National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: A Mindful Approach to Discussing Suicide

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  As a mental health professional and specialist in the area of suicide prevention and crisis response, this topic is very important to me and the work that I do.  Furthermore, my own personal battle with suicidal ideation and mental illness has enabled me the understanding and empathy needed to work with this challenging topic. 

Due to the cultural beliefs around suicide and mental illness as a whole, most people find it very challenging to share openly about their personal experience, not only about mental illness, but simply just about challenging times. People tend to think that difficult emotions and mental illness are a sign of weakness and inferiority, and we prefer to portray ourselves in a certain light, one that we feel is favorable to others.  Unfortunately, we also tend to believe that our self-worth and confidence is directly dependent on our successes and good fortunes.

Under these circumstances, why would we ever want to share openly about our pain and suffering?

It is here that we propagate the vicious cycle of stigma, shaming ourselves into pretending that nothing is wrong, covering up our wounds with the Band-Aids of distraction, and never fully allowing ourselves to heal. 

As challenging as it is to talk about, our willingness to discuss the topic of suicide is paramount to erasing stigma and getting help to those who may be suffering. 

It is your vulnerability and imperfections that make your strong, relatable, and worthy of your deepest heart’s needs and desires. 

A mindful approach to this discussion begins with radical acceptance that mental illness plagues all of us.  None are immune.  Whether you yourself experience the symptoms and behaviors of a mental disorder or not, you at least know someone who does. In fact, research shows that 1 in 3 people will have a psychiatric disorder in their lifetime (Kessler et al., 2004).

Just think about that for a moment.

A simple Acceptance and Commitment Therapy exercise to grasp this idea of prevalence of mental illness is to imagine every single person you know in your life.  Imagine that all these people are standing shoulder to shoulder in a very long line.  Now imagine that you are standing before this line of all the people you know.  See their faces, recall memories of activities with them, allow yourself to really see them and feel whatever emotions are brought up by your experiences with them.  Now imagine that you move through this line from the beginning and all the way to the end, counting every third person.  Recognizing that every third person is likely struggling with mental illness, and maybe even suicidal ideation. 

Imagine the magnitude of this. 

Be it directly or indirectly, we are all affected. 

The second piece of approaching this topic mindfully is to increase awareness about the automatic thoughts, emotions, and judgments that are brought up by the discussion of suicidality and mental illness.  It’s best to begin by using a mindfulness practice to connect to your breath and cultivate calm and stillness.  Naturally allow thoughts, emotions, and judgments to arise.  Simply label the thoughts, emotions, and judgments as you become aware of them.  Avoid any judgments about the thoughts or emotions.  Simply just allow them to be there without trying to change them in any way. 

Keeping this practice in mind, let’s discuss the myths commonly associated with suicide. 

Myth 1: It’s NOT “normal” to think about suicide.

Suicidal ideation, or thoughts about suicide, are fairly commonplace in the world of mental illness.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that “more than 9 million adults reported thinking about suicide in the past year” and “more than 1 million adults reported making a suicide attempt in the past year.”  Furthermore, the CDC reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans, putting up there near Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke.  However, this number drastically increases when reviewing suicide among certain age groups, particularly our youth, such that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among ages 10-14 years old and the 2nd leading cause of death among ages 15- 34 years old.

Myth 2: Those who commit suicide don’t warn others.

Often there are many warning signs that are communicated verbally or non-verbally by someone who is considering suicide.  These can include the following:

·      Excessive moodiness or mood swings.

·      Severe anxiety and agitation.

·      Changes is personality or having a sudden sense of peace.

·      A loss of sense of purpose or meaning in life.

·      Severe hopelessness and worthlessness.

·      Experiencing a recent crisis or trauma. 

·      Withdrawal from friends, family, work, and responsibilities.

·      Reckless, acting out behaviors, that are often risky in nature (i.e. promiscuity, substance abuse, excessive spending, socially inappropriate behaviors, etc.).

·      Self-harming behaviors (i.e. cutting, burning, hitting head, etc.).

·      Overt discussion and questions or preoccupation with death and dying.

·      Making preparations and getting their business in order (i.e. creating a will, giving away possessions, cleaning house, etc).

