Mental illness is something that is often misunderstood and treated with ignorance by our society, but it is very real and should never be overlooked or underestimated.
One Manchester teen has been struggling with symptoms of depression for several years and at times would turn to self-harming. Recently, she decided to channel this destructive habit into something positive and her story is truly inspirational.
Amelia Hall is an 18-year-old college student who has struggled with depression and self-harm for years.
Hall is an Archaeology student and talented painter at the University of Manchester. Her work has often been influenced by Van Gogh, an artist who was infamous not only for his paintings, but for his own form of self-harm.
Last week, after a particularly rough day when she felt like self-harming, she instead chose to re-create the classic Van Gogh painting “Café Terrace at Night” on her leg.
Hall told BuzzFeed News she felt like she “was creating something I could be proud of.”
She said that it has taken her some time “to learn that no matter how bad everything may be, it’s not worth physically hurting yourself.”
“For me in that moment, I tried to turn my body – something I don’t consider to be beautiful – into a canvas,” she said.
After 3 hours of painting, she considered giving up and wiping off what she had created, but thankfully decided to keep going.
“I remember sitting there halfway through wanting to wash it all off and just go back to bed,” she said. “But I’m so glad I kept working on it because I have something wonderful to show from a particularly bad day, instead of just self-harm marks.”
Though Hall knew that she had created something beautiful, she also recognized that it wasn’t going to make her depression disappear.
“I didn’t exactly feel better when it was finished,” she said. “It didn’t make the depression go away – it was never going to do that.”
It was, however, a monumental step in her journey to living a healthier life.
“But it felt like I’d been able to channel some of my negative feelings into my art, and it felt wonderful to look at it and know that I’d channelled my negative emotions into doing some creative instead of destructive.”
Hall decided to share her experience on Twitter and the response was overwhelmingly supportive.
“Everyone has been so supportive and wonderful,” Hall said. “Even strangers over Twitter have messaged me saying they’re proud of me and that they think it’s a lovely idea.”
If you or someone close to you is struggling with depression or self-harm, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).