Why I designed a Nike sneaker that raises awareness about mental health

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When I was away from home, I did not feel safe because I suffered from severe homesickness, which can put a strain on my mental health. But with the help of my therapist, I began to tackle these issues by starting small and staying with my grandmother. Once I felt more comfortable with it, I slept at a friend’s house, then slept at a friend’s house who lived further away, and ended up feeling more comfortable and spend the night in basketball camps.

Fast forward to 2013: I was in my final year of college, majoring in psychology, when I experienced my second episode of mental health issues. The cause? A break. The breakup left me with a range of emotions: sadness and anger, which then culminated in depression. My partner had cheated on me, which was very hurtful and made me feel worthless. I felt like I wasn’t good enough and that I would never find someone I loved as much as I loved that person. After this happened I blamed myself and gave up trying in school, gained weight and felt completely broken.

Feeling like I was never going to get out of the fog of depression, I started seeing a therapist again. It was through these therapy sessions that I learned to be more aware of my feelings and to find ways to feel like myself again and move on with my life. It was because of these experiences that I realized that I didn’t just want to be a mental health advocate; I wanted to help people with a more hands-on approach. From that point on, I decided to move to New York to study at New York University and study social work.

Moving to New York City for school inspired me to find a new start and grow in ways I never imagined. And now not only am I working towards my professional goals, it has been an amazing experience meeting so many other sneaker enthusiasts as well as women who play basketball.

After getting my MSW (Masters in Social Work), I started working as a full time psychotherapist. As rewarding as it was to help people, I realized that I myself needed an outlet to take care of myself. So I started nurturing my creative side and started using one of my favorite platforms, Instagram, to share photos of things I really liked: sneakers and style. I loved how quickly it got me out of my comfort zone, but there were also some not so good things with the territory.

Eventually, I found myself obsessed with “following” other influencers on Instagram, feeling that I absolutely had to have the last few drops of sneakers and represent every streetwear label, especially the high-profile versions. I started comparing myself to others and feeling like we were in constant competition: who had the rarest sneaker? Who wore the hottest fit? At one point, I started to feel insecure about my profession because I thought it was not considered “cool”. In a twisted way, I felt I needed to redouble my efforts to create this character online to gain respect within the sneaker community – which I can say now is definitely not.


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