I have a slight situation arising and would like some opinions/thoughts on how to proceed.
- I am male, in my early 20s.
- I have self-harmed for a number of years, and am currently a few weeks 'clean' (read: no open wounds).
- I have scars on my upper-left arm and over my chest and torso. The scars are easily noticeable but not too large/deep (I have never cut deep enough to require professional medical attention). For a visual reference, think 'Aftermath of a somewhat vicious cat attack' rather than 'Geralt of Rivia'. :)
- Currently, exactly 0 people know that I have self-harmed and 0 people have seen my scars.
- The general reason for my self-harm is bouts of depression.
In a few days I will be going on a short holiday with a group of close friends. Most of the (~8) people attending have known me for a few years. This holiday will involve some swimming, which will result in me removing my shirt and revealing my scars.
In an effort to be more honest with people I care about, I would not like to try and hide my scars or attempt to explain them away using a lie (although I doubt this would be possible since they are quite obviously self-harm).
So I have come to accept the fact that my friends will find out about my history of self-harm. However, I would like to make the 'reveal' as easy as possible for all parties involved (where 'easy' translates to 'least awkward')
Since I have no experience with people discovering this somewhat embarrassing fact about me, I am unsure on how to approach the situation. I am a very laid back person and I think most people would be genuinely surprised by the scars, even though they may not vocalise that fact.
My aim is to portray that I am okay with questions/comments about my scars and nothing anyone can say will 'trigger' me or anything like that. If they want to ask me questions about it, fine. If they want to say nothing and ignore the whole thing, fine also. I would hate to be treated differently and have people censor themselves around me after they find out but I can see this might be inevitable.
My first thought was to approach the situation head on and make a comment/joke about my scars as to show that I am not sensitive about the topic, but maybe that would cause some unnecessary awkwardness. But I also feel waiting until I am questioned about it by someone else would be less than ideal.
I also have a secondary concern of 'triggering' someone else while talking about my self-harm. Since they have no idea that I do this, it is not out of the question that someone else in the friendship group may have a history with this themselves (or someone they love) and may not be as laid back about it as me.
So I would love some input and thoughts about the situation I am in. This is my first question on any SE site, so apologies if anything is off. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and have a great day.