Name: Rachel Brady
City: Pensacola, Florida
Fav thing about your city: The white sandy beaches
Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I grew up on a vineyard!
What is your connection to mental illness?
I’ve been a high achiever ever since I can remember, leading to many expectations on how I should behave and look. This led to the development of anxiety and depression, particularly throughout high school and college. There would be so many times where I’d look at a situation as an “all or nothing” experience and wonder why I was the only one freaking out. My mental health took even more of a turn in college, when I started drinking heavily and abusing alcohol. As both a sexual and emotional abuse survivor, it was the only way I could think of to cope that seemed socially acceptable. Thankfully now, I have used fitness and social media as platforms to connect storytelling with mental health advocacy.
What does your everyday look like?
Being a military wife, I’m thankful to have a fairly flexible schedule in terms of everyday activity. My main passions are fitness and content creation, so I make sure to exercise daily and leverage both my story and what I learn to form blog posts, videos, pictures, and anything else that is conducive to my message. One of the most incredible facets of this social media era is how quickly you can connect with anyone, simply because you resonate with their story. It’s such an honor to converse with those who are either just starting their mental health journey or those who have words of wisdom for me.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Oh my…where do even begin? For starters, I would say that no one else really knows what they’re doing. That was the main thing – I would isolate myself and believe that all of this was just my fault, so it made it very difficult to want to reach out and ask for help. The second piece of advice is to find something that allows you to channel your emotions. Never listen to those who say that art, music, writing, etc. are meaningless; they open the door to so much relief and it can be incredibly cathartic. Keep throwing until something sticks.
Who is a Role Model to you?
The circle of friends that I’ve kept in touch with for the past few years is nothing short of incredible. We all came from the same organization, have extremely similar values, yet have managed to carve a path in our own unique manner. I was so nervous about how my friendships would last after graduating college, but these women have taught me that no matter the distance, creating genuine and raw connections with each other transcends any city or country. They aren’t only my bridesmaids, but my lifesavers.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
If I feel energetic enough to get a workout in, I absolutely love waking up after a sober weekend and getting my sweat on. Besides that, there is plenty of cuddling with my husband, more stuffed animals than I’d like to admit, and listening to my favorite music before bed. Sundays are so vital towards setting the tone for the rest of the week, so it’s absolutely okay to be a little selfish in that regard!
Photos by Abigail O'Laughlin