The Roots in the Storm

February 18, 2022

By Aurora Zappacenere

I’m Aurora, I’m 21 years old, and I come from Umbria, a region in Italy. I play the piano, and I like everything related to art: whether it’s writing, reading, photography, music or painting. I like visiting new places, being surrounded by nature and animals, and also having long talks about life. While I am busy searching my way, I delight in asking myself existential questions that, perhaps, I will never find an answer to. We are all looking for ourselves, in a world made of glass and mirrors.

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The personality of an individual is like a plant to be watered, and growth can happen in the storms that make the tree’s trunk bend. My storms are called bullying, anxiety, non-acceptance, insecurity, hypochondria, panic attacks, fear of the future, and death. I have been bullied since I was a child, and this has brought me so many insecurities. I was isolated, and my certainties began to waver.

Why blame someone for the way they are, or cling to a false ideal of invisible beauty? We are stripped of ourselves and placed in front of an apparently perfect aesthetic canon, in continuous evolution. Everyone should be accepted for who they are, rather than making them feel wrong about their character, a thought, or a facial feature. If everyone were to be taught that everyone is special and beautiful in their own way, bullying and suicide would be reduced; because words leave wounds that take a long time to heal, and sometimes it takes very little to reopen them and bleed.

At 15, the panic attacks started and they never went away. Sometimes they make themselves heard, other times they don’t. The heart begins to beat fast, the breath accelerates. You feel you are on the scream of a precipice. The mind is inhabited by demons, and you are sure to go mad. Anxiety is all of this; it is she who makes you run to the hospital in the middle of the night while she whispers that you are about to die, through body spasms, tingling limbs, and tired eyes. It is many things and none, because it is born from your mind.

You need a fixed point, what is missing in your life, that makes you stay with your feet on the ground . . . I found it in my mom. The most important step is to talk to someone (better still a professional) and then accept that it is part of us, but a part of us that we can try to silence. It is momentary, it will not last forever: we must be our own anchor . . . and even if the ghost of words and experiences remain like a needle under the skin, we must have the strength to get up again. If people were kinder and more empathetic, there would be fewer problems. Our black holes do not fill up by hurting others . . . so, we only hurt ourselves.

Another event that made my stability falter was the death of my grandfather. It is something that has always troubled me because you know that you cannot escape it and that it can come at any moment. Writing has helped me a lot: I use words to express my inner world. I have many notebooks full of thoughts and poems, and I hope that someday they will take shape. It would be like honoring my grandfather, who has always believed in this side of me . . . last year my poem was published in a book that contains the works of contemporary poets on “World Poetry Day.” Thanks to writing, my family, my friends, nature, music, books, painting, and the piano, I try to keep myself afloat in the waves that try to drown me. Thanks to art in all its forms because that makes me feel alive.

A month ago, the proposal to give a “psychologist bonus” to anyone who needed it was abolished by the Italian government. Also due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a great increase in requests from citizens for psychological counseling, but many people cannot afford such a high expense, so they gave up. However, some regions are organizing themselves to combat this problem in a different way, establishing the structure of a basic psychologist.

I decided to organize a signature collection with the goal of obtaining a basic psychologist for Umbria, the region where I live. Mental health should not be a luxury, but a right. “Cause you were born this way.” Thanks, Gaga. In addition to admiring you as an artist, I admire you above all as a person. You have conveyed so much to me through your words, and I will always be grateful to you. Thanks to you, I met wonderful “Little Monsters” that I love very much. In particular Manila, a girl, who also gave me the book “CHANNEL KINDNESS.”

Thanks for everything, Stefani. Be kind, be brave, and seek beauty in everything you see.

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