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Dedicated to self-harm recovery, insight and support.

Designing A Difference

This month our theme is dissatisfaction. There are many things that can lead us to be frustrated with life, those feelings can be hard to handle and a deep rut to get out of. However, once in a while our need for change can lead us to do something incredible in the face of life’s challenges. Final Year Student, Ruth McCallum did just that...

"I'm a Fashion Design Student and I chose to base my final collection on mental health. It is something I feel strongly about, having struggled in this area and I wanted to use fashion as a way to normalise it and raise awareness of the young people going through the same thing.

My work which is in denim, leather and embroidery focuses in part on self-harm. It became a way for me to release some of the emotions I felt dealing with bulimia and depression over the past 3 years.  I used to (and still do at times) feel very self-conscious about having scars, but using it as a very obvious detail on some of my garments made me address the issue head on and talk about it. An unexpected result was feeling my self-harm is more accepted through people appreciating the work I was doing.

It has been good to express my feelings in a creative way it but it’s also been an extremely difficult process.  Starting my final year I felt I was “better” but after a few months I began to struggle again with the issues of eating, depression and self-harm and most scarily, it was worse than ever. Maybe because of stress or increasing pressure, I began to think I couldn’t do it and I wouldn’t get “better” again, that terrified me the most. I put pressure on myself wanting to do the subject justice and make something positive come from it but that’s me; always wanting to do well or fearing I’m not good enough.

But I did it and now my collection is featuring at Graduate Fashion week in London! If you’d have asked me about 2 months ago, I could’ve never seen it coming. It is a great opportunity as I really hope it can raise awareness in some way. Even if just one person takes something away from seeing it I will feel like it has had some kind of impact.

Mental health should be more talked about, and doing so helps others, as the more people I speak to, the more of a “normal” part it is of many people’s lives.  I would hope that if someone were to read this going through similar feelings, they could feel that it is okay to talk about how you feel and that doing so will help as it will not be trapped in your head.