From 2010 through 2018, I worked for the federal government as an Equal Employment Opportunity Investigator. I investigated allegations of discrimination in the workplace based on disability. Though it was a rewarding career, the symptoms related to my diagnosis of general anxiety disorder made it difficult to complete the essential functions of my job. I subsequently focused on my mental health towards the end of 2018.
On December 3, 2018, I began residential treatment. It was an 11 week program that changed my outlook on life and allowed me to focus on mindfulness-chirping birds, eating a chocolate, taking a nap, and even having a great laugh!
During those 11 weeks at the treatment center, I met another patient named Louis. He is a gifted artist who had just begun to explore his artistic genius as his symptoms have made permanent employment a formidable challenge.
One afternoon, I saw Louis sleeping in his bed, not as a restful nap, but as a way to escape his depressive thoughts. I thought to myself “there is more to life than this!” On a whim, I gave Louis a blank baseball cap to design with his freestyle artistry. After he completed the hat, I wore it in a shopping mall, and many shoppers asked to purchase the hat!
A light bulb went off in my head and I began to think of some “not so serious” hat designs, reflecting stigma associated with mental illness.
Shortly thereafter, we decided that “Stigma with Style” was a great name for the collection of our hats!
In light of the pandemic, we have also focused on value based, inclusive phrases, on our hats.
We look forward to supporting ADAA’s mission of raising awareness about depression and anxiety, hat by hat. We are particularly committed the ADAA’s position that those with psychiatric conditions can lead value packed lives!