The Youth of Utah Advocacy Coalition (YUTAC) is an organization that empowers mentally ill young adults and youth who've been involved the system to have a leading role in shaping policy, ending stigma, and community building. Our monthly newsletter provides a platform for young adults to share their voices and experiences with a wider audience.
In This Month's Newsletter: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, How to Celebrate Pride When You Want To Skip The Parade, and The Self-Care Sunday Festival
We are sorry to have missed the May Newsletter! We were busy making Mental Health Awareness Month memorable by putting together the The Self-Care Sunday Festival at Avenues Yoga. There were a number of booths where attendees made DIY self-care items, such as body scrubs, loose leaf teas, art pieces, etc. There were also yoga classes and workshops throughout the day, self-care giveaways, resources from a number of local organizations, and more!
We had over 300 people come through the event, and leave with new resources, a deeper understanding of self-care, and free food/coffee in their bellies. Thank you for making Self-Care Sunday such a special day. Remember: Self-care isn't selfish, and mental health is just as important as physical health. Let's keep mental health awareness up all year long!
The Reality Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
By Whitney Lee Geertsen
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a well-known, but highly misunderstood and falsely stereotyped disorder. It isn’t having or your home organized and spotless. The jokes about needing items arranged by color or in alphabetical order misrepresent OCD entirely. I was 25 when I was first diagnosed with OCD. I have had this condition for as long as I can remember. I didn’t think I had OCD because I didn’t fit the humorous stereotypes that are constantly peddled about.
OCD as defined by International OCD foundation is a mental health disorder when a person is stuck in a cycle of Obsessions and Compulsions. Obsessions are a bombardment of unwanted intrusive thoughts which can cause intense distress and anxiety. Thoughts can include anything from irrational fears to being afraid you will harm someone. I describe my mind as always having an X rated movie playing in the background. Compulsions are behaviors used to get rid of the intrusive thoughts and ease distress. As a child I would engage in a lengthy nighttime ritual of scripture recitation and sleep with my scriptures under my pillow in order to drive out the bad thoughts. As an adult I struggle with skin picking, shaking my head, or binge eating. OCD is not quirky. It is a nightmare.
If I were to pick one out of my six mental health diagnoses to be cured, it would be OCD. Before getting officially diagnosed I dealt with a 24-hour nightmare anytime I wasn’t preoccupied. Now thanks to a proper diagnosis and medication, the noise of the eternal X movies has quieted. Where I once found OCD humor funny, I see it for what it is. OCD humor is far from humorous. I think of others who suffer like me and how my suffering could have been reduced if I had known that my waking nightmares were caused by OCD.
Whitney is an autistic activist who is passionate about disability rights and neurodiversity. In addition to her work in advocacy, she is passionate about animals and our environment. You can find more of her work on her blog, Autistic Observations
How To Celebrate Pride When The Festival Isn’t For You
By Athena Schwartz
As another wonderful pride month comes around, I find myself yet again wanting to celebrate my queer nonbinary self and the community. As someone with social anxiety and PTSD, all the noises, smells, people, lights in an unfamiliar place that is pride, I have learned that maybe the festival isn’t my thing. There are many reasons why someone might not want to go to pride; maybe it’s too overwhelming or not accessible enough, or it’s too damn white, or you just want to give a big f*ck you to the capitalism that now fills pride. Regardless of your reason, pride is not all about the festival and it’s okay not go to the festival. Here are some other ways to celebrate pride instead of or in addition to the festival.
Get together with some queer friends Even though the festival overwhelms me, I still make an effort to celebrate pride month with my queer friends. This still helps me grow by pushing to socialize, but it is more comfortable than the festival by being more in control of the situation and be surrounded by the people I choose. If you do not feel like you have a group of people to hang out with, I am now your new queer friend! There are also great online communities for Utah. If you’re a Facebook person like me, I personally love the group SL,UT which is full of local queer people.
Make your own pride apparel or crafts If you really like wearing rainbow and other pride flag clothes but don’t like big corporations taking your money, here are some DIY ideas from a pinterest I made: https://pin.it/byopj5te43ntfz
If you’re not artsy, but you want pride gear that supports the LGBTQ community: http://mic.com/articles/189653/your-guide-to-brands-whose-pride-themed-merch-actually-gives-back-to-the-lgbtq-community
Write about being your queer wonderful self!!
Educate others (and yourself) on queer issues including issues about trans and ace people, mental health issues, other disability issues, POC issues, and more. Not only is it important to learn about LGBTQ issues, but is also important to learn about the other issues LGBTQ people are facing everyday. People are not one dimensional. Queer people are more likely to face mental illness, and queer POC are far more likely to than white queer people. Look into how intersectionalities impact the LGBTQ community. There is always more to learn about our community. Take the time to do your research! Some great online resources I know of are GLAAD, The Trevor Project, Planned Parenthood, and them.us.
Volunteer at your local shelter or pantry Many of our homeless youth in Utah (and all over the US) are queer! Help out year round if you are able to, but pride month is a great time to show some extra love. Not all queer people are rich white folx. Many members of our community are poor and/or homeless. Some also can’t afford to go to pride or have to work. Bring pride to these underrepresented communities!
Athena is a nonbinary student at the U studying Health Promotion and Education and Anthropology. They use them/them pronouns.
Are you a student or young adult under 26 who wants to get involved with the Youth of Utah Advocacy Coalition, or contribute to this newsletter? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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