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Healing through ink: N.S. woman finds strength in country song lyrics tattooed on leg

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N.S. woman finds strength in song lyrics tattooed on leg
WATCH: A Nova Scotia woman battling mental illness has found peace in the lyrics of a popular country song. As Shelley Steeves reports, she says it motivated her to seek help and now the tattooed lyrics on her body are helping to heal her heart – Jul 5, 2023

A Nova Scotia woman battling mental illness has found comfort in the lyrics of a popular country song that she now has permanently tattooed on her body as a means of healing.

Kristina Affleck of Pictou Landing said she has faced severe anxiety and depression since experiencing a sexual assault at the age of 18. Following the ordeal, she said she had been avoiding confronting her emotions.

“I didn’t want to deal with it. It was too fresh and too raw, and I did everything I could to go on with life as normal,” said Affleck.

About three years ago, the deeply rooted trauma resurfaced, and Affleck, now 37, said that her mental health struggles reached an all-time low.

“My mental health kept deteriorating, and it was just getting worse and worse,” she said.

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Everything changed when she heard the song Starting Over by country singer Chris Stapleton. The lyrics, she said, spoke to her heart and she found the strength to seek help.

“The following day, I contacted my therapist and restarted therapy twice a week. I also started working out, as taking care of my physical health became a crucial part of my mental health,” said Affleck.

Affleck said she decided to tattoo the song’s entire lyrics on her thigh, which include the quote, “Some days we will look back and smile and know it was worth every mile,” to serve as a permanent source of encouragement and healing.

Affleck’s tattoo artist, Kustom Kaos Tattoo Studio owner Dale Boudreau, said he shares her battles with mental illness and the two have bonded over their shared experiences. He said inking “healing” tattoos is a privilege.

“The important ones to me are the ones that help people heal and help with their mental health,” said Boudreau.

Affleck said it “still feels very lonely when you are going through that journey because it is a battle against your own mind.”

In an effort to help others feel more comfortable discussing their mental health battles, Affleck is sharing her story on social media.

“I wanted someone to feel less like I felt in those moments,” she said.

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Affleck acknowledges that she still has bad days, and said her tattoo serves as a constant reminder that she can always “start over,” regardless of her circumstances.

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