motivating giraffe illustrations. One reads 'it's time to get back up' with pig offering a knighted giraffe his sword. The other features giraffe in a field with butterflies captioned "there is still hope."

Penny Redshaw Creates Motivating Giraffe to Illustrate Mental Illness and Connect With Others

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Penny Redshaw, an artist from Australia, wants to help those living with mental illnesses feel less alone. Her Instagram account, Motivating Giraffe, features posts about a giraffe who struggles with mental illness and his pig friend who supports him.

2016 #art #illustration #cartoon #drawing #inspiration #motivation #friendship #love #quotes

A post shared by Motivating Giraffe (@motivating_giraffe) on

At the time Redshaw started her account, she said she was “quite mentally unwell,” spending most of her time in her bedroom with the lights off and curtains drawn. Redshaw began doodling to pass the time and eventually conceptualized the giraffe account to reconnect with the real world in a way she said she “desperately needed.”

Most of the illustrations are inspired by people in Redshaw’s life — either through things they say to her or things she wishes she could say to them. While some drawings are bright and cheerful, others are somber and sad. “I try not to be disingenuous,” Redshaw said, “in that it’s impossible to make every illustration a hopeful and positive one because nobody feels that way all the time, even cartoon giraffes.”

#art #illustration #cartoon #drawing #inspiration #motivation #quotes #hope #cute #instaart

A post shared by Motivating Giraffe (@motivating_giraffe) on

While Redshaw says her favorite piece changes about once a week, her current pick is a hopeful piece featuring a quote from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” “I really like the way the artwork came together but the words are the special thing to me,” Redshaw told The Mighty. “I know so many people who are lights and I don’t think they realize it. It’s nice to be told that you are significant and it’s important to be able to say it to others.”

#art #illustration #cartoon #drawing ##inspiration #motivation #quotes #motivationmonday #hope #love #friendship

A post shared by Motivating Giraffe (@motivating_giraffe) on

Redshaw hopes that those following Motivating Giraffe can see the account’s simple messages for what they are. “You can do this,” she said. “It’s okay to try again tomorrow. I am here for you. We will get through these things together.”

Redshaw also encourages others to use art and other passions as a creative outlet for expression. “If you find something that helps you…try not to listen to those who will say these things are not worth your time or energy,” she added. “The world desperately needs creators and artists and people who can put colors on canvas and say ‘This is me.’”

Not only does Motivating Giraffe inspire others, but as its creator, Redshaw says the account has given her more confidence. “I found my voice in this project, and mostly I try to be the kind of person I hope to meet in others,” Redshaw said. ”This includes hard conversations about mental health but it also includes encouraging strangers who might need it, joking with retail staff who are having a long day and singing along to the happy birthday song to people in restaurants.”

To see more of Redshaw’s work, follow Motivating Giraffe on Instagram.

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Keep Mental Health on Your Mind This Summer With These Essentials

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Summer’s here, but when you have a mental illness, “summer break” doesn’t always mean getting a break from your symptoms. Whether you have an eating disorder, struggle with self-harm, depression or another mental health challenge, we know summer isn’t always easy for everyone.

So if you’re looking for fun ways to spread mental health awareness this summer (while supporting some great causes), we compiled a list of awesome companies and nonprofits that have created mental health-related products perfect for summertime. Whether you are soaking up the sun or staying inside to beat the heat, we hope this list can help you keep your recovery at the forefront.

1. To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA)

The mission of To Write Love on Her Arms is to provide hope, support and resources to individuals struggling with addiction, depression, suicide and self-harm. Bearing inspirational messages about self-worth and recovery, TWLOHA’s clothing and accessories are a must for this summer season when you want to remind yourself and others that hope is real.

Our picks: Enough Too Dip-Dye Tank ($24.00) and Jones Baseball Cap ($20.00)

TWLOHA tank and hat

2. Emily McDowell Studio

You may have heard of Emily McDowell’s designs from reading about her Everyday Bravery pins that celebrate all of life’s achievements. If you are looking for small beach accessories that have a mental health twist, look no further!

