‘Sad Girls’ Speak Up About Mental Illness
By Siya Bahal and Elizabeth Hamilton
When Elyse Fox started Sad Girls Club February of 2017, she didn’t know it would grow to become one of the most far-reaching communities of the year. In just a few months, SGC has helped hundreds of girls find a community and platform to make their voices heard through their online platform and their in-person events.
One of their most recent events, the SGC Poetry Slam, featured ten poets and had over 100 attendees. Held at the Peterson House in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the space was filled with calming candles and the gentle chatter of dozens of young women — primarily women of color. Most greeted each other with warm hugs instead of handshakes, meditating before the poets went on stage. The performers told deeply personal stories, ranging from explorations of body positivity, identity and race, to a group of supportive young men and women.
Rafaela, a performer at the Sad Girls Poetry Slam, spoke to the value of the SGC community.
“It ended up being kind of this group catharsis among women talking about their lives and experiences,” she said. “I walked out [of the event] with ten new friends I am still connected to.”
For Rafaela, being in your 20s can mean moving away from your support systems. For most, especially those who struggle with mental health, the transition can be particularly trying.
“When you’re out in the universe by yourself you start feeling things to an extent that you didn’t before when you were a teenager and had the safety of your school or family,” she said.
When a public figure dies unexpectedly, it's natural to feel grief. Here are some ways the SGC team takes care of themselves when the news is triggering: > If you feel like you need to cry, it's okay to let it out. Your body does what it does for a reason and crying is a natural and positive way to release sadness! Don't beat yourself up if you can't cry, though! The tears will come when they come. 💧 >If the #RIP posts are overwhelming, disconnect for a few hours. Tell close friends you need time away from your phone and be gentle with yourself. Take a nap or a hot shower, draw a picture, relax! If the feelings are hard to deal with alone, journal or ask a friend to facetime or spend time with you IRL. Try to stay away from social media sites where triggers may pop up. 📲 > Honor the celebrities legacy: make a collection of your favorite work. Sometimes, this will help you remember them in a positive light. But seeing/hearing them again could be upsetting, so trust your instincts. 💙 Hotlines are provided if you swipe ➡️ we love you, stay safe.
While many attend SGC events, they have an even larger online following, with over twenty-one thousand Instagram followers. By employing Instagram as their main hub to talk about mental health, they’ve turned the superficial “everything’s okay” attitude of social media on its head. SGC talks about real issues, turning away from the fake side of the online world.
The organization’s emphasis on creating a space for women of color has opened the door to conversations within communities that historically don’t talk about mental health in their homes. Hundreds of post commenters write that the organization doesn’t just educate women — it also breaks down harsh stereotypes and teaches women that their voice matters.
SGC doesn’t discriminate either: There’s a space for all types of mental health issues to be discussed, including more stigmatized conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. They also appeal to men, hoping to dismantle a culture of toxic hyper masculinity.
For the rising number of young women in their 20s struggling with their mental health, SGC’s Instagram account is their place for stories, advice and affirmations from an amazing group of women. Sad Girls Club has given women a space to breathe, meet other authentic and empowered WOC and find a space where it’s okay to not be okay.
SGC recently announced their ambassador program to make themselves accessible to communities and cities everywhere. Follow their Instagram here to stay up to date on their next events.
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