When I first began my journey towards mental wellness, I did so because I was diagnosed as “ill”. My life had become unmanageable, my self image was so distorted, and the story I’d been told and telling for decades was that I was making other people’s lives for difficult and I should stop existing for the sake of others. I was bound to this world because I knew that my suicide would hurt my family, and I was rejected from this world because they couldn’t handle me as I was. I wanted to die, and the only thing keeping me from dying was this little voice inside that said I had a reason to be here. Continue reading “Mental Wellness Education to End Stigma”
I feel like mental illness is really difficult for people to grasp if they’ve never experienced it or if they’ve only experienced something slightly, or in a moment of grief or high stress or situational dis-ease, but not chronic mental illness. Many people will try to see it through their own understanding instead of admit its something beyond their experience or comprehension. Many people will see the expression of my emotion and they’ll relate it to their own and project their history on me, like I am simply making a mistake they’ve made and the answer is so simple. Continue reading “Mental Illness from Within”
Ego is not your enemy. In fact, YOUR ego should be one of your greatest friends–and here is why.
Ego is, at its most fundamental, a survival mechanism. In the old world of hunter/gatherer lifestyles, ego is the fight or flight mechanism which sees trouble and makes you outwardly express your macho vibes through inwardly triggered hormone responses, so you can defeat or run from an enemy which threatens your physical body. Ego is the subconscious, or autopilot, triggered into reaction when you sense danger. Continue reading “In Defense of Your Ego”
In my mind, there has always been a lot going on. It’s weaving together stories, debating itself, deconstructing and reconstructing things, performing intense and almost constant cognitive behavior therapy–spinning in circles, round and around. I struggle with major depression, anxiety and ptsd, but I didn’t know that until a few years ago so before that I was just, circling around to avoid any one thing in particular.
In addition to having a fast mind and a soft heart, I’ve endured some intense trauma–emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse, plus the normal tragedies and happenings of life (privileged as mine may be, they have had a big impact on my sense of self and mental stability as an adult). The things which have always grounded me and helped me cope through abuse and moments of adversity, even before I understood what I was coping with, were acts of creation. Music, singing, sewing, crochet, jewelry making, painting. Even as a small child, my fort-building-game was competing with the best of them. The act of making something out of other things calmed me and brought me back to some unnamable, inexplainable sense of self-truth.
Creating centers me and always has, even when my center is hurting.
In addition to my mental health and abusive history, I have ALWAYS been fat… overweight, obese, plus size–however you’d like to say it. (We all have different preferences. I personally like to turn the hurtful words into empowering ones so–I’m fat and fabulous.) I’ve always struggled with my self esteem for so many reasons, but it all seemed to manifest in self hatred over my weight and my body. When I was younger I desperately wanted to be thin, with big hips. But, I’m fat with small hips and lots of love on the handles. I don’t lose weight easily and I, frankly, have bigger battles than that. Plus, I hated the idea that I needed to change my appearance to feel better in this world. I wanted to accept myself as I was. I knew there was someone to love in here, and she didn’t need to be thin, she needed to be accepted.
In December 2014, after a series of unfortunate events and witnessing a friend’s death, I finishing my Bachelors degree in Opera Performance. Given the chance to breathe, alone, for the first time in my life–I mentally bottomed out. I was lost, confused, hurt, alone, suicidal and terrified. I didn’t know where to go, what to do, how to live or move forward or get out of bed some mornings. Plus, my mental health had been ignored for too long. I had no choice but to deal with my head and the trauma of my past.
I had to begin to get to know and accept my body, my illness, and my strange mind. I needed to switch from a state of resistance to a state of acceptance. I needed life to be just a little bit easier so that I knew it was worth living. So, I dedicated myself to a lifelong journey of self discovery, self love, and healing–a journey I am still on today.
The process of healing was very traumatic in the beginning–as healing usually is. Lost, and desperate, I painted and journaled, wrote music–anything to get through the pain I was reliving. I eventually turned to metaphysics and found my pagan roots in Wicca. This led me to wire wrapping stones and crystals as a meditative practice. From there, the progression into the jewelry I make now was natural.
About two years into that journey, and a year before starting STONED, I began crocheting again for the first time since community college. It felt different though. My mind wasn’t so clouded. I wasn’t so pressured by my perfectionist tendencies and an over-compensating ego telling me my creations weren’t worthy of being completed. (Or at least, when I was burdened by that I could overcome it). I could count stitches, focus on long term projects, and undo mistakes without destroying my motivation by insulting myself into defeat. When I started making clothing, instead of the usual scarves and hats I’d made for years, I began looking through the market–on Etsy and IG– and noticed that there are a lot of people crocheting cute clothes–but usually only for a limited number of sizes. This is an issue I’ve encountered my entire life as a “Plus size” person, and a bigger busted woman. Some of the cutest clothes are only made for thin women, or certain body types. If they are made for bigger women, they are not made with the bigger woman’s body and insecurities and comfort in mind.
I began making things for myself and my friends–who all have a variety of beautiful and diverse bodies and styles and identities. I listened to their insecurities and modified the patterns and the fit so they felt comfortable until I figured out what worked. It came together so effortlessly, I took the hint from the universe and went with it. I finally did something I’d been wanting to do for years–I started an Etsy Shop.
I wanted to make clothing that allowed people to be bold, present, and empowered by their vulnerability. The name STONED has many inspirations. Primarily, it comes from the large line, the totem of spirits who have endured the suffering of oppression long before me–the people whose stories of perseverance and strength get me through my day. Women, men, queers, POC, differently-abled and mentally stigmatized–those who fought and lived and died in another time for me to be here, now, standing on their shoulders and fighting this newer battle… a piece of the same war. A war for money and power. A war against freedom, uniqueness, progress, truth, acceptance, equality and freedom.
Here’s one of my truths–All bodies are beautiful!!!!!
We should all be able to celebrate our selves with unlimited self expression!
I’ve created to cope for so long. Now, I’m creating for me. I’m creating for you. I’m creating to create.
I believe in the ability of handmade items to empower us to be unique, outstanding, and fearless. A hundred people could be making the same type of pieces, but they’d each have their own uniqueness because they are made by an individual human’s hands–not a machine. Every stitch is personalized. In a strong handmade economy, many artists can all be successful with their own audiences–allowing each customer to find a truly unique style instead of buying a shirt that has been mass produced for a million other people in the world. We aren’t all the same, why should our styles be?
Additionally, the expansion of the handmade market is feeding our local, working class economy (putting money in the hands of artists and makers directly instead of into the hands of a large corporate stores with billionaire CEOs who barely paid the artist for their original design before mass producing it). When you support a handmade artist you are supporting their family, their community, their daily life. That money will likely go directly back into the local economy. When you support me, you’re helping me feed myself and my fur baby (a lovely little ESA cat named Embyr) and pay my rent. You’re helping me support other local artists and farmers, since I spend my money at farmer’s markets primarily. Handmade is fiscally, economically, and communally responsible!
I believe in individuals–ordinary humans–and their ability to change the world simply by allowing their true selves to be present and make conscious decisions in it. The ability to be present in a world like ours is dependent upon an empowered sense of self, and a fearless commitment to expression of that self regardless of our socialization. I try to instill some sense of that in every wire I bend and ever stitch I complete in hopes that it will gift some of that magic onto the person who eventually welcomes the garment or piece of jewelry into their life. A world in which we are all fearlessly expressing our personal and vulnerable truth is a world in which we all, eventually, can live free and equal–happy.