I started blogging during psychiatry residency training a few years ago not only because I needed a creative outlet, but also because I felt lonely and isolated living in a new town without an established support system. I initially coped by laying on the couch watching excessive amounts of television, but then the idea to start a blog popped up in my mind. Since I rarely shared my feelings with colleagues and supervisors, imagine how embarrassed I felt when my medical director told me that he read my blog! He said that he learned far more about me within minutes of reading a few blog posts compared to the last few months since I joined their program. Since I never felt comfortable enough to verbalize my thoughts nor struggles, I realized that my writing provided a necessary outlet of expression. Over time (through my training and participating in both group and individual psychotherapy), I let down my guard, however, it’s still a significant work-in-progress (ask the members in my current group therapy cohort). However, my experience allows me to empathize with my patients, especially when they describe the difficulties of discussing their issues with others.
The purpose of my blog has been to create an openness to discuss mental health, so I was excited when I came across the conscious clothing line, Wear Your Label, which shares a congruent mission: to create conversations around mental health and ultimately end the stigma. Each garment creates a sense of connection and empowerment by emphasizing positive messages in each piece. For example, their “Stuggle vs. Strength” tee (worn in photo) highlights the co-existence of both strength and struggle, for, the “most valiant strength develops through times of struggle.”
Many organizations, advocates, social media forums, etc, are rising with the same goals in mind of providing support, education, and resources to prioritize mental health. However, each one of us can contribute to this goal simply by opening up about our own individual struggles. That way, none of us ever have to feel alone.