Our picks: Future Therapist Journal ($18.00) Beach Ladies Canvas Pouch ($18.00)

emilymcdowell journal and pouch

3. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

Summertime, often branded by the media as “swimsuit season,” can be an especially triggering time for someone in eating disorder recovery. NEDA, the leading nonprofit in the field of eating disorders, has you covered for your next trip to the beach. With their new beach bag and towel, NEDA is helping folks reclaim the beach with eating disorder recovery in mind.

Our picks: Beach Bag ($30.00) and “Hello Sunshine!” Beach Towel ($35.00)

NEDA beach bag and towel

 4. Schizophrenic.NYC

Created by Michelle Hammer, a schizophrenic woman, Schizophrenic.NYC is a line of clothing and accessories dedicated to benefitting the mental health community. Hammer donates a percentage of Schizophrenic.NYC’s proceeds to mental health charities in New York, so not only will you look good, you’ll also feel good for supporting mental health advocacy efforts.

Our picks: “IT’S NOT A DELUSION” PillBox ($12.00) and Blue Ink on Black Tri Blend Tank ($25.00)

schizophrenic.nyc pill box and tank

5. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

As a leader in suicide prevention advocacy, AFSP encourages everyday heroes to take action and “be the voice” for suicide prevention. With these summer-friendly products, you too can be the voice!

Our picks: Be the Voice Water Bottle ($5.00), Be the Voice Temporary Tattoo ($5.00) and Be the Voice Tank ($15.00)

afsp


6. Sad Ghosts Club

The Sad Ghost Club, created by Lize Meddings and Laura Cox, began as a series of mental health-inspired comics. Now, the store includes clothing, accessories and stationery — including some awesome postcards and tote bags you can take with you on all your summer adventures.

Our picks: Still Growing Postcard Pack ($5.60) and Drawstring Tote Bag ($11.20)

sad ghosts club postcards and drawstring bag

7. Project HEAL

Project HEAL, a nonprofit devoted to helping people struggling with eating disorders, has some awesome products to support eating disorder recovery this summer. When the sun sets and the beach gets chilly, throw on their signature “Not Photoshopped” long-sleeve to promote body positivity and self-love.

Our picks: “Not Photoshopped” Long-Sleeve Shirt ($28.00) and “Perfectly Imperfect” Bracelet ($5.00)

project heal bracelet and tee

8. Motivational Tattoos

It’s definitely not only Lana Del Rey who experiences “Summertime Sadness.” So this summer, in addition to their main tattoo products, grab a Motivational Tattoo phone charm or pack of stickers to remind yourself you are enough on hard mental health days.

Our picks: Self-Care Mobile Phone Charm ($5.04) and Self-Care Reward Stickers ($4.42)

motivationaltattoos

9. TheLatestKate 

If you are looking for some breezy attire for the hot summer, artist Kate Allan has a bunch of mental health-oriented clothing and accessory options. Allan draws comics for people living with anxiety and depression, usually with cute animals bearing words of wisdom!

Our picks: Anxiety Lies” Dress ($65.00), “The Part Where You’re a Badass” Tote ($19.92)  and “Progress is Still Progress” Tank ($32.00)

thelatestkate dress, bag and shirt

10. Active Minds

Active Minds is a nonprofit dedicated to changing the conversation around mental health on college campuses. Show the world you are a #stigmafighter with their awesome summer tank and tote bag!

Our picks: Active Minds Tote Bag ($15.00) and #Stigmafighter Tank ($20.00)

active minds tote and stigma fighter tank


Keep Mental Health on Your Mind This Summer With These Essentials
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What I Wish People Knew About Having Extended Time on the SAT

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I want to have extended time on the SAT.

Why do the have extended time on the SAT?

What can I do to get extended time on the SAT?

I want extended time on the SAT just like you do.

These are comments I hear often at school. It’s junior year and the SAT is approaching. They are probably wondering why I have extended time and they don’t.

Here is the thing:

How do I tell you that I have a mental illness? A mental illness that makes my brain work much differently than yours.

How do I tell you that I have to take medicine every day in order to function like a “normal” student, making it seem like my brain is “just like yours?”

How do I tell you that sometimes I am physically present in class but my mind is usually somewhere else and it’s really hard for me to actually listen to what the teacher is saying?

