Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
This blog post is an exciting one for me to write about because it is going to be all about our 2021 Love-Brain Halloween Collection! This has been a long awaited collection on our end because we actually started coming up with the inspiration behind these in June-yes that’s right y’all- JUNE. We knew that every year it seems as though the holidays get pushed up closer and closer to the summer and we wanted to be ready. When we talk about merchandising, the last week of August is generally a time when school supplies are switched out for all things fall and Halloween. We wanted to keep up and so we started our process super early. Something that I have been learning, working on, and developing is my new skill set for Photoshop and Illustrator. If I have any graphic design friends on here, you know just how difficult these softwares are to use for a beginner and they take years and years of practice to master. Since working at my new job, I have been fully thrown into the wizarding world of Adobe. I ended up even taking two online courses about all the features and how you use both Illustrator and Photoshop. I am still very much a beginner but am becoming more and more advanced the more I practice and play. I wanted our Halloween designs to be some of the best designs we have ever made and I knew that in order to achieve that, I would have to use these platforms. I used Illustrator for the majority of it and I cannot tell you how proud I am of these designs. They are everything I wanted and more and I did it all by myself (minus one digital photo...shhh). Both of these designs took about a week to construct with many revisions until I was finally happy with the way they looked.
In order to understand our vision, there are a couple things I want to disclose. I was a bit nervous making these designs because of the stigma around mental health. As you all know, our whole goal is to end the stigma against mental health. I was worried, however, that with the design vision I had in mind, it may get misconstrued. The last thing that I wanted anyone to take away from this design is that people with disorders are scary monsters. I wanted to make sure our designs weren’t going to further perpetuate that stigma that isn’t true. However, I also know that in going through what I have, many times I did feel like a monster. I felt like an awful person and I was in the deepest of deep despair I had ever been. When you travel to these dark places in your brain, you never forget that pain. To me, it was important that I express that pain. I was never more scared in my life than I was during my intrusive thoughts. I was scared I would hurt someone, I was scared if my family knew what was going through my head, they would never want me, and I was scared of losing everything. Part of ending the stigma around mental health is making sure we are open and explain the hardships of mental health. That is why I feel confident that these designs don’t offend, but instead express a deep dark place in the disordered mind.
I love Halloween and I do get enjoyment out of the typical halloween slasher movies, masks, etc. But to me, the scariest thing is dealing with those intrusive thoughts. That is why when we came up with these designs, it was important for me to convey that darkness and to convey that feeling of thinking you’re a monster. That guilt is like no pain I have ever experienced.
So as you may have guessed, these designs were based off of my struggle with Harm OCD and Intrusive thoughts. I still get scared being vulnerable like this about this area of my life but I have learned that by sharing, I am helping so many more people than I ever could have thought possible. I also know the people that judge and misinterpret are simply ignorant to what disorders and mental health issues can do to someone.
I have gently touched on Harm OCD in the past, but to give you the best explanation, here is a textbook definition of it. According to the Center for Anxiety,
“Harm OCD is a subset of classic obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The condition is characterized by having aggressive, intrusive thoughts of doing violence to someone, as well as the responses the person uses to cope with these thoughts.”
Imagine for a second that you are having violent, hateful, disgusting thoughts about the people you love and care about most in the entire world. Imagine the pain and guilt you would feel. That is what I felt for nearly 7 years, without answers. It took me so long to learn that many people suffer from intrusive thoughts and that these aren’t my conscious thoughts. I am not aligned with these thoughts. They are ego-dystonic. I wanted to be out of suffering so badly. From the minute I woke up to the minute I fell asleep, I was in my own living breathing hell. I couldn’t focus on anything else because my mind just wouldn’t stop.
Fast forward, I have since healed from Harm OCD and rarely have flare ups. When I do have them, I let the anxiety and guilt go because these thoughts aren’t something I control. When I lose the guilt and anxiety, the thoughts eventually disappear.
Now onto the designs and what they mean. The first design is our “Toxic Mind” design. This design was supposed to emulate a carnival. I wanted it to emulate a carnival because I think they can be super spooky and are a great Halloween theme. I also chose a carnival theme because of the design idea I had for the back of the shirt. The front of the shirt says Toxic Mind and that was meant to represent the way I felt with intrusive thoughts. I basically meant that my mind was so toxic it was killing me. It wasn’t a place I wanted my thoughts to live in anymore. It was destroyed, toxic, and dangerous. On the back of the shirt, we put a photo of a haunted carousel and the words “Rumination Nation”. Rumination is when a negative thought just cycles in your head constantly causing distress. I purposely paired the sad, dead carousel with the words because it felt like the carousel was a visual representation of ruminating. Just as a carousel goes in circles forever, so do thoughts that are ruminating. I really liked this comparison and thought the carousel was a great way to exemplify what rumination feels like. As for the “nation” part, there is a whole community that struggles with ruminating and I thought it was a way to include the community that struggles with this into the design.
The other design we have is our “Sanity” one. This one is way less deep in the way that with mental health disorders and intrusive thoughts specifically, it is very easy to feel like you’re losing a grip on reality because of how far gone you are in your thoughts. I felt like I was slipping and losing my grasp on reality and it was beyond scary. We wanted this design to emulate that struggle of feeling like your life is slipping through your fingers and you’re getting further and further away from real life.
I try to put my heart and feelings into each design I make, but some are just so much more powerful and deep than others. These two designs are my best work and I am so pleased with how they came out. If you want to shop these designs, just click to the Shopping Page and you can shop there! Sort the items by newest or just type Halloween 2o21 into the search bar at the top of the page!
Use codeword: SPOOKSZN for 10% off all of the items in the Halloween Collection!
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.