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Social phobia of people seeing my burns

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Total Posts: 1

Joined 2016-05-19

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I just turned 31 years old, was burned at the age of 2 and still struggle with often times debilitating social anxiety. My 3rd degree burns (scalding water accident) are solely on all 10 of my fingers -which, for me, is a double edge sword. I have mastered hiding my hands in almost all social situations- but the longer I hide them from people the worse the anxiety gets that I will ‘be discovered’.

I have friends of 4 years that haven’t to my knowledge noticed because of how well I conceal them. I’ve dated men for up to 3 months without them seeing. Because of this I am very controlling about what type of social environments I allow myself.. i.e. dimly lit restaurants, try not to go on day dates, order food which I don’t need to cut as not to linger with my hands above the table etc…

Ironically a friend I made 3 years ago is a burn unit nurse and I am still horribly embarrassed to bring it up in front of her. I’ve volunteered at a handful of events for a firefighters burn institute (I thought this would help bring me out of the closet so to speak). Even met and dated a firefighter from the event- still couldn’t bring myself to brooch the subject.

Does anyone else struggle with burns that can be strategically hidden, making it more and more of a ‘shameful secret’? I wish I was strong enough to wear my scars with pride like others can. This has held me back in all facets of life, career, dating, frienships. Logically I know people have compassion and wouldn’t judge me for the most part. But I’d go so far as to say it has become a real phobia of people seeing. If anyone can relate or give me words of wisdom I would be so grateful.

Thank you

     
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Total Posts: 10

Joined 2016-04-18

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Thank you Morgan for your post and having the courage to share your story.  Coping with scars is a very common challenge in burn recovery.  Shame is one of those emotions that can have the most overwhelming impacts on our emotional well being.  Even if we know that intellectually that there is nothing to be ashamed of, it still impacts our self-esteem.  It may be helpful to work with a therapist, and very helpful to get connected into the burn recovery world (as you did with your post).

There are many tricks of the trade that survivors have learned work for them, and it may be helpful to learn about them and try them on to see what feels comfortable to help you cope.  In addition to this forum to help survivors connect, we also have a web chat on Wednesday nights, http://www.phoenix-society.org/chat, SOAR Peer Support program, and World Burn Congress.  Are website also offers a lot of information that may help you get started https://www.phoenix-society.org/our-programs/online-learning/beyond-surviving-tools.

     

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Clinical Social Worker
Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

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Total Posts: 4

Joined 2017-06-18

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Hello Morgan
        I’m 33 years old and for about 2 years ago I had burn injuries II. and III. degree on 40%. I understand you totally becausese to me is much easier to fight with mine scars because I get it when mine time of youth has passed. But dealing it with from beginning is, I must sad pretty nasty especially if you are all time thinking about them. I can give you picture, from mine point of view, how I look on your scars. If you also took a look from mine position you will see that you should be happy person.
When I was injured, I went to hospital and they put me in induced coma for 3 weeks. When I wake up I could not move my hand and(or) finger a inch. I didn’t see mine hand or feel it at all. They were been like wooden pieces wrapped with bandage. It takes a 2 months for some functional movement with mine hands, open yogurt or chocolate, then I was start to be appreciate for mine hands. I didn’t think at all about how they look. I was happy when I was for first time go independently to the bathroom. I was happy that I can knit the button and all others “little” things that I have been unable to do at first. So now after 2 years, here I’m like born again. Mine hands are totally come back at full functionalities, even doctor’s have been talking that they will never be like before accident. But just opposite, I think and feel now they are much stronger, because off many training. Only thing which is different is the look of them, now when I look on them, I don’t see scars or transplantations, I don’t think what are other think when they see scars, I see hands that I was lost and get it back. And what I feel is a feeling of lost hands that was end and now is closed, I just know how bad is that to live without hands.
So you should stop thinking about look of your hands, your hands have a story, but there are, I think 100% functional, to eat, to doing a job, typing, and doing thousands of other things in your life, from which you will be happy. But there is only one thing for what your hands are not for, and you are pretty much doing only that thing with your hands, and that is hiding them. You also occupied so much of brain for thinking how to hide hands, what should you eat, drink… stop doing that, do what your hands want to do,  let them freedom, and you will have much better time in your life. Just try imagine that you haven’t any finger, you will then give everything for them, now deal with it, your hands are different, mine also but that doesn’t mean that there are not look nice. Mine hands are the best looking hands in the hole world because there are mine. Your also, believe me.

     
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Total Posts: 10

Joined 2016-04-18

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Hello Marin,
Thank you so much for your reply and words of encouragement to Morgan.  It is always wonderful to know what has worked for other survivors in their healing process.  We know that everyone finds different tools and ways of coping, and you sound like you have found what has worked well for you to live with scars.  We also encourage everyone to recovery and making meaning of their trauma and scars as they can and in the time they need. Your story is inspirational and thank you for sharing.  I invite others to share what has worked for you in coping with scars.

     

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Clinical Social Worker
Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

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Total Posts: 1

Joined 2019-03-15

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Hello Morgan
I am 32years old & also got burnt at the age of 2 from scalding hot water. I am burnt on my right forearm & chest & stomach & I also am a master at hiding my scars.