How do I tell you that when I try to understand something, my brain doesn’t seem to register it, so I have to keep trying until my mind decides to turn on it’s learning settings?

How do I tell you that while I’m reading something, my mind wanders off so I forget everything I just read and I have to read it 20 more times in order to understand what I am actually reading?

How do I tell you that when I take a test my mind decides to turn itself off and go blank? And I know that I know all the material on the test, yet my mind is still blank, so I begin staring at the people around me who seem to know exactly what they are doing when I don’t.

How do I tell you that every time I take a test I have this pressure to prove that I know something and to do it perfectly because nothing ever seems to be good enough?

How do I tell you that all of these things happen when I am taking the SAT, making it impossible for me to finish on time?

How do I tell you that while you are wishing you had extended time I am wishing that my brain worked just like yours and I wouldn’t need the extended time?

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via leekhoailang

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18 Infuriating Examples of Mental Illness-Shaming No One Should Go Through

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“End the stigma of mental illness” is a phrase we hear again and again. But what does that mean exactly, and how does this “stigma” affect those who experience it? The word stigma technically means a mark of shame, and in the context of mental illness advocacy, we mean the unfair mark of shame others assign to us when it’s revealed we live with different mental health conditions or show symptoms. It can also be shame we assign to ourselves when we feel like there’s something wrong with how our brains work, and decide to keep hidden from others. 

But this idea of “ending the stigma” only scratches the surface of the real shame, microaggressions and acts of discrimination people who live with mental illnesses sometimes face. To take the vagueness out of the conversation around mental health, we wanted to gather some examples of modern day mental-illness shaming to see what kind of work still needs to be done.

People in our community provided real-life examples, but we don’t want the conversation to stop here. Tell your story in the comments, or submit to us and tell us about a time you were shamed because of your mental health, and a specific way you think the problem could be fixed.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “Ten years ago, I was having gallbladder attacks (they had not been diagnosed as that yet, but that’s what they were). During a particularly bad one, I went to the emergency room… When the doctor came in, he didn’t greet me in any way or talk to me about what had brought me in that day. Instead, he shoved a clipboard chart in my face and barked, ‘What are these meds for?’ pointing to a list of my psychiatric medications (I was on several at the time). Startled, I hesitantly pointed to each medicine, answering, ‘That one is for depression, that one is for anxiety, and those are for psychotic features.’ He scoffed. ‘Psychotic features? What’s the problem? What’s wrong with you?’ He was getting louder at that point, and his wording and tone took me by surprise, so it was taking me a moment to answer. Apparently this frustrated him, so he shouted closer to my face than I was comfortable with, ‘What’s the diagnosis?’ Ashamed and horrified at that point, knowing other people could hear him, I looked down at my lap, tears in my eyes and my cheeks burning with embarrassment, and whispered, ‘Schizophrenia.’ The doctor didn’t say another word and left the room… To this day, thinking about this brings tears to my eyes and a fist of rage into my chest. I can still feel the ugly, horrible shame I felt that day. I felt less than human under that doctor’s gaze. This is why I’m so open about my mental health (and mental illness in general) now. Because awareness is how stigma ends. I should never have to feel ashamed like that again. Ever. And neither should anyone else.” — Monica M.

2. “I worked for a government department, and I broke my leg and needed time off work, about seven months in total. I was given the time off and my job was held open for me, no questions asked. A few years later I was gang raped and needed time off to recover, and my managers made it very difficult to the point I was forced to resign because ‘my recovery had no time frame.’ When I asked about why it wasn’t an issue when I broke my leg but it is with my mental health I was told that ’people can physically see a broken leg but they can’t see mental injury so it is not a good look for the department.’” — Kirstie O.

3. “I was at the hospital trying to get admitted. The social worker looked at my chart, saw BPD (borderline personality disorder) and automatically thought I was there to seek attention. I tried to explain that I had a plan and intent to take my own life, and she dismissed it. I got discharged. So, I called my therapist’s office’s on-call number and they told me to go back to the hospital. I went and the social worker was so mad. She said there was no way she was going to admit someone who wasn’t an imminent threat to herself. She discharged me again. I ended up overdosing that night and was hospitalized for a week.” — Joselyne S.