·      Making passive statements such as, “I wish I wasn’t here.” Or “I can’t do this anymore.”

Myth 3: Those who talk about suicide are just attention seeking.

As mentioned above, people who are thinking about suicide often send out warning signs, trying to communicate their distress, as well as to seek help.  This is not merely attention seeking as a way to boost self-esteem and self-worth.  Rather, these individuals are crying out for help by seeking care and understanding from others, as well as a way to managing their difficult emotions.   

Myth 4:  People who think about committing suicide want to die.

People who think about commit suicide often DON’T want to die, rather they want to find a way to end their pain.  Hopelessness and despair, a common symptom of depression and anxiety, is the thought or feeling that pain and sadness will never go away.  Individuals experiencing hopelessness often feel paralyzed by their suffering and believing that the only way to end it is by result of their death. 

Myth 5: Suicide is selfish.

Another common symptom of depression and anxiety is worthlessness, which is just the opposite of selfishness. Worthlessness leaves people believing that are no good, not deserving of love, and that the world would be better off without them.  People who struggle with thoughts of suicide almost always feel useless, insignificant, and unimportant. 

Myth 6: Symptoms of mental illness, such as thoughts of suicide, are strictly due to a chemical imbalance.

Although it is true that some mental health symptoms, such as suicidality, may be due to a chemical imbalance, this is not always true.  Research shows that other times mental illness may be caused by some combination of medical problems, genetic vulnerabilities, situational experiences, trauma, poor mood regulation, and a heightened arousal to stress (Harvard Health Publications, 2009).

Myth 7: Talking about suicide with someone who is showing warning signs may encourage them to attempt suicide.

Asking someone about suicide does not assist them in any way in carrying out their thoughts or plan.  If anything, the more you can assert yourself in inquiry about suicidal ideation, the more likely you will be viewed as a strong support who will not be easily scared away.  If you observe the warning signs of someone’s potential suicide, get talking with them.  Ask them questions. This will allow you to learn more about their experience, express your concern and empathy, and work with the individual to create a safety plan for their care and wellbeing.

One final mindful approach to this topic is to take care of yourself. 

Suicide is a very difficult topic that can cause secondary trauma to the supportive others and helpers.  In discussing this, you will naturally rouse personal thoughts, feelings, and judgments that may be very challenging and may lead to your own feelings of sadness, anger, helplessness, exhaustion, or burnout. 

Begin to take care of yourself by cultivating a self-care practice, including unplugging from technology, using mindfulness to connect to your 5 senses and find stillness, getting some exercise, getting out in nature, developing a gratitude practice, or giving back to your community.  Please see my article here for more tips of developing a self-care practice.

Lastly, check out the resources below for more assistance:

  • 911- Crisis emergency assistance
  • 211- Los Angeles County Community Resrouces
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
  • Los Angeles County DMH Access Line: 1-800-854-7771

What Therapy Has Taught Me

Ok Ok, I'll admit it, it has been a long time since I have been in the client's seat.  I'm a Therapist, so of course I believe in the power and the process of therapy, but I've recently also become a client in a whole new way, which has allowed me to rediscovered my love for the therapy process.  

And FYI, if you didn't already know, being a client is hard work!

Many people are afraid of therapy, and I can understand why.  However, most people who are not open to therapy act as if they don't need therapy because they are self-aware enough to handle things on their own.  That may be true, but there is so much to be learned about yourself in therapy and so much more to be gained with a fresh perspective.  As a therapist, who has recently taken to the client's couch, rather than my usual comfy therapist's chair, I know this all to well.

Just like you, sometimes I don't want to go to therapy, because it's just really hard.  I have had moments of feeling defensive towards the therapist when they offer a new perspective on my life, which is particularly difficult to hear.  I've also felt at times that I wanted to run out of the therapy room, because difficult feelings were being triggered.  

As I always say to my client, and now to myself as a client, "you must respect the process."  The difficult feelings, the defensiveness, the denial, all of it is a part of the process.  These are the qualities that help you to grow in therapy.  

And, It's so worth it!

Here are some things that I have learned in therapy as a client, which I believe are to be gained in the therapy process, that makes it all worth it.........

