ShareJoy co-founder Anne-Marie Tomchak on the joy of style and seeking mental health support
Blue Monday can be an incredibly difficult day, especially for those who are suffering from mental health issues. It can leave many of us feeling even lower than before because of the permanent reminders about this ‘depressing’ day hitting us from every angle.
Instead of focusing on Blue Monday, we’re using the day to highlight a charity that is doing some pretty incredible things for the mental health community. Raising awareness, sharing our stories, and funding services all go hand in hand, but what matters is being honest.
Losing a loved one to mental health issues is a loss that causes unbearable pain. It can leave us feeling completely lost, hopeless, and just devastated. ShareJoy co-founder Marie Sullivan lost her daughter Arwen to suicide when she was only 23 years old. The harrowing loss is something we can’t even bring ourselves to imagine, but Marie and Anne-Marie Tomchak wanted to honour Arwen’s life and legacy by setting up ShareJoy. The meaning behind the initiative is incredibly moving, but what they’re doing is even more incredible.
Speaking to Her.ie, Anne-Marie revealed why they decided to set up ShareJoy.
“Arwen Sullivan is the inspiration for ShareJoy. She’s the daughter of my co-founder Marie Sullivan and sadly she died by suicide in the first few weeks of lockdown 2020. She was only 23.
“Arwen loved fashion and was very much an advocate for mental and physical health. ShareJoy was launched on Blue Monday 2021 in her memory. We’re a community and a movement dedicated to using fashion and tech as a force for good.
ShareJoy raises vital funds for suicide prevention by selling clothes donated by celebrities and designers and running pop-up events every few months.
“ShareJoy is a really constructive and uplifting way of approaching the difficult and complex issues of sustainability and mental health. It’s hard to believe that it’s three years since we launched and we’ve raised tens of thousands of euro for our charity partners,” Anne-Marie said.
Anne-Marie believes that style can do incredible things for our moods, especially if you’re ever feeling low. We know it isn’t a magical cure, but finding tools to help brighten your mood, even for a moment, can make a massive difference.
Anne-Marie set up ShareJoy with Marie Sullivan after losing her daughter to suicide
Anne-Marie shared: “What you wear can play an important role in how you feel. It also has an impact on how others perceive you. I know that if I am wearing something I feel good in, my posture and body language change. Yes, fashion can be frivolous and fun, but it’s also a very meaningful form of expression. It’s a powerful method of communication.
“I have a bubblegum pink coat that instantly spreads joy every time I wear it. Strangers stop me on the street to pass on compliments. The dopamine is coming from feeling great in the coat but also from the interactions I have while wearing it. Win-win.”
Style may help, but seeking mental health care is something we all deserve, and something we all should do, even if you don’t think you deserve it. Anne-Marie perfectly summed it up, “You don’t need to wait until you are really unwell before seeking help.”
On Blue Monday, it’s so vital to remember that it is just another day. Anne-Marie Tomchak said it’s a marketing tool that was set up by a travel company to book more holidays. Instead of focusing on the intense marketing on Blue Monday, why not focus on the magic ShareJoy is creating for the mental health movement? Their mission is to counteract the myth about it being the most depressing day of the year.
I have a bubblegum pink coat that instantly spreads joy every time I wear it.
Whether it’s Blue Monday or a random Tuesday in April, seeking help is something we should never shy away from. Anne-Marie said there are so many things we can do to help our mental health. It could be getting some fresh air, dancing in her kitchen, or wearing that bubblegum pink dress, but the best thing we can do is reach out to others when we’re feeling low.
She said: “I try not to look at entire days as being good or bad. Taking away that binary approach to how we see our days is something I learned to do after becoming a mum because it helps you remember nice moments even on days where it seems like nothing has gone to plan.”
You can learn more about ShareJoy here.