Name: Taylor Street
Instagram: Personal: @_taystreet Blog: @countryhipster__
City: Salt Lake City(-ish), Utah
Fav thing about your city: The views! We’re nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, so no matter where you are in the valley, you can look up and see the ridges and peaks reach up to meet the sky. Plus, you’re never more than about 30 minutes from fresh air and aspen trees—the perfect antidote for shitty days and post-panic attack blues.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I am weirdly obsessed with cheese, I make stained glass windows for fun, I own 76 pairs of shoes, I have never seen Space Jam, I lived in Germany for a few months, and I wholeheartedly believe Harry Potter should have married Luna Lovegood instead of Ginny Weasley.
What is your connection to mental illness?
I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and self-harm. I started having panic attacks about three years ago, during my last semester of college. I had NO clue what was going on—I kind of figured all the crying, shaking, hyperventilating, and puking was just the stress I felt about graduating and finding a big-girl job manifesting itself, so I never told anyone and never sought help. The panic attacks and incessant overthinking only got worse, and eventually I resorted to cutting to try and feel a little better.
Fast forward a little over a year. By that time I had a big-girl job and a big-girl apartment. I was doing everything I was “supposed” to do but I still felt SO MUCH darkness and worry. I had grown to hate everything about myself and my life. I constantly beat myself up for never being able to feel happy or relaxed or content even though my life was, by most accounts, just fine.
One day I stumbled upon an article about Wear Your Label, and as I read the article and looked through WYL's website and social media feeds, I remember feeling so peaceful and relieved and EXCITED. For the first time in months! I just remember thinking it was so great that there was a company out there telling people that it is OKAY to struggle. And on top of that, I felt reassured seeing so many regular, everyday, COOL people joining the movement and sharing their own stories.
And so, I ordered a few shirts, scheduled an appointment with a therapist, and started my journey toward getting well. It's been a little over a year and a half since I decided to take control of my mental health, and I'd be lying if I said the road had been easy. I still have panic attacks. I still obsess over little things and overthink pretty much everything. I’m only a few months self-harm free. I’ve cycled through five therapists. I still have so many down moments and hard times, and at times I wonder if I’ll ever be able to put the panic and fear and hurt behind me for good. But through it all, I can honestly say I'm grateful for all the ups and downs and I like to think I've learned to appreciate the little things in life a little more because of them.
What does your everyday look like?
It all starts with me hitting the snooze button one too many times, rushing through my morning routine, and belting country music at the top of my lungs during my commute (yep I love country music, don’t @ me). I then spend my workday stalking people on Instagram, playing on Facebook, and looking at pretty pictures all day long. (I’m the social media manager for my company, so it’s totally acceptable!)
After work, I switch up my commute karaoke music to rap or heavy metal to set the mood for a workout. Sweat has been my saving grace my entire life—I grew up playing sports, so my brain is hard wired to crave physical activity. I honestly can’t imagine trying to overcome my mental health challenges without endorphins! Right now I’m on a running kick (training for my second half marathon!), but I’m also a sucker for a good tennis match, spin class, or hike in the mountains.
From there, I unwind. My mornings are always rushed, so I HAVE to take time in the evenings to relax and rejuvenate. Anything from a yummy dinner and cozy snuggle sesh to a bowl of buttery popcorn and Bob’s Burgers marathon usually does the trick!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
1—Love yourself enough to try.
2—Be humble enough to let people help you.
For the longest time I didn’t love myself enough to even try to get better. When I didn’t feel like going to therapy, I didn’t go. When I felt like cutting, I cut. When I felt like skipping a meal, I skipped. When I felt like lying to my family or friends about how I was doing, I lied.
Until one day I realized that putting myself last was doing absolutely no good whatsoever, and building walls between myself and the people who loved me was doing a lot more harm than good—zero plus zero does not equal one. Self-sabotage does not lead to healing. Isolation does not lead to recovery.
And so, I would tell my scared, confused 22-year-old self just to try. To be kind to herself. To let others in and to let them love her. Because love truly is the key to kicking mental illness right in the ass.
Who is a Role Model to you?
I look up to anyone and everyone who struggles with a mental illness. Goodness knows it isn’t easy to fight an invisible disease that even the most educated doctors and scholars don’t fully understand.
But more than that, I look up to the caregivers. The friends, family, fiancés, and everyone in between who spend so many nights and days worrying about the anxiety, the depression, the eating disorder, the mania, the addictions. The ones who ask questions, who listen, who try to understand. I wouldn’t be where I am today—and I sure as hell wouldn’t have made the progress I have made—without my support system, and so I think I’ll always look up to people who really, truly give a shit about others.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
Not to get all deep and psychological here, but there are multiple parts of our “self.” We have a social self, a mental self, an emotional self, a spiritual self, and obviously a physical self. And so, every Sunday I try do at least one thing to care for every aspect of myself.
For my social self I might call a friend or go visit a family member. For my mental self I might read a book or play a few rounds of sudoku or go through and finally delete the twelve billion emails in my inbox. For my spiritual self I usually attend church, then I take some time throughout the day to pray and catch up with the big man upstairs. For my physical self I pretty much always sleep, and then treat myself to a few of my favorite snacks. And for my emotional self I might watch my favorite movie, write things I like about myself in a journal, or even have a good cry (that actually happens more often than not and I honestly love it).
Long story short: each Self-Care Sunday looks different, but if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s NO PANTS! I am ALL about comfort on Sundays, so real pants come nowhere near my body on Sundays. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Photos by Alexis Lesa