1. No matter how much awareness, intelligence, or lived experience you have, the insight and perspective of a third party person (the therapist) is invaluable to your growth and development.

When you enter into therapy you are relying on the therapist to give you insight and knowledge into your presenting problems to increase awareness and perspective.  

Well, ask and you shall receive!  This will definitely happen in therapy.  It should be noted that it's not all roses either. This is a very difficult process.  But you know what they say, "Nothing worth having comes easy."  

The therapist's input is utterly priceless.  Also, it is undoubtedly very different from your friend's or family member's input, likely more well-thought-out and balanced, but most importantly unbiased.

Even as a therapist myself, when I have been sitting on the client's couch, the insight and perspective offered by the therapist has been extremely helpful, leaving me at many times saying "I never thought about it like that before."

The truth is that when you are involved in your problems, as you always are, your mind becomes cluttered and you cannot see things clearly.  That's true for everyone, even for those who are extremely wise and self-aware. 

2. It's OK to let go of control and perfectionism.

As a client, one of the most helpful things that can happen in the therapy process, is when  your therapist offers alternatives to your preferred or regular way of being.  

Therapists do this in a very simple way, by holding the space for you as the client.  They hold the space by allowing you to be who you are, accepting you as you are, and also offering thoughts on how you can also hold space for yourself and learn to love yourself, flaws and all.

In the therapy process, when you let go of control and perfectionism and just allow yourself to be who you really are, and even make mistakes from time to time, you begin to feels safe in the therapy process.  More than that, you begin to feel safe in life because the therapist offers a corrective experience in which you begin to understand that you are always whole and complete, no matter what.

3. Acceptance.

Isn't this the thing we all want?  To just be accepted?  

One of the best parts of the therapy relationship is when you come to realize that your therapist accepts you for who you are.  No judgment.  Just pure acceptance, warmth, and regard.  When the therapist accepts you for who you are, while at the same time offering suggestions and alternatives ways of looking at the problem, you are able to work through some serious issues, some of which may have been plaguing you for years.  

It is here in acceptance, where you allow things to be as they are, without attempt to change them, that a paradox of change happens.  This is the kind of change that is cathartic and utterly transformative.  

4. Mental health is equally important as physical health.

Enough with the stigma already!  

When you are sick due to an illness or disease, you likely go to the doctor and start the recommended treatment for your physical health (i.e. medication, exercises, diet, etc).  So why is this process any different from your mental health when you are suffering from depression, anxiety, change of life issues, or a broken heart??

When you neglect your emotions, affect, mood, and psychological ailments, they only serve to manifest in other ways, often physical ones.  Maybe these will show up as nightmares, panic for no apparent reason, a feeling of dread, unhappiness, reoccurring stomach aches or other body aches, being 'stuck' in your professional or personal life, tearfulness, etc.

Therapy attends to somatic, bodily issues, that are being affected by psychological problems, as well as helps you to take care of your figurate heart.

You must take into consideration your mental health and emotions in order to be the best version of yourself!

5. Forgiveness.

This is a hard lesson to learn. Anytime.  Anywhere.

Choosing to forgive is a choice that you need to make for yourself.  No one, not even the therapist, can push you to do this.

However, as a client, my therapists have been able to point out to me areas where forgiveness may be helped.  Sometimes this means forgiving others, but usually this means forgiving myself.  Either way, the experience and process of learning to forgive is paramount to your wellbeing.  

I remember being a very young person, who believed that forgiveness was a waste of time and never imagined it as a possibility in my life, because I wanted to be sure to always make those who wronged my pay for their transgressions.  With time, maturity, and with therapy, I have learned otherwise.  

Forgiveness doesn't mean that you condone the wrongs that people have done to you.  It also doesn't mean that you forget such wrong doing.

Forgiveness is simply a willingness to no longer hold onto contempt and anger, or any other negative emotions associated with wrong doing.  

Really, forgiveness is about freedom.

6. Emotions are tricky little suckers.

Some of us are able to control our emotions beautifully.  More power to ya!  

Others of us feel emotions strongly, these emotions change often, and we have a hard time understanding how these suckers work.

I put my self in the latter description.

You are not alone. 

