This is my final art A2 piece, responding to the theme ‘Storyteller’.
I decided to tell my own story of self harm/food problems through visual means: a self portrait/collage in which I am trying to show that I have now recovered and moved on from what was a really horrible time in my life.
I think I took a risk by including torn-out diary pages from my second relapse in 2010, as a lot of people at school (and now the internet) will see this, and after all it is a very personal thing, when I wrote this I never intended it to be read by anyone other than myself. I decided to include the pages because it is my own way of coming to terms with the fact that this is how I once felt, despite being so far from those feelings now. I think it is better for me to face up to these pages, rather than pretending these feelings never existed. The diary in which they were stored was still sat in the box by my bed, and these words were lying stagnant in the air in my room, and I decided it was time to put them to use or at least get them out of my room as they are no longer relevant of helpful to me in any way. It was very satisfying, almost therapeutic, to tear them to pieces, I felt as though I was killing those thoughts so that they could never return. I stared at them in disbelief as I stuck them down - I can’t believe it was my hand that wrote these words, they seem alien to me now.
The collage coming from my mouth - the story - might not be as aesthetically pleasing or as nicely arranged as I had hoped it would be, but for the first time ever I realised I cared more about the message and meaning in my piece than how it was visually presented or how ‘pretty’ it looked. I hoped that it wouldn’t look too contrived, but I just wanted to portray self injury through small objects and items, where before long butterflies - hope, recovery, redemption, safety - start to emerge, and then take over. I wanted it to represent how I was once so caught up in self hatred and self denial that I thought I would never recover or never even want to recover, but then after much time I did see the light and everything started to fall into place, and I got my life back. Today as I assembled the piece, I realised the last time I had opened a box of razors had been in 2010, and the fact that I have come so far made me feel proud. I included such graphic items and horrible words because they are still a part of me and my story, but I have since risen above that and since realised that I am better than that.
I don’t know if anyone will have read this long description, but if you have done and you are also struggling with self-harm or an eating disorder or know someone who is, know that there is still hope yet. For years I was so low and so hopeless and remember thinking that I would never get better so I might as well take my own life. I am so glad I didn’t. I am admitting all this now because I have transformed and now see all the beauty in life and I am truly, truly happy. When I was 13 I didn’t see how I could ever not want to hurt myself, and at the age of 17 I know that recovery is possible, and recovery is beautiful. I don’t know exactly how to go about recovering, but I do know there is always the possibility of finding a way out. You just have to find it.
“Storyteller: Recovery” by Kate Powell