090: There's Space for Something Beautiful

Content Warning: The following post contains references to suicidal ideation and self-harm, which may be triggering to some readers.

"There's Space for Something Beautiful" Anonymous

Note: All survivors who reach out to The Art of Survival are given the option to remain anonymous in sharing their story. Any specific details about the survivor are shared at their discretion, and not the creators of the page.

Imagine your life as a time capsule. 

Every moment deemed worthy carefully stowed away to be looked back at with nostalgia. Mine is filled with many things. Open it, and you’ll hear music that sounds like the wind off the beach, like my siblings laughter, like a movie soundtrack that never ends, being watched by me and the people I love. You’ll see sunlight in mason jars, you’ll see constellations engraved on the walls. In all honesty, you’ll find a busted laptop, some video games, a pair of headphones covered in blush and and a special lighter. 

You’ll also find blood. It will cover everything. No matter how many times you wash and scrub it away, buckets and buckets will flow. You’ll find lethargy and numbness. You’ll find Xacto knives and you’ll find restriction. You will hear me weeping. You will hear me screaming. 

Mental illness has always been a large part of who I am. 

My first time I felt suicidal was when I was 7. I looked up at the purple metal of the bunk bed above me, and imagined smashing my head on it over and over until I was dead. Vivid fantasies like this have always been right beneath my skin, and believe me, ever since then I’ve done everything you can imagine to get them out. 

Being depressed at a young age really distorts your life. Instead of a fluid timeline I can follow, my past consists of hazy vignettes that tirelessly replay in my head, foggy memories where details are dropped or remembered incorrectly, and blackout periods I’m not sure I want to remember. 

This time capsule of pain needs to be unpacked, but how? 

How do you let go of cigarette burns, neatly tucked away on the inside of your thighs when they found out you liked a girl? Years of abuse with a sticky note attached: “I’m sorry.” How do you fill it with the food you refused because you were terrified of drawing attention to yourself, terrified of being a burden, terrified of not at least being pretty? Do you throw out your rape that’s sitting right at the top of the box, or just bury it, like you do everything else?

If I tell the truth, I had convinced myself I would just throw the whole thing away. I’m 19, and if I told 16 year old me I’d get this old, she’d laugh. “No,” she’d say “you’ll be dead before the end of the year.” If you sorted nights in high school into different section in my capsule, more of them than not would fall into the “I-might-kill-myself-tonight” pile. Three pendants would hang around lock for the nights I tried. And yet, here I am! Sorting my box, sorting my life. 

So, where does that leave me? Some days it hurts too much to open the lid. Never thinking it would have to me picking through this box looking for anything of use. My friends now look through it with me, tossing the things that hurt too much for me to touch. But it’s different now. Even at my worst I don’t want to get rid of it all. MY depression, MY anxiety, MY eating disorder, all of these are MINE.

Don’t get wrong, I want to heal! I want light and happiness and the pain to end, and I’m working towards that! But my past happened. No matter what I do I cannot go back and undo all the wrong done unto me. All the wrong I have done unto others when all I wanted was to alienate and distance those who loved me. What I can do now, is look at how much I’ve grown. How much of what I love has had to go away, and how many people I have had to leave behind. And put it away. 

There is a lot of space left for the beautiful, and the only way to fill it up is to keep on living, and keep on unpacking and repacking until everything fits together perfectly.


About the art:

This has been one of my favorite stories shared so far, because of the writing. I was able to vividly imagine said time capsule through the vivid imagery, and I was able to go through a few ideas before I landed on this one. I was able to incorporate pieces of the time capsule surrounding the message of survival.

I loved that this survivor found a way to make sure they made sure there was always a bit of hope even after going through trauma. This inspired me, and I'm definitely going to take this mantra, and apply it to my own life. 

- Katy