Nolan: Hello Alex, thank you for joining me today. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself?
Alex: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I am a third-year sociology honours student, and I am a Brand Ambassador for Fog Off Clothing Company. I am a proud Maritimer, and I find it hard to describe myself on the spot [laughs].
Nolan: Good thing I know a thing or two about you. Can you tell us more about Fog Off?
Alex: Fog Off is an Atlantic Canadian clothing brand that started in 2014. Fog Off donates ten percent of their sales to the Mental Health Association and/or Mental Health Foundation in each province. They are not just using their brand to create discussion and change surrounding mental health, but their goal is also to give back to the cause.
Nolan: How long have you been a Brand Ambassador for Fog Off?
Alex: I have been an Ambassador since February.
Nolan: Good for you. Do you mind elaborating on the company’s mission statement?
Alex: Sure. Fog Off is trying to send a message that everyone can relate to. We all have mental health, and we all struggle with our mental health at some point in our lives. Fog Off defines this as a ‘Mental Fog,’ which may include stress, depression, anxiety, bullying, sickness, addiction – you name it. If we are not struggling, we know someone who is. The goal is to spread the message that ‘no one has to walk along a foggy path alone, but also that fog eventually lifts’.
Nolan: This sounds like a wonderful cause. How can we get involved or help contribute?
Alex: Well, I believe that a major part that everyone can help with is creating discussion. I will say that overall, Acadia students are doing well in this respect. Sharing individual stories with each other is a major part of that discussion, and you can always share your experiences anonymously if you are uncomfortable speaking your mind. Fog Off Clothing donates ten percent of their sales to mental health initiatives, and I strongly suggest checking out their website to see their products online, or at their partner store Psudio.
Nolan: That sounds wonderful. What is the website address, and what type of products are available for purchase?
Alex: The website is www.fogoffclothing.com, and they have everything from anchor bracelets, to doggy bandanas, sweaters, t-shirts, car decals, toques, and lots of other awesome products. On their website, they also have a link to the story behind the brand, and the associations, foundations, and societies that they support. Also, if you make a purchase online, you can receive 10% off your purchase by using my promo code: Pulchny001.
Nolan: Would you mind sharing your experiences with mental health and why you wanted to get involved with Fog Off?
Alex: Sure, when I was younger I never understood the concept of mental health. I thought that you only had mental health if it was something that you struggled with. As I was growing up, I watched my sister go through some tough times with her mental health, and it made me weary of talking about my own. I was afraid that if I was open about it, I would be labelled and people would treat me as such. I still find labels hard to deal with which is why I got used to bottling up my emotions. Now that I understand the concept of mental health better, although it is still difficult to talk about my feelings, I can now discuss them with a handful of my peers. When I heard that Fog Off Clothing was in search of Brand Ambassadors, I jumped at the chance. Acting as a Brand Ambassador has provided me with a medium to discuss mental health and help end the stigma surrounding it. The opportunity also provides me with the chance to meet people who are open to discussing mental health and their experiences may be similar to my own. If they have different stories it broadens my perspective on the topic. The Ambassadors are all extremely supportive of each other, which makes it a great community.
Nolan: Thank you for sharing that. I too used to have a misunderstanding, if you will, of the concept of mental health. I too realize now that mental health impacts us all, and that labels can be discouraging to some. What advice do you have for anyone who finds it difficult to discuss their mental health, and struggles with the concept of mental health labels?
Alex: It is hard to give advice on mental health in a general sense, but I will say that it is important to find someone who you can be open with. It took me a long time to find somebody who I was able to discuss my struggles with. Labels are tricky because sometimes they help people find who they are and how to deal with a situation, and other times it may create a larger self-struggle. For myself, I know that I have anxiety, but I also know we all have differing levels of anxiety. To be physically labelled as having anxiety would make it more difficult to cope with it. It would be like introducing myself as ‘Hello, I am anxiety’. Take any label with a grain of salt because you are the only one who can implement your label. You are who you want to be. If someone puts a label on you, you can choose to say: ‘I am not that label, but thank you – I am human. I may experience the label, but I am not the label’.
Nolan: Thank you for sharing. I have battled labels, and previously written an article discussing my opinion on the matter, and it is refreshing to have a perspective from the other side. I find labels empowering, and I am glad that the readers can hear someone else’s story on the matter. Is there anything more you would like to share?
Alex: Just one more thing, on the topic of sharing your experiences and what you are going through: we have some great resources on campus including the Mental Health Society, counselling services, and the Acadia Women’s Center, and I am certain that although they may be strangers, they are here to listen and support you. Sometimes, it feels better to talk to a stranger.
Nolan: Thank you again for sharing your story.
Alex: It was great to have the opportunity to share my story and talk about an amazing clothing company.