4. “My old boss went through my purse and found my meds and looked them up and then told everyone at work what I take and why. And then they all started treating me poorly until I couldn’t take it anymore and quit.” — Alyse W.

5. “I was out shopping with my friends, and afterwards while out to dinner, one of the moms told me I was ‘too depressing to be around.’ It really messed with me and made me internalize my depression and feel like the world would be better without me more than I already did. I was only in eighth grade. I’m an adult now, and it still hurts.” — Kelsey M.

6. “To put it simply — I am a skin picker (amongst other disorders). A few years back I was in a terrible state of depression and anxiety and was admitted to hospital. While in reception, I was seen to by a (male) nurse who was getting all my details and doing my admission before seeing a doctor. He didn’t even look up from his folder and said, ‘So when was the last time you used?’ I said, ‘Used what?’ He replied, ‘Used meth, ice, we’re not blind, girlie.’ I said, ’I pick my skin, it’s an OCD/anxiety problem.’ He then started pulling up my sleeves, my pants, taking my shoes off… Looking for injection marks. I curled up into a ball on my seat and told him him I do not do drugs. I was then put into an isolation room for being ‘belligerent.’” — Amy B.

7. “I tried to go to a concert with some co-workers years ago, but I had an anxiety attack instead. So one of them drove me to my car. Afterwards they never asked me how I was and never invited me anywhere again. That really hurt.” — Deb B.

8. “I am a student at a state university, and I have accommodations because of my mental illnesses so I can hopefully perform at the same level as other students. One of my accommodations is a need for a separate testing environment to avoid a stressor that causes extreme panic attacks that will land me in the hospital for a day or two. Every semester I run into at least one professor who will tell me I should at least try to take the tests in the classroom and disregard most of my accommodations. Last semester I had several professors do this. One even went so far as to flat out deny my accommodations and when pressured, admitted to the department chair they didn’t like people who have accommodations because it meant they had to follow someone else’s rules (i.e. student disability services). The head of student disability services had to contact the professor and force them to follow my accommodations, but I ended up having to drop the class due to the sheer number of panic attacks that were landing me in the hospital weekly.” — Ashley D.

9. “An old live-in landlord saw my antidepressants on the bedside table in my room (God knows why he was in there anyway). Then confronted me and said, ‘I’m uncomfortable living with someone who is mentally ill. Get out.’ That was a lovely experience…” — Kahla D.

10. “Anytime you disagree with someone who knows about your mental illness, the first thing out of their mouth is, “Oh my God, are you off your meds?” or “I think you need new meds.” It’s infuriating. I already feel so out of place as it is; someone who supposedly loves you should never ever react this way!” — Jennifer Leal

11. “A post of mine about mental illness went viral (36,000 shares, featured on The Mighty and several national newspapers). But a lot of people went onto my profile and saw I worked as a children’s entertainer and contacted my work and told them they didn’t want someone like me near their kids. I was fired. [My boss] told me she couldn’t have someone like me near kids in case I thought one turned into a monster and I killed them. I have schizoaffective disorder, and I can assure you I would never work if I was not feeling well… This story actually has a happy ending though. After I told Facebook I had lost my job because of my mental health, I received five or six job offers from rival companies.” — Sophie E.

12. “One time I went into a panic attack in front of someone, and they told me I’m ‘crazy’ and should be ‘locked up.’” — Ash B.

13. “‘Watch out, she might bring a gun in and shoot up the place!’ Said by my old boss, in front of me, a co-worker and a client.” — Lish O.

14. “I was called a ‘coward’ by a teacher when I told her I had panic attacks.” — Sil E.

15. “I’m a schizophrenic and I have PTSD. I can see the different looks I get when people find out about it… and they start treating me differently like I’m a walking bomb or someone who’s ready to go on a bloody rampage. It hurts me so much because I’m here struggling to find the right treatment while they accuse me of being a monster.” — Ayu S.

16. “I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder my senior year of high school. And some of the kids I’ve been in school with since kindergarten avoided me. Later I found out they thought they could ‘catch’ bipolar disorder from me like you ‘catch’ a cold.” — Lorissa J.

