Depression can be awful, debilitating and exhausting. Depression can leave you feeling as though leaving your bed, your room, your house is too much. Depression knows no boundaries and can impact us all, whether you’re supporting a loved one with depression, or tackling depression yourself – depression can creep up and have a huge impact on our lives.
There is no ‘quick’ way to fight depression, depression is an illness that can affect people differently – speaking from experience I know that depression can be pretty destructive – depression can make any task seem too overwhelming and difficult. Thankfully though there are plenty of people who are willing to help support and guide those who are experiencing the turmoil of depression.
Off the Scale is a not for profit social enterprise, based in Birmingham (UK) that works to raise awareness of the stigmas surrounding depression. What’s unique about Off the Scale is that it is a vintage clothing shop, with a team of lovely, welcoming staff and volunteers, all of whom are working to break down the barriers created by the stigma of depression. They also have a wonderful bus, packed full of vintage clothing – which travels around to different events, raising awareness of depression. Diminishing the stigma.
I had the chance to explore both the shop and bus, and was completely taken aback by the wonderful team, and their passion and dedication to Off the Scale. On Sunday August 14th the team held a launch party for their new website. I was thrilled to be invited along, and had a lovely time meeting the staff and volunteers, and of course…trying on clothes! I really struggle with low self-esteem when it comes to body image, and usually hate trying on clothing when shopping – so much so that I hate going clothes shopping with family and friends. So, I was a little apprehensive to try stuff on at first, but immediately I found a dress that I loved (and made me feel awesome).
I was then impressed even more when the staff started helping me find clothes that I felt confident in – normally I’d run from help like this, but the staff were so lovely (and so good at finding stuff that suited me!)
What I found incredibly refreshing, and encouraging was when one the staff members began talking about depression and mental health, speaking about her own experiences, and discussing the purpose of Off the Scale. The staff really are lovely and ready to encourage others to talk up about mental illness. They are working with Time to Change to raise awareness of the stigmas surrounding depression.
Off the Scale is building upon the links between creativity and depression; many of the roles of running a vintage clothing shop, ‘such as creating up-cycled articles, learning to sort and grade clothing for a niche market and helping to design and refit the shops and popup shops’ are brilliant ways to work creatively, and break down the barriers of depression. Off the Scale will train and employ young people from Birmingham who experience depression – offering them the chance to use creativity as a tool for fighting mental illness.
The team will also be taking their bus to student campuses, festivals and various other events throughout the West Midlands – bringing their awareness project (and wonderful clothes) to more and more people throughout the year.
I’m really really excited by the work Off the Scale are doing, and if you are in the Birmingham area I’d definitely recommend popping along to the shop! You can also check out their website here: http://www.offthescalevintage.com/