Collaborate for Change is an project created by Taboo Health to facilitate connections between storytellers and artists with the goal to shine light on racialized groups, topics and experiences. I was matched with writer and mental health advocate, Juanita to create a triptych of free, accessible desktop, mobile and print-ready illustrations for personal use. Note: You will be asked for your email address for your download link.
Here’s Juanita’s writing that inspired my pieces:
When I was a child, I hated myself for feeling. Feelings felt like big electric shocks to my system that I could never control. I longed to control my feelings. I longed to shut them down. I longed for my emotions to stay quiet.
I learnt from a young age that some emotions are good and some are bad. I learned to hold on to happiness and joy. I focused on shutting down and ignoring anger or frustration. I trained myself to suppress my emotions.
Emotions are messages. They are loud messages that demand attention and demand to be understood. Since my emotions were not listened to, they came out in one way or another: Addiction. Overconsumption. Overeating…and the list goes on. It took a point of desperation to get help. It was during this point I was diagnosed with depression as a young adult.
Society can be so fucking cruel. We tell people to shut things off that are a part of who they are. Who we are, isn’t something that can be shut down.
I was tired of hating myself so my new journey to healing started with a new question. How can I make it okay to feel so that feeling isn’t a burden I hate about myself?
Healing started with not wanting to be brand new.
Healing started not wanting to be fixed or someone else.
Healing started with a decision to befriend myself as I am.
Healing started with learning to accept myself as I am.
Healing is a daily commitment to becoming friends with who we are right now.
I choose to validate every single emotion that runs through me. Validation to me means that I remind myself that it is ok to feel and experience what I am feeling.
I validate myself by saying:
- This too belongs.
- Its ok to feel how you feel
- We are all feeling something.
- I love and accept you how you are.
The big electric shocks of emotions still run through me as they did when I was child. Now the difference is I don’t hate myself for having them. I welcome my emotions with open arms and choose to accept them. I choose to accept my pain. I choose to accept my anger. I choose to accept everything. I choose to accept all of me.
Mental health affects all of us. We all breathe. We all feel. Mental health is an invitation for us to accept who we are.