17. “I’m bipolar type II. I tried to go on a mission trip during a summer in college and the guy made me jump through so many hoops… I had to get a letter from my therapist saying I was stable, and even after that he rejected me and told me it would be the safest option for everyone if I just didn’t go.” — Laura S.

18. “Not me, but my husband. We wanted to host a foreign exchange student but were denied because my husband has had one, just one, hospitalization for 24 hours because he needed an emergency med adjustment. Now he has been stable for a year and we keep getting denied from every single exchange program because of it. What’s worse is he is a nurse and I am a mental health counselor.” — Kayla M.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.


18 Examples of Mental Illness Shaming No One Should Have to Go Through
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Katy Perry Livestreamed Her Therapy Session With Dr. Siri Singh for Witness World Wide

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One of the hardest parts of therapy is showing up. If you are new to therapy and don’t know what to expect, the idea of sitting in an unfamiliar room and telling a stranger personal things about your life can be daunting. To help people get over the hump and demystify therapy, Katy Perry livestreamed her therapy session with Dr. Siri Sat Nam Singh for Witness World Wide.

“I have been in therapy for five years,” Perry shared as part of the livestream, “and, well, it’s changed my life… Everybody’s like, ‘I could never tell, you know, my deepest darkest secrets to anyone,’ and we like swallow them, we keep them and they become petrified, and actually, the things that you fear — or whatever your secrets are — that’s why therapy is amazing.”

During the livestream Perry discussed the differences between herself, Katherine Hudson, and her celebrity persona, Katy Perry. She also spoke about her family, her love life, appearing authentic on social media and suicidal thoughts she’s experienced.

“I wrote a song about it,” Perry said of her suicidal ideations and how songwriting helps her cope. “It’s hard because I feel ashamed that I would have those thoughts, feel that low and that depressed.”

Perry said she wants people to see she has struggles just like everyone else. “That’s the whole point of this whole thing,” she said. “If people can see that, at the end of the day, I’m just like them, then they can dream just as big.”

Fans of the star and others tuning into her livestream thanked the singer for her honesty.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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'We Are Not Who You Think We Are': A Poem About Psychiatric Hospitalization

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My name is Eileen, I am currently 18 and I have spent almost a year of my life in psychiatric hospitalization. This is a poem I wrote about a year ago, during my nine-month hospital stay, about some of the people I have met and the friends I have made during that time.

When you say the words “psychiatric hospital,” we often picture a sterile, white environment with locked doors and screaming patients. Yes, that sometimes is the case, and yes, I have previously been one of those screaming patients, but I have also been a friend, a singer, a dancer and a student. All within those same four white walls.

You see, there is so much more to psychiatric hospitalization than medication and mindfulness – there is friendship, vulnerability, so much support and yes, there are happy moments. Sitting in the communal area with friends just being silly, playing “Just Dance” on the Wii for hours on end, bringing in a guitar and singing, making hot chocolates and doing jigsaws together. It may be a sterile and cold environment, but it is us, the patients, who come together and make it our home, make it warm, friendly, comforting and most importantly, bearable. Without the companionship of my fellow patients, I have no idea how I would have made it through my months in the hospital.

Here are the words to the poem:

My friends and I live on a supermarket shelf

Inside jars tins and boxes our labels announcing that we are

50 percent depressed, 30 percent psychotic, 20 percent suicidal

100 percent mentally ill, check the lid for the “best before” date

And although we live under lock and key

My friends are the bravest people you’ll ever meet

We may be shattered but that doesn’t mean

That we can’t still gleam

In the sunlight

Tarnished silver still shines

In the right light

And so do we

The pain may be constant but we are not

Always screaming, crying, shouting

Hitting, kicking, throwing

Pulling, pushing, scratching, scarring

Bleeding.

We are not wrong because we “malfunction”

Because we missed the right junction

In our lives

Why should we be cast aside for the mess

In our minds which could be tidied

Up with the sweep of a brush or failing that,

Some strong soap and elbow grease?

Get down on your knees

And scrub.

My friends and I, we may be partners in illness but we are partners

In crime

We laugh and we dance and it’s about time

We were recognized

As people.

Not as symptoms or fears

But as kids who lost a couple of years

To illness and hurt but that doesn’t mean this defines us or makes us broken

Or at least not irreparable.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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