Although my training as a therapist has allowed me to have a great understanding of emotions and skills to use to manage these, this process does not come easy to me, especially when I am acting as the client, rather than the therapist.  Sitting on the client's couch I have felt such complicated emotions, which have been very difficult to understand, even with much awareness and understanding.  I am humbled by the fact that no matter what position you are in, emotions demand to be felt.  You must experience these at their fullest in order to move through them.

 

Consider therapy as a treatment to help you gain insight, awareness, and manage difficult feelings. There is so much to be gained in the process. 

Mindfulness 101: Mindfulness Jars

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn

I feel there is a lot of confusion about mindfulness out there, but this quote by Jon Kabat- Zinn sums it up best.  Don't think about it too much, just remember that mindfulness is more of an experience rather than a concept.  If you are willing, mindfulness doesn't have to conflict with any of your beliefs, schemas, perceptions, or opinions in any way.  Mindfulness can be a gentle addition to any and all of these and, when given a chance, is likely to enhance your life in a positive way, particularly if you or your children struggle with high stress, overwhelm, inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, physical pain, ruminating thoughts, anxiety and worry, addiction, poor motivation, and/or mood instability.

I guess what I am trying to do here is to get your 'buy in,' so to speak. 

My number one difficulty in teaching mindfulness to clients is just helping them to be open to the experience.  I find that many people fear that mindfulness is a kind of cultish ritual, or hippy religion that they are going to have to adopt by abandoning their beliefs and completely changing their outlook on the world.  I mean, I guess you could use mindfulness in this way if you wanted to, but this is certainly not my intention when teaching mindfulness to clients, nor my intention when I use mindfulness in my personal practice.

I invite you to open your mind and consider the possibility of mindfulness being a sweet and gentle tool that you can use to improve your health and wellness.  Try this on for size and see how it works for you.....

So to get started, let's use a simple metaphor and DIY craft to help you grasp the intention of mindfulness in a cerebral and visual way. 

Anyone who knows me well, know how much I love crafting, so these Mindfulness Jars are a marriage of my two favorite things, crafting and meditation!   Also, this craft is super easy to do and a great way to introduce mindfulness to your kids.  In this way you can promote wellness for the whole family!

Materials:

  • One mason jar of any size (I used the half-pint size here)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Small figurine, something that will fit inside of the mason jar with room to spare on all sides.  I used this fun little gnome!
  • Glitter of any color
  • Tap water

Instructions:

First begin by filling your mason jar with regular tap water.  Test out how much water you will need by placing the figurine (the gnome) inside the water, as the water will rise when you do.  Make sure to leave some space in the jar because you will also add quiet a lot of glitter.

Once you have the right amount of water, you will then use your hot glue gun to glue your figurine to the underside of the mason jar lid.   Place a good amount of glue at the bottom of the figurine.  Then gently place the figurine in the center of the underside of the lid.  Hold in place until the glue has cooled.  Set aside and let dry completely.

Now you will add the glitter to your mason jar filled with water.  Pour glitter into the jar, on top of the water.  You will use quite a lot of glitter.  I used about half a bottle, until there was about an inch and a half of glitter sitting on top of the water.

Once the figurine is completely dry and cooled, you are going to place the lid onto the mason jar, as you regularly would.  Be careful no water or glitter spill out.  If so, you will need to pour some out to make room for the figurine.  Make sure the lid is securely fastened and then tip your mason jar upside down and voilà!  Mindfulness Jar complete!


Now let's pretend the mason jar is your mind and the glitter is the thousands of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that swirl around in your head all day.  When these thoughts, feelings, and emotions (glitter) start swirling around your mind (mason jar) you may feel stressed, overwhelmed, fearful, confused, depressed, agitated, distracted, or a combination of any of these things.  Also, notice that when these thoughts, feelings, and emotions (glitter) are swirling about, it is really hard to stay focus on any one thing (the gnome) as these cloud your ability to focus on what really matters, such as your work, tasks, relationships, wellbeing, etc.

