ART AND CULTURE

Your skin is a canvas

Thinking back, there were fewer instances of when even waking up would feel like an awfully taxing chore, but nowadays it has become a recurring theme in my life. Even today, I didn’t have the enthusiasm or the grave energy to leave the house, yet again I did. I had kids waiting to hear stories, waiting to have what could possibly be the best class of the day, waiting to learn the reality. 

“Good morning everyone!” I greeted, as I entered the class full of growing youths with bright dreams in their eyes.

“Good morning miss!” everyone yelled in unison. 

My eyes roamed around the four walls until they met with those of a boy who was sitting at the back of the class, wearing a hoodie. 

“Hey, isn’t it a little too warm to be wearing a hoodie?” I went to him and asked.

He just stared at me for a while and replied rather innocently, “I am always cold.” I looked away. I understood him and I understood what needed to be done.

I took a long breath and continued, “Today, I am going to share a story about a girl who was always cold. I knew her growing up and she was the most cheerful person. She was easy-going, would be friends with everyone, never refused anyone’s asks for help, and always had a smile on her face. She was almost annoyingly optimistic and full of life, but she had a knack for changing the mood of those around her. 

There were many unique things about her, the most distinct being her hoodie that she always seemed to be wearing, even during the warmest days. And whenever someone would ask, she would smile and say, “I am always cold.” We only ever saw her at school, around people being the jolly person that she was, but we never saw her by herself. That was the only time the hoodie would ever come off and in the mirror, would be a reflection of her arms. “She lives a cheerful life,” everyone thought but it was far from the truth. Every day she would go home, lock herself up and add more drawings on her arms and thighs. Those drawings spoke about her pain that no one seemed to notice. No one noticed when her own family pushed her towards the dark route. No one noticed when her blood spilled all over the floor and left little stains. No one noticed when she fell on the floor, battered and bruised, struggling to breathe, with only so little life left inside. 

No one noticed but that didn’t stop her from making the life she wanted. She might be troubled and different but she was and is the bravest person because here she is, in front of you and in the process of turning her life around.”

I then rolled up my sleeves, showing what remained of the scars and the whole class looked stunned, terrified almost. Except for the boy in the back. He had a strange look on his face, something I couldn’t quite comprehend but then he slowly got up from where he was seated. A sheer look of courage took over him and he too, took off the hoodie, showing what still was in his little arms. 

This is for anyone who is struggling right now. I am glad you are here because this means you are choosing to give life a second chance. In midst of all these stigmas around mental health, you and I can take a step forward. Ask for professional help, ask for emotional support, ask for a better life filled with fun and inspiration. There is no shame in accepting reality because I am a survivor. Your skin is a canvas but I need you to stop carving and start painting.

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