First, a disclaimer:
I do not mean to offend anyone and I do not target this post to any one specific business, person or brand, this is just me, a small business owner, thinking out loud about what trends at the moment.
Awareness around mental health problems/issues is so so so very important. There are too many taboos around it, so much shame in it and a lot of lonely misunderstood great people that could have had a different life, if we all were more aware, tolerant and kind...
So - cudos to all people, businesses, brands and organizations that spend their days helping, educating and making it ok to be who you are, no matter what your struggles are.
I myself have issues. I don't know what else to call them. It has been brought to my attention that who I am and how I am today, is mainly a result of trauma from my childhood and teenage years. "Brought to my attention"... What an odd way of saying it. But it is true. For so many years I have been struggling fitting in and also struggling understanding my reactions, feelings, behavior and way of seing myself. I've been thinking I knew this and that about why, and that I was coping ok, but it hit me some weeks ago, after a session with a different kind of therapist.
Different in the sense of not reading out loud from a book, using charts and doing questions 101, but different because she looked at me, heard some words coming out of my mouth, then "heard" all the words coming out in between the lines.
She was on point, almost brutal and looked me in my eyes like no one has ever done before. She didn't suger coat anything, it was clean honest words both hitting me in the stomach and giving me a hug, at the same time.
What was different about this, was the REALIZATION. Not the "you are this way because of that thing" in a feeling sorry kind of way. It was "that behavior is because of that experience" in a wake up and smell the coffee, then get on with your life, kinda way!
Do you get the difference?
Back to what I started this blog post about. Businesses that make and sell products (apparel) with quotes about mental health on them. And about people buying them. As the disclaimer said up at the beginning, I am not suggesting this is just to make money, but I am almost suggestion some of them don't know what real mental issues is about. It is not getting anxious going to the public library, wanting to stay away from people or feeling heat flashes when people get to close or talk directly to you. Those things are most of the time, not mental issues, they are just normal reactions in new or uncomfortable situations, or thoughts being over active in your head.
Mental issues is a different kind of thing. It is more like a childhood trauma acting up inside you without you knowing that it is, why it is and also a lot of times without you even knowing you had a trauma that affected you in some way.
I still do not remember the details. Some times when I am half awake or half asleep, I see glimpses of situations, but I do not remember much about them. They were situations no child, or adult for that matter, should have to experience. They were unwanted and they gave a strong sense of not being able to set boundaries or be heard at all.
Enough about that. My point is: Yes we need more awareness around mental health, BUT do the merch sold all over the world help those they are ment to help, or is it more like a thing we all understand so well, but not really understand at all? Is it helping, or is it in fact making the distance for those of us with untreated trauma even bigger, because the general understanding of it is brought to a level above surface, not deep down inside it?
I would never wear a sweater that says ANXIOUS, MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS or any of those words. Because that would expose the damaged inner child in me I so not want people to know. The inner child in me I myself do not want to know. The one I am afraid to meet in my half awake or half asleep state of mind.
It would also put a label on me. Well, not a label, but a neon sign. People with real mental health issues do not want that attention. Most don't anyway.
So - my merch don't flash it. All I want to do, is tell you I understand. I really do.
Sometimes the words on my apparel is funny, sarcastic or almost "rude", but between the lines I hope you know I understand. And when wearing it, I hope you feel the hug I am giving you. And then, by wearing it, I hope some people around you know you understand.
The first sweater says just that:
NOTE: I hope you read this knowing I am not a fruit basket, I have not gone of the rails, I am not a maniac or flat out crazy. I am just a normal person with a series of events from childhood and teen years that has done a number on me, and I am trying to help myself to a better life, maybe, hopefully, helping you to a better life.