My Love Yourself First shirt came in the mail the other day. It is my favorite of the Always Keep Fighting campaigns – and not just because I got it in a baseball tee. The design and message are easy to wear and easy to explain. As Jared puts it on the Represent site “Loving yourself is vital in the fight against mental health problems, so I want to encourage y’all to focus on loving yourselves first… each and every one of you is worthy.”
The best part about all the campaigns is the work they do to destigmatize mental illness in all shapes and sizes. The charities these campaigns feed into are also pretty amazing . (To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), St Jude Children’s Hospital, Wounded Warrior Project, Random Acts , SPN Family Crisis Support Network.)
All this to say — the impact is real. This campaign gives people a starting point for conversations they previously would have avoided or worse made fun of.
AKF has prompted conversations in our household about depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. These talks have given the boys background, a way to express themselves with us, and a framework for conversations with others.
My real world example is this:
One afternoon on the way to baseball practice, JJ was sitting quietly in the passenger seat; not even looking at his phone (he’s 12 so that’s a big deal). When he started to speak, I glanced over at him.
“Mom,” he started, “today my friend ______ was talking to me about being depressed.”
“How is she doing?” I responded.
“Well, she’s having a tough time right now but I talked to her about the Always Keep Fighting message and I think that helped.”
It was a quick exchange but one that packed a punch.
I am proud that he took the time to listen to his friend and offer support and information. I am proud that at 12 he is cultivating his empathy and doing his part to lessen the stigma around depression. I am proud that he was talking to me about it all. And I am proud to be a part of the #SPNFamily.