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Loss of a Pet can be a Trigger

Originally posted on PhD Balance social media platforms on 02/01/2021.

TW: self-harm, scars

I began struggling with depression in middle school. Middle school is generally sucky, but for me, it was also the point when I began self-harming. I was in therapy throughout high school, but when I went off to college I didn't find a therapist. Part of this was because my on-campus mental health centre didn't provide long-term counselling or support finding off-campus psychologists, and the other part was that I was already severely depressed.

The changes that enrolling in undergrad brought, coupled with my dog dying suddenly while I was gone, caused my self-harm habits to come back with a vengeance. That first year was when I gave myself wounds that left major visible scars, up and down my arms and on the rest of my body. When I applied to graduate school my senior year, I was excited to get interview invitations but I was terrified that I would be judged by my scars. I packed only long-sleeved shirts and pants and, thankfully, the weather cooperated and I didn't stand out. Now, I'm entering my second year of a PhD program, and I feel more comfortable in my own skin. Largely, this is due to the fact that my scars have faded and they're no longer what people see first. I still have moments when I will catch people staring at my scars, and I'm not at the point yet where that doesn't bother me. Maybe someday I’ll reach that point, but for now, I’m simply continuing to build healthy habits and work on my mental health, one day at a time.


We thank the anonymous author for sharing their story.


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