Super excited to bring you our latest RePro by none other than Ms. Vero Higareda of Spark Bracelets. This young lady (editor's note: wow, I feel old) is changing hearts and minds and challenging us all to #sparkaconversation about mental health through her beautifully designed bracelets. 10% of every sale goes to her Spark Fund--read more about that drop of golden philanthropy here. Thank you, Vero, for showing us that mental illness is not a life sentence--in many ways, it's a gift.
Name: Vero Higareda
Location: U.S./Mexico, here and there
Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 6/9/20111
Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
I design bracelets that represent different mental health issues in order to raise awareness and Spark conversations about mental illness. I also like to paint (although, being honest with you, I am very bad at it.)
Drug of choice (or not of choice...):
Recovery Story in a Nutshell:
It's actually a looong story but I'll try to do it in a nutshell! When I was fifteen I realized that there was "something" wrong going on in my head. This 'something', this very painful, agonizing 'something' led me to try and attempt suicide. Fortunately, I survived and it has allowed me to be here to share my story. I didn't know what this something was until after tons of reading and research and help from my mom. This something is OCD, and in between I've dealt with depression as well. OCD manifests itself in many ways not restricted to cleaning and meticulous organizing. One of those manifestations is having obsessive, self-harming, thoughts, which lead to mental torment and physical compulsions. In my case, the stress caused by these obsessions and compulsions wore me down even physically. It really is something beyond your control and it can become a living hell. I tried around 6 therapists before I found a good match. I found someone who truly cared about my mental wellness and who understood that Citalopram and Rivotril were not going to help me unless I also helped myself. After 7 years of being in therapy I still have OCD but I am now able to live a fulfilling life – despite it. Now this is not to say that it has been easy. I dare to say that recovery from addiction or mental illness is never easy. But it can be done. It takes time, it takes effort, it's a process. I am glad I didn't give up, I hope that if you're reading this you don't give up either. In the words of The Sobriety Collective "sobriety and recovery are everywhere." <
Top 5 Recovery Tools:
cannot tell you how reading saved my life so many times. At times when I felt that there was noo hope for me, I would find online forums and spaces (just like this one!) and would read other people's stories. It would give me sooo much encouragement because I thought, hey! there is someone out there, right now, who feels just like me. I am not alone. And if they have been able to recover and live well, then so can I! I also started reading a lot of textbooks that talked about OCD, mental illness, addiction, etcetera. I feel that reading and learning more about these subjects helps you give it meaning, and understand that there are things beyond your control but then there are also things which you can do to help yourself. It's also a good distraction, and you learn while you’re at it!
I think this is one of the hardest things to do but once you start getting the hang of it a lil bit, it only gets easier from there. It's hard to love oneself, we are always criticizing ourselves, what we do, what we think, we compare ourselves to others... but once we start shutting off these voices, things start to change internally. When we hear inside our heads "you're ugly" or "you're dumb" and we respond NO, I AM NOT. I think this is where we start self-love. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are beautiful, that we are loved, that we are meaningful. And if we learn to love ourselves, things start getting brighter and better.
To be completely honest, I have NEVER been a fan of exercising. But somehow running clears my mind off. Although, when I get my relapses of OCD, there is never really a time where I have a clear mind, running helps me distract myself even if it's just for seconds. It's also good for your physical health, so there we go, right!?
Ahhhhh, if there has been something that has helped me it has been therapy. There is a looot of stigma involving therapy; if you tell someone that you are seeing a psychiatrist you immediately get this, are you crazy? look. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GOING TO THERAPY. Honestly, I think everyone should do it. I know therapy can be expensive, there have been moments in my life where I haven't been able to afford it. If you can't afford it then please talk to someone you love and that you know that will actually listen to you, and not judge you. Talking always helps.
Keeping a journal has helped me keep track of my thoughts and my emotions. How they have changed, how much progress (or lack of) there has been. It increases your self-awareness and it is nice to have your thoughts laid out, and in a journal you can express how you feel without fear of being judged. You’re also able to track your personal patterns of behavior that help you achieve goals and respond effectively to challenges.