted, I still have several years to figure it out. Maybe you can help me. I tried to research this online the other day, I really searched. I couldn’t find any suggestions I approved of. The only stories I saw were about older siblings telling their younger siblings WAY too much truth for my liking. A kid shouldn’t have to carry the burden of this particular truth around. I do intend to tell them the serious real truth one day, when they’re old enough. Questions like “mommy why…” are not from kids who are old enough, they’re like….from kids ages four and up. And to me, that is just too young for the truth. The truth is too ugly.
I can’t tell my child something like, “Because mommy used to hate herself.” Or “Mommy hurts herself when she gets upset.” Why would anyone say that to a small child? That’s just too much. It’s too much for most of my adult friends to hear, let alone my own child. I only intend to tell them about it when they’re older because it’s something they might be more prone to, and I never want them to end up with a 15 year addiction and struggle. My body is covered in a network of scars, some barely noticeable, some absolutely horrific and obviously self-inflicted, including 15 burns on the back of each wrist. (For those who chipped in on the previous article, I’d like to proudly announce I’m still clean since the time mentioned in that piece!)
The only other advice I could find online wasn’t advice at all. It was horrible people saying horrible things to pregnant women who had happened to struggle with self-injury in the past – or present. Who am I to judge? But I think it’s downright wrong to tell any woman who is asking for honest advice on what to tell her kids about her scars one day, “give those babies up so they don’t have you for a mother.” Extreme, much? It’s more common than most people think, and it is on the rise amongst young people. I suggest, as I always do, education and awareness over condemnation and making these kids feel like outcasts. I digress, though.