SELF HARM AWARENESS CAMPAIGN 2023
” Dialogue is fundamental. The key that unlocks the door to dialogue is reaching out and talking.”
The goal of this Mental Illness awareness campaign is to offer an opportunity to dialogue on one of the increasingly common but as yet still closeted social taboos.. people hurting themselves as a way to deal with life.
Self Harm takes many forms; cutting or burning, substance abuse and addiction, suicidal thoughts that escalate into action and more. These things have always been a part of the human condition but the recent Covid pandemic brought unwelcomed changes to how we interact as a society. Social distancing and lockdowns contributed to a sharp increase in emergency hospital visits due to self harm events.
The time is long past due that the topic of Self Harm has a proper seat at the Mental Health table. The time is long past due for an insightful and experienced voice such as possessed by Agata Borghesan. Also known as, Solitude Skinny Scars.
Agata Borghesan is a collaborative artist, model and author. Born in Mantua , Italy on the 5th of April, 1994. She started exhibiting significant mental illness symptoms in her younger teen years.
Also at this time she realized that being artistically creative was an incredible asset that allowed her to express the violent and negative turmoil within using her abilities as a relief valve of sorts.
While finishing high school she decided to use her artistic nature to promote Mental Health awareness and develope her skills as an advocate for those who have not found their voice.
By creating “SolitudeSkinnyScars -The Show“ Agata is following an obvious and necessary step in her artistic career to increase the scope and reach of her message.
A quick backstory….
At the age of 13 Agata, an average teenager, started cutting herself as a method of coping with life. Quite quickly this behaviour intensified and branched out into other activities that can only be associated with self destruction. What followed was 5 years of excruciating life filled with doctors and hospital stays, tears, pain, panic and questions without answers until.. a diagnosis appeared.
At age18 it was determined she suffered from “Borderline Personality Disorder characterized by extreme self harm behaviour” and her road to recovery and control over her life began. The world of therapy and medications soon became the process by which she fought against an often times unseen and unforgiving enemy.. herself.
At age 25 Agata gathered her thoughts and writings and published her eBook, “20 Years of Sloth”. This seminal document explores aspects of stigma, isolation and the act of self harm from a uniquely experienced point of view. It is her insight into the universality of mental health that we all share at some level.
Now, at 28, Agata has developed strategies, coping mechanisms, routines and philosophies around her situation that allow her to live in relative control of her illness. She has valuable information that needs to be shared.
The Origin and Goal
Agata and Dave crossed paths for the first time in late December of 2019. She being in Italy and he residing in Canada. What started as an online interest in each other’s Instagram posts developed into a conversation around collaborating as fellow artists.
Agata was interested in a way to get her story and message to a wider audience and Dave was looking for the right person and story for his company, Oracle Images, to bring to a wider audience. It didn’t take long to come up with an idea that could satisfy both their requirements.
What followed was 2 years of Pandemic that exposed a significant trend towards self harm brought on by the changes in social structure. Stress, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideations resulted in an increase in emergency hospital visits. Dave and Agata saw a necessity.
The decision was made to produce a stage presentation with a theatrical style. The subject would be Self Harm and tour the show to university and college campuses for the 18-28 young adult demographic.
Along the way, material for a documentary concerning the topic and the process of the work would be gathered. This piece is intended to show at film festivals and to be available as an educational tool.
Current Project Status
March 13, 2023 marked the one year anniversary of the project. Considering the complexity of the topic and the logistical constraints of working with international distances and ever changing technology a great deal has been accomplished.
Immediately all communications became recorded and documented. More than 30, hour long video calls have been logged ranging in scope from intense Self Harm conversation around Agata’s history and development to the mundane planning of such a grand idea as SolitudeSkinnyScars -The Show-.
In October 2022 Agata traveled to Canada for an 11 day work session. This was the first face to face meeting for Dave and Agata and it became immediately apparent that the two, while having very different styles of working, have very compatable personalities when working together. The easy give and take of ideas and willingness to accept each others input and direction made for an intensely creative writing and shooting atmosphere. This session saw the eBook become the 2nd draft of a theatrical script which is now ready to workshop in a performance type space. This period also saw 3 foundational interviews recorded for the documentary piece of the project, as well as significant footage of Agata and Dave working through the process of creating.
After this strong push Agata and Dave both retreated to absorb and process the development of the project. Agata focusing on her move to a new location in Norway to become a university student for the first time, as well as finding therapy options in a new city. Dave preparing for milestone life changes with retiring from his fulltime work and completely altering his living conditions by downsizing and moving to a new province. Big changes for both.
Then in late February 2023, Dave travelled to Italy for 11 days to further deepen his understanding of the overall picture of who Agata is in terms of her real life background. Meeting and informally interviewing her family, friends and her life partner gave him the opportunity to take the character in “20 Years of Sloth” and attach faces and places to the heart of it. Dave attended and shot 2 of Agata’s professional photo shoots during the trip discovering further her abilities as a model and witnessing first hand her working life. Added to the itinerary was the opening of an exhibition of photography dedicated to her experiences of her spending a year in Iceland. It was an ambitious schedule ending in success.
It’s been a year of growth and learning for both Agata and Dave. Developing knowledge that helps define realistic timelines and expectations of progress. And as ever, finding ways to attract funding and partners willing to invest time and expertise to bring this extremely important Self Harm Awareness initiative to life.
To be continued…☀