Since I have just completed my undergraduate degree I can tell you that school is often a big source of stress, anxiety and over all a challenge on the mind and spirit. I know this because I have spent many nights hunched over my laptop trying to meet a deadline and sat with friends while we studied for exams until our brains froze. I have had friends over the years who have been open about their mental health, and this is truly the best for them and for our community. The more we are open to conversation, the more we are able to help and heal from our struggles. I learned rather quickly in University that I wasn’t always going to get the best grades or have the smartest answer in class. This was challenging for me. I never felt like I was the smartest person in the room ever in school, but I’ve certainly learned a thing or two now and am passionate about particular subjects.
Learning and accepting that you aren’t always going to get an A is hard and frustrating. But, it’s also just as hard to write that essay and find motivation to do well when it seems like everyone else around you is smarter or prettier or has better friends. I often compared myself to classmates and wished I could be like them because they had it all together. Or at least I thought.
See that’s the thing that people forget, we are all going through our own challenges, especially in university. I think if we were more inviting to open conversations about mental health we would all grow and feel much more comfortable in our own skin.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner and creator behind Own Your Stigma, a clothing company which supports mental health awareness and initiatives. The creator specifically chose clothing to connect with youth and promote conversations on mental health. The more we continue to talk about our fears and lives the more we will be able to find common ground and hopefully see more individuals getting the help they need. Own Your Stigma is supported internationally, with most sales coming from Florida, California and Australia you’re going to cross paths with someone wearing these clothes in no time!
Not only does the owner run the apparel site but also an excellent Instagram to promote mental health conversations and mindfulness. I truly love their Instagram and often share their posts on my own page so you should seriously consider checking them out! With over 10,000 followers you will be joining a great community and maybe even spark some conversations yourself.
The original design “Coffee, Cats and Mental Health” sparked a conversation between the owner with a stranger in a restaurant. This conversation was a vulnerable one which saw a stranger sharing their story with our creator, this inspired them to create a larger brand of clothing to continue this kind of sharing. When we trust one another and are able to share our stories we truly do make an impact on one another. Had this person not spoken to our creator we may not have this amazing company today.
Own Your Stigma directly donates 15% of their profits to the LOST Foundation in Hamilton. LOST stands for living outside suffering and trauma. I am so amazed by this organized who is committed to changing how we see and understand mental illness. The owner said, “I love supporting organizations which directly affect the community I’m living in.” I’m so happy to see one local business helping another in the area I live in! It’s great to see that money is benefiting so many people just around the corner from me. When we create a better community in our area we are then able to create a more positive future and local region.
I love this ability to create a feeling of connection and community when I wear my sweater “Coffee, Dogs and Mental Health”. The sweater is so comfortable and just an absolute great way to represent and accept vulnerability with oneself and others. It’s okay, not to be okay. It’s okay to be worried about your body or what people think of you. It’s okay to seek out therapy, or medication. And it’s okay not to do that. Everyone heals and grows in their own way and that’s so true of this company’s message “Own Your Stigma”. There is no better way to signify the impact a shirt can have on someone. I remember years ago on a vacation in Florida someone was wearing a “To Write Love on Her Arms” shirt and that brought a new subject into my world – mental health. Humans by nature strive in community so let’s continue to make a better world and open our arms to anyone struggling with mental health.
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If you don’t find something you love or you wish to place a custom order with your own slogan, have no fear, you can definitely do that! Some of my favourites are “Coffee, dogs and hockey” and “Muscles, yoga and mental health” and “all bodies are good bodies”