It was the events surrounding the inhumane killing of George Floyd that first sparked the idea of Faid. Fade hate. Fade injustice. Fade Excuses. Starting with the thought that if people just took the time to talk to each other more and develop an understanding and empathy for those outside comfort zones, then maybe there would be a little less fear, less judgement and less intolerance. I also wanted to support a charity that was a reputable organization doing notable work in the area of mental health research and awareness.
Enter the realization that a global pandemic was upon us. (Who saw that coming?) Life as we knew it changed in an instant. As an educator, I spent days and nights relearning my career enabling me to deliver my content remotely. I tossed this passion project to the back burner, although it never stopped burning in my mind. Once my vision was clearly defined, I taught myself what I needed to know to launch FaidClothing.
I call the mental anguish I see people grappling with through these difficult times "The Paper Mache effect." Our exteriors are being layered and layered with stressors coming at us fast and furiously from all angles. You don't feel the weight of each individual layer as they are added on, but eventually they become burdensome. The layers harden, and left inside is an empty shell. All the while the exterior is expected to remain painted and pretty while it gets beaten down over and over again like a piñata on the verge of breaking. I was taken aback by the stories people were telling me about wearing teeth guards at night because of the damage they were doing to themselves unconsciously grinding their teeth from stress while trying to sleep. Our work places talk about "self care" as they hand us work loads that will ensure self care is an impossibility and survival becomes the goal. Thankfully we have those teeth guards to keep us smiling! On that note, toxic positivity is also a thing and a very unhealthy one. Another topic for the mental health discussion.
I was well into adulthood when I was diagnosed with PTSD. Something I never considered, after all, I never went to war. But the war I fought was internal. No one could see it. No one would ever know it was there. My exterior looked happy, confident and accomplished. The interior however, felt like a constant flow of negative energy racing through my veins that needed to be reigned in like a race horse being held back by it's experienced jockey. You learn to function in spite of it. Non-Combatant PTSD. That too is a thing. And I suspect it's much more widespread than you might imagine. Mine came from years of sustained childhood trauma. I recall being kept home from school one day and I wasn't sure why until I caught a glimpse of my face in a department store mirror. There was a well defined hand print on my face swollen and red from the non-stop slapping of it the night before. I couldn't understand why no one who saw me said anything. Today there would at least be an investigation! The ongoing trauma I experienced was not at the hand of some evil monster. It was at the hand of someone who needed help. He didn't even know what he was doing when he was punching in walls or biting himself to keep from hitting my sister over the head with a crowbar because the dog got out. It was a violent explosion of temporary insanity, an epileptic rage that came on like the flip of a switch. On one side of the switch was a raging monster that had me fearing for my life. On the other side was a loving caring father who had no idea he was doing any of it. I was paralyzed between two worlds and only became truly free upon his passing.
I just read a horrific news story about a man who killed himself and his 9 year old son. The story said he had "mental health issues that were never treated." That is unacceptable. Mental health needs to be as important as our physical health and we should have easy, affordable access to treatment. Without sigma. Without judgement. Tragedies like this can be prevented if we decide we care enough.
We all have a story, it's how you script it that makes a difference. If you have a story you are compelled to share post it on the "Your Story" page. It could be the first step of freeing yourself while helping someone else know they are not alone.