When you engage in mindfulness and pay attention to what is happening in the moment, gently watching the thoughts, feelings, and emotions (glitter) swirling, noticing your breath, sitting in stillness, becoming aware of the physical sensations in your body, allowing things to unfold naturally without trying to change anything, suspending all judgment, you may begin to notice that the thoughts, feelings, and emotions (glitter) start to slowly settle until you are able to see more clearly and your mind (mason jar) becomes calm.  With a calm mind you are able to focus on what is important so that you may feel more relaxed, improve your concentration, be able to make better decisions, and feel a sense of peace or wellbeing.

 

Try it out now.  Take a minute to watch the very short video below for a brief demonstration of the basic principles of mindfulness...

Knitting as Self-Care

It wasn’t until I was in my Masters program for Clinical Psychology that I ever heard the words “self-care.”  Self-care was drilled into our teachings, due to the fact that burn-out is high in healing professions.  When I think of this, what always comes to mind is the speech given by flight attendants before takeoff,

“In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth….  If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.”

Clearly, it is imperative to help yourself before you are able to help others.

Yet, since my educational years, I hear ‘self-care’ used quite often, in many different contexts, many of which are unrelated to the psychology field or other helping professions.  This little phase seems to have caught on, and we are all, no doubt, thankful.

Self-care is so important because it keeps us fresh, clear-headed, and motivated.  It allows us time to re-charge and experience life’s pleasures.  Self-care increases productivity.  It gives us feelings of well-being.  And if you are in a healing or caring profession (this includes all the mothers out there), self-care increases empathy, compassion, and your ability to provide to others.

The best part, self-care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. What may be self-care to me, may not be self-care to you, and vice versa.  Also, there are many activities out there that could be self-care if only I had the time or interest to try them (i.e. surfing, painting, martial arts, running, _____________ fill in the blank).  Therefore, here, I want to discuss interesting forms of self-care, specifically, knitting.

Maybe knitting is already your self-care and you didn’t know it.  Maybe you knew knitting was your self-care, although it wasn’t really your intention to be such; you just like to knit!  Maybe you’ve never tried knitting before, but could dig it.  Or maybe you think knitting ‘is for girls’ or for ‘nerds’ and wouldn’t think to touch it with a 10 foot pole.

Well think again!

Knitting is for everyone!  As long as you are willing and show a little interest, knitting might just be the best thing that ever happened to you, as far as self-care is concerned.  And if you already believe this whole-heartedly, well, as they say, keep on wit’ yo’ bad self!

Here are nine reasons why knitting is therapeutic and an excellent self-care tool:

1.  Knitting increases focus and attention:

Depending on the project you set out to make, the effort required to knit something varies.  On the more difficult projects, such as socks or a sweater, you most likely will follow a pattern that requires great attention and focus.  There certainly will be counting and some math involved, multitasking on different parts of the project at the same time, fine motor skills, spatial relations, and eye-hand coordination.  Research demonstrates that these kinds of tasks, particularly motor tasks, increase cell and brain development in the areas of thinking and focused attention (Schwartz, E., Knitting and Intellectual Development, 2012).  Therefore, by knitting you may be improving your academic and vocation abilities.

2. Knitting cultivates brain laterality

Brain Laterality refers to the ability to use both hemispheres of the brain.  Although we do use both sides of the brain, many of us have one side of the brain that is more predominant than the other.  To very simply summarize this process, the left side of your brain is more rational, analytical, logical, and linear, while the right side of your brain is more social, emotional, experiential, creative, and deals with interconnection of parts to create a whole (Siegel, D., Mindsight, 2010.)  If you are one who tends to be more left brained, you may be cut off from your emotions, rigid, and resistant.  If you are one who tends to be more right brained, you may be very sensitive and have difficulty regulating emotions.  Research demonstrates that cohesion between both sides of the brain, left and right hemispheres, allows for increased feelings of well-being, as one is able to better balance various aspects of life, the logical and analytical, as well as the emotional and spiritual (Siegel, D., Mindsight, 2010.)  Specifically, knitting helps to increase brain laterality, or cohesion of both brain hemispheres, because the creative process of knitting activates the right hemisphere, while the mathematical and spatial aspects of knitting activate the left hemisphere.  Also, knitting requires the use of both hands which naturally activates both hemispheres of the brain.

