In Decemeber 2015, we finally took the leap from being an exclusively-online brand, to partnering with stockists in Canada and beyond. Jessica of Nestor forlag is our first international stockist, based in Sweden. She also happens to be an amazing mental health advocate.
*Answers have been edited for grammar as Jessica's first language is not English.
WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself & Nestor forlag.
Jessica: I started writing a book when I had my first child - an experience that left me feeling so incredibly bad, with no help or support in my situation . Now in retrospect I know that I had a (postpartum)depression and was both angry and sad because nobody helped me out. I self-published my first book (to share my story). Soon, people began asking me to do lectures. Then I wrote my second book, a book that explains anxiety disorders to children. So I started my shop to sell books and lecture tickets, but when I found Wear Your Label I thought, This is what I stand for, this is what I want to share. I want to tell the world that it's OK not to be OK.
"I want to tell the world that it's OK not to be OK."
Besides Nestor forlag, I work full-time at a prison, and meet people with mental illness everyday. So this topic is important to me for many reasons. On my website, I also have a blog where I write openly about mental illness. I share my thoughts, feelings and knowledge of the area, which is appreciated by many.
WYL: Tell us more about your connection to mental health.
Jessica: I have had anxiety since childhood. I suffered from selective mutism (as a child) and always felt anxious and scared. Anguish in my teens drove me to self-harm and an eating disorder, which I suffered for over 15 years. When I had children, my anxiety grew and I had a hard time dealing with life. At 32 years of age I was diagnosed with ADHD and GAD. I felt quite directly that I wanted to turn all the pain I had into something positive, so I wrote my book and started my business.
WYL: Why is raising awareness about this issue important to you?
Jessica: When I was a child, I was quiet and good. There was no one who saw my suffering. During adolescence, when I fought against eating disorders and self-injury no one dared to take hold of it and talk about it. I want to talk about it. I want to help so quiet girls, like me also will get help, and in time ,they can also feel less bad (about themselves). Many people have a hard time believing that I have these diagnoses when I seem fine. I want to convey that it is on the inside and not the outside, and it's something we can all can get affected by, and need to talk about. It feels important for me, both because I have suffered myself but also to help other people. If I only can help one person I'm glad. I never meet anyone who asks me how I really feel, and I want to be that person who dares to ask the tough questions and bothers to listen to the answers.
"I want to be that person who dares to ask the tough questions and bothers to listen to the answers."
WYL: Can you speak a bit about the mental health landscape in Sweden? Is there a large stigma? Any local mental health organizations you'd like to bring to light?
Jessica: In Sweden, three in four personally experience or know someone closely who experiences mental illness (Hjärnkolls annual population surveys). The National Board of Health estimates that between 20 and 40 percent of Sweden's population are living with mental illness. In this group, an estimated 10-15 percent require psychiatric treatment. According to the Social Insurance Agency, mental illness is the most common cause of sick leave. Despite the fact that mental illness is so common, it's still discriminated against.
We have several associations and organizations that work to break the taboo of mental illness, such as the National Collaboration for Mental Health (NSPH) which started in 2007 and which among other things works to ensure their members have a greater influence over the decisions taken in health care. I think there's a lot happening in the (mental health) field and we're expecting an improvement!