Who we are

Anne – Co-founder & Facilitator

IMG_0858Hi! I’m in my (hopefully) final year at UBC, majoring in Integrated Science. I am studying human biology and psychology, with a keen interest in the inter-relatedness of physical and mental health.

Jump-starting SHARE has been a success these past three years, and we’re excited for another awesome year to come. We hope to promote our support group even more, host educational workshops and develop partnerships with campus and community resources. I struggled with using self-harm as a coping mechanism since the age of 13, and had an extended period of increased use and dependency during my first few years of university. In the beginning stages of my recovery, I always hoped for a place, outside of my doctor’s office, where I could find support by relating to peers with experiences of self-harm. Kind of like how people with alcoholism can attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. To my disappointment, no such parallel meetings existed for self-harm. Now, further along in my recovery, I am eager to create that space I desired, so people struggling right now can find the support that I wasn’t able to. Additionally, I hope to educate the larger community about self-harm, promote the importance of self-care, and to prevent people from using self-harm in the first place.

Outside of school and work, you can find me going for outdoor adventures, eating yummy food, being weird, attempting to include some art in my life, volunteering as a first responder, eating more yummy food, watching Grey’s Anatomy, chilling with some close friends, drinking tea… and yes, eating even more yummy food :)

Natasha – Co-founder & Facilitator

I am working on my master’s in human development, l2016-02-26 16.20.29earning, and culture at the University of British Columbia. In my studies I focus on new ways of understanding mental illness and mental illness education, with a particular emphasis on mood- and psychosis-related symptoms. By using non-traditional methods such as visual art, I engage in knowledge translation and mobilization (i.e. making scientific findings easily digestible and useable) to help destigmatize mental illness.

I never saw myself as being part of the mental health awareness movement until mental health was forced on me — I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013. I went from knowing nothing about mental health to now testing the boundaries of our current views on mental illness, be it in my classrooms or my clinicians’ offices. I founded Redefining Bipolar in 2014 as an initiative to “redefine” what bipolar disorder is and how it is experienced by the 1-5% of the population who live with this diagnosis. I also work with CREST.BD as the manager of their Bipolar Blog.

In my spare time I enjoy being in nature, messing around with makeup and special effects, and eating too much chocolate.

Katherine – Artist Changemaker & Facilitator

Kat and SteveHello all! I am in my final (but not 4th!) year at UBC, finishing up my double major in Visual Art and Psychology and I recently applied to medical schools hoping to become a rural psychiatrist. Everything I have achieved, and the passion I have developed for mental health promotion, draws on my experience with self-harm and suicide. At the age of 13, with the pressure closing in to be perfect, I started self-harming. With nobody to talk to and no other coping strategies, my self-harming culminated in a suicide attempt when I was 17. I came to UBC 8 months later, carrying this secret, hidden beneath long-sleeves. Struggling to come to terms with my experience and finding new ways to cope with stress, self-doubt, and my scars represented a huge part of my early experience at UBC. Without a resource like SHARE, I turned to art to deal with these topics alone. Through painting my own and others’ stories and addressing topics like stigma, visibility and perception of mental health, I slowly learned not only to accept my experience and scars, but also to love them as part of who I am. Ultimately, my experience, which I had been so fearful of sharing, shaped my passions and who I am today. Through my art and my increasing involvement in mental health outreach on campus, I’ve met so many inspiring people who have showed me just how common struggling with mental health is, and how cathartic opening up and sharing can be. And that is why I am so incredibly excited to contribute to SHARE – it represents everything I wish I could have had in my first year at UBC and everything I have learned about self-harm and support since. You are not alone.

Check out Katherine’s work here 🙂

Daphnée – Facilitator

Hi! I’m a 20-year-old UBC student hoping to major in English/Creative Writing. I initially moved to Vancouver two years ago, but it is only in the past year or so that I’ve been introduced to the amazing peer support groups on our campus, including SHARE.

I myself started struggling with self-harm at the age of fourteen, following a family move and my very first major depressive episode. Self-harm was an unhealthy coping mechanism I adopted in high school, because I didn’t know how to cope with my emotions otherwise. I struggled a lot with feelings of anger, guilt and shame, and held myself to unbelievably high standards.

As a result, self-harm became an all purpose solution for me, to the point where I had to carry my self-harming items with me at all times, whether it be under my pillow at night or buried in my backpack during the day. On several occasions, I used self-harm as a tool for managing distressing situations, but I knew deep down that this couldn’t be a long-term solution to the issues I was facing. It was convenient, fast acting and would put me at ease for a minute or two, but then I’d be overwhelmed with more guilt, anger and shame. It was an endless cycle.

Today, I’m happy to announce that I have been keeping myself safe for months now, and I continue to learn new behaviours and coping strategies to help me with difficult and emotionally distressing situations. Recently, I have also allowed myself to wear clothes in public that show my self-harm scars, and for the first time. It has been a liberating experience, as I believe that it is not my responsibility to make other people comfortable with my body.

Lastly, in my free time, whenever I’m not at school, working or engaging in self-care activities, I enjoy reading, writing, eating two slices of pepperoni pizza with lots of hot sauce, drinking too many mocha lattes, and completing 1 000 pieces jigsaw puzzles when I can’t fall asleep. I particularly enjoy sharing my story to connect with others, and I do so by publishing vulnerable pieces with The Mighty and ThoughtCatalog. I believe that writing has been a therapeutic process for me, and has helped me heal.