3. Knitting allows for silence and stillness:

Silence is golden, and seemingly harder to find these days.  The world seems to be going faster and faster, with the internet, cell phones, social media, and all those dang apps, we hardly have any down time anymore.  Therefore, in order to slow down and make time for ourselves we must make a committed effort and serious action to rest and decompress from the day’s events.  Knitting gives you the space for this.  It is the time when you can, and probably should, turn off the computer, TV, cell phone, etc, and just be quiet and still.  Trust me.  You’ll thank me later.

4.  Knitting is a form of meditation:

In a traditional meditation practice you focus all your attention on a neutral area of the body, usually your breathe.  You notice the sensations of breathing as you sit in stillness and silence.  When a thought, sound, emotion, or some other distraction arises, you notice the distraction, let it got and then return to the sensation of breathing.  The principals are the same with knitting.  However, while knitting your focal area will be your hands and fingers.  Focus your attention on the sensations of knitting; the yarn running across finger tips, the throwing of the yarn, the movement of the needs, the clicking sound of the needles, the texture of the stitches, the weight of the yarn, etc.  When you notice a thought or another distraction, simply notice it and when it no longer holds your attention return your focus to the sensations of knitting.  In this way, you are increasing present moment awareness and not being swayed by thoughts of the past or future.  As in any meditation, present moment awareness increases mood regulation, empathy and compassion, feeling of well-being, relaxation, immunity, and resting functions of the body.

5. Knitting is calming:

Anyone who has ever knit before will tell you how relaxing it can be.  After you learn the basic skill and technique, your hands go on autopilot and you don’t even have to think about how to make each stitch.  The subsequent relaxation that this cultivates is due to “flow,” which is defined by a Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as “a few moments in time when you are so completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter” (Wilson, J., This Is Your Brain on Knitting, 2014).  The repetitive movements of knitting induce flow by centering your attention on the task at hand.  This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, or the part of the brain responsible for rest, relaxation, and reparative functions of the body (Wilson, J., This Is Your Brain on Knitting, 2014). 

6.  Knitting induces faith:

In knitting, you create something from nothing.  It is faith that gets you through that process.  In order for it to work, you must believe that your repetitive movements and skill will build stitch upon stitch to create something new and unique.   And when I say “new,” I mean new.  Don’t be stuck in the traditional conventions of knitting, scarves, socks, sweaters.  You can literally make anything you want.  For example, Olek, a knit artist based out of Poland, has knit the Wall Street bull, full body suits, her house, and even under water, among many others!  If that doesn’t take an act of faith, I don’t know what does.

7.  Knitting increases self-esteem:

Once you are done knitting something, anything at all, a sock, a buoy, or just your first row, you will feel pride.  That is guaranteed.   Knitting is a task that when completed you feel successful.  Also, knitting is a safe way to increase self-esteem, because it is usually a very neutral task; there isn’t much riding on whether or not you are a good knitter.  Therefore, by practicing knitting you will most definitely increase feelings of confidence.

8.  Knitting tackles perfectionism

Inevitably when you knit, you will make a mistake; you might drop a stitch, create the wrong kind of stitch, forget an important aspect of the pattern, decrease or increase too few or too many, etc.   Yes, you can go back and fix it, but depending on how far down your project the problem lies, it might be quite a hassle.  Also, probably no one will notice your knitting mistakes, except for maybe you as the creator.  This is a lesson, not only in patience, but in embracing imperfection.  Fix what you can and let the rest go.

9.  Knitting teaches acceptance:

Ah, acceptance.  The hardest and most profound lesson in life.  Because you will make mistakes, because mistakes are inevitable, you will struggle with letting go and accepting things as they are.  Just remember this:  in knitting and in life, there will be difficulty.  Allow that difficulty to be what it is, rather than avoiding it, trying to change it, or get pissed off about it, just sit with it.  When you do you will find that things can naturally change and unfold into something amazing.  Use knitting as a tool to start this process.  In that way, knitting is a more tolerable metaphor that you can practice to help you with life’s more serious difficulties.

 

* This blog post was a collaboration project for AK Kerani, a company dedicated to promoting mental health and wellness through knitted fashion. Click here for the direct link for this article featured at AK Kerani.  Be apart of the movement to erase the stigma of mental health.  Comment below to get involved in mental health awareness. *