Vulnerability is power.
An ironic statement to most, but not to the team at The Sad Collective. It's extremely difficult, to say the least, to be honest with oneself let alone be open and honest with others. I know this from personal experience, and I'm pretty confident most of you feel the same way. So how do we fix this? How do we restructure this mindset that vulnerability is a weakness? Just under a year ago, NVSN wanted to encourage the idea of sharing through anonymity with the Journal, found here. Our goal was to give members of the community a safe place to share their stories, open up and still maintain their privacy.
The Sad Collective has created an incredible platform in support of mental health, which is why I was super excited that we had the chance to sit down and chat about our collective goals and visions. They've done a really great job at becoming a platform for people to share their experiences. "I want to build the community. I also would love to take it offline and give people the forum to connect in person. At some point I think we’d also love to create products." said co-founder, Vasiliki. The mental health conversation has gained momentum over the past year and it’s really encouraging to see another community growing over there at The Sad Collective.
I enjoyed talking to Vasiliki because it reminded me of the power of passion. It reminded me that we can use creativity not only as a coping method, but a way to help others. It reminded me that we’re not alone and working together is more productive than working through things alone.
"Meghan and I were colleagues at a market research firm and we weren’t feeling creatively fulfilled in our roles there because we’d always wanted to write and tell stories. We were also going through break-ups at the same time, so we were feeling hurt and confused and emotionally damaged. It seemed like the perfect time to team up and distract ourselves with a creative project. Starting The Sad Collective was really cathartic for me, because I had all these feelings and no acceptable place to put them. I started noticing how feelings are really restricted and watered down in our day to day lives, even with our closest friends, sometimes. I wanted to be able to create something that allowed for the unabashed expression of emotion, whether it’s happy, sad, whatever. We police our emotions too much. It’s unhealthy.”
It’s unhealthy. That’s what I want to emphasize on this post. When we think of healthy choices we often think of having a salad instead of nuggets; or taking the stairs instead of the elevator; or even walking to the fridge instead of rolling to it (I can’t be the only one that does that). Mental health is not strictly defined as the absence of depression, anxiety, OCD, or any other disorder. It also depends on one’s ability to enjoy their day to day lives, bounce back after difficult experiences, feel safe and secure and quite importantly, one’s ability to achieve balance. Although my depression hasn’t resurfaced in about a year, I am confident in saying that preserving my mental health is a day to day process. It’s work, constant work and ignorance to it is not the answer, trust me.
One method that really helped me was engaging in something that gave me a sense of purpose, which happened to be the Mental Health Movement. It inspired me to start this company, practice self-expression, and most importantly, it inspired me to listen non-judgmentally. When I asked Vasiliki what offered her that sense of purpose, it was clear that the mental health movement had the same effect on her.
“The movement is personal to me because I’ve experienced mental illness in my family, and I think it’s something that’s underrepresented in popular culture, in politics and government, in society at large. But it’s also important because whether or not you have a mental illness, we all have mental health. It’s universal. And I don’t think we’re well equipped to take care of ourselves in that regard. I don’t think we’ve been given the tools or the opportunity to take care of our minds the way we take care of our bodies.” said Vasiliki.
Without a doubt, NVSN and The Sad Collective are both determined to progress this movement. We strive to do so via education, self-expression tools such as the Journal and The Sad Collective's Aunt Agony, and of course, more and more awareness.
I encourage you all to check out The Sad Collective and follow along on Instagram as well. We look forward to working side by side in pursuit of our collective goals :).
Written by: Naim