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Kintsukuroi

To Repair with Gold (N.)

“Kintsukuroi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.” I love this word because it’s so simple, yet so lovely at the same time. I love relating this word back to mental health as well because I think it can describe the healing process beautifully.

So often, I have thought of myself as broken beyond repair. I have looked in the mirror and have hated the shattered human staring back at me. I thought my razor-sharp and ragged edges were unbearable. I thought, “who could ever love someone that has been so damaged.” I thought of time and how it slowly turned me into the distressed mess that I eventually became. No longer beautiful. No longer worthy. No longer deserving to be repaired. Just, broken.

“Your brain is sick,” “You need medication,” “Have you talked to your therapist lately,” “Why don’t we try upping your dosage,” “Have you ever tried anti-depressants,” “I’m going to write you a prescription,” “You’re so selfish,” “Don’t you care about anyone but yourself,” “You’re a wreck,” “Maybe you should have thought harder about the consequences of your actions,” “You’re holding me back from living my life,” “You’re dragging me down,” “All you do is complain,” “You’re way too much to handle,” “This isn’t fun anymore,” “Get back on medication and when you’re better, I’ll think about us getting back together,” "Get over it,” “Stop crying, people have it so much worse than you,” “It’s all in your head,” You’re not the only person with issues, you know” “You’re too young to have anxiety,” “You’re such a disgusting slut, focus, on yourself for once,” “It’s so selfish to say that you want to die. Don’t say that anymore,” and “You’re sick.” All these outside voices, after so many years I can still hear them ringing in my head. I have been conditioned, by myself and by others, to think that I am permanently broken. That I will never heal, I will never be anything, I will always be a waste of space. That’s where Kintsukuroi comes into play. A word that essentially says your brokenness is still beautiful, in fact even more beautiful than when you were whole.

In a world like the one we live in today, it can be extremely difficult to admit that you are broken, that you struggle with your mental health. So difficult in fact that nearly 50 percent of people suffering with a severe mental health disorder do not seek treatment. Stigma plays a huge role in people not being able to come forward. We are told that we are weak, that it’s all in our head. If others can’t physically see it, then it doesn’t exist right? I have been so blessed with an amazing family and a few true and wonderful best friends who have stuck by my side through all the good, bad and ugly. Even with this support system though, I still felt completely isolated, and it was absolutely terrifying to finally be able to admit to myself and to others that I struggle with severe mental illness and it dramatically affects my everyday life. I knew that I had been broken, but I never wanted to admit it to anyone else. I figured I would just stay silent and broken forever.

Kintsukuroi is a word that makes me feel beautiful again. All my broken pieces are simply just broken pieces. These broken pieces do not define me, they are a part of me yes, but they are not who I am. They are who I was. They are what I have been through and what I have dealt with. They are my experiences. And what makes Kintsukuroi relevant to my healing process is that I am now filling in my once hated cracks with self-love, realization, and admittance. Among many other things, but those are the basics. My broken pieces are being filled with beautiful thoughts and words and healing that makes me feel alive. I am turning into something even more beautiful, because I was beautiful all along, just a little broken.

It’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to feel lonely. But do not, for one second, think that you are forever broken. It helps to admit it to yourself first, always start off with that. You need to come to the realization on your own that maybe something is going on that you need to get help for. You can’t truly get better if you think that you’re totally fine and you don’t need the help. Admitting it to someone else is the next step. It can be a friend, a family member, a teacher, a doctor, you can even call a hotline or visit a mental health website and admit it to a total stranger. And then you ask for help in battling your illness, and you fill in your broken pieces with love and care. You don’t stay broken forever, that’s not who you were meant to be. You’ve been through it, and now you heal yourself and show others that their brokenness is beautiful too.