The Stories My Body Tells

We’ve been through a lot together

Ashley Peterson
Aug 28 · 4 min read
Image by JL G from Pixabay

This body has been with me through a lifetime, and some things all the way have left their mark in indelible ink. These marks will be forever linked to the stories from which they arise.

My left wrist tells a story from my first hospitalization for depression. I was locked in a seclusion room and so desperate to kill myself that I used an eggshell from my breakfast tray to try cut my wrist. It’s a strange collection of scars; perhaps I was hunting unsuccessfully for the artery.

My right wrist bears another scar; this one thin and neat from a paring knife at another point in time when I thought my life needed to end.

On my forehead, I have a dented scar in about the same place an Indian woman might wear a bindi. It’s from chickenpox when I was 15 years old. Just as my sores were starring to scab over, I headed across the country on my own for a summer language immersion program.

My parents weren’t going to let a little infectious disease stand in the way. The scab on my forehead was the last to fall off, and it happened when I was in bed in my uncomfortable little dorm room that represented more freedom than I’d ever even dreamed of having before.

On my upper abdomen, I have a scar from an infected hair follicle. The scar itself is unremarkable, but it formed at a time when I was staying at my Grandma’s house while I was doing a practicum placement for university. I love Grandma very much, and I’ve got some valuable memories from having that much time to spend with her.

My belly is a testament to the important role psychiatric medications have played in my life. When the weight was first piling on, it was mostly concentrated around my belly.

There was a stage when multiple people commented on me being supposedly pregnant. My rule of thumb? Don’t comment unless the woman is clearly going to give birth within the next two days. Now I’m more generally fat all over, so people don’t ask about that anymore.

Another thing that has come with getting fat is having a double chin. It’s the only part of my body that I haven’t been able to get comfortable with. Perhaps that’s the lingering effects of my parent’s anti-fat attitudes that I was exposed to when I was younger.

I have a vague memory, which may or may not be based on actual events, of my dad coming home after visiting some of his family and telling my mom how disgusting it was that my uncle had gained weight and had a double chin.

I have a dolphin tattoo on my right hip that I got when I was 19. I liked to show it off in low-slung pants and tops that showed a little bit of midriff. At that time in my life, my body was my friend, especially because it coped remarkably well with all the alcohol I poured into it.

The other art I have tattooed on my body is there to remind myself of my strength. After my second hospitalization, I had Chinese characters symbolizing resilience tattooed on my left hip.

After my fourth hospitalization, I got a phoenix tattooed on the left side of my ribcage, and it comes down and swirls around the tattoo on my hip. I like that it’s in a place where almost no one else sees it; after all, it’s for me, not for anyone else.

I have a rectocele (pelvic organ prolapse) that began during a multi-day kayaking trip with my boyfriend at the time back in my 20’s. Straining my core to balance the kayak in the ocean water injured something down in the lower pelvic region. Getting out of the kayak on the second day, it felt like my insides were falling out. It’s the gift that has kept on giving. The boyfriend, thankfully, is long gone.

My body is shaky and not very coordinated, thanks to my medication. There is a dent a few inches below my left knee from when I fell down some stairs at work. Yet in my closet, there still sits the pair of ballet pointe shoes I used to be able to dance on 10 years ago. Some things are hard to let go.

There’s something very comforting about being in a body that I know so well. I’m sure the years to come will leave their marks in their own way, and who knows what stories they may bring.

Candour

Stories that celebrate the openness about the joys, victories, milestones, and pitfalls of life.

Ashley Peterson

Written by

Mental health blogger, nurse, living with depression. Author of Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psych Meds Made Simple. https://mentalhealthathome.org

Candour

Candour

Stories that celebrate the openness about the joys, victories, milestones, and pitfalls of life.

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