Hello there! My name is Alyse Ruriani. I care a lot about mental health...so much so that I have brought it into basically every aspect of my life! I make things related to mental health, like illustrations, design, lettering, self-help tools, and whatever else I'm feeling. I also do advocacy work by sharing my story with mental illness and recovery. Lastly, I am training to be an Art Therapist and Counselor, so I will be working to help others with their mental health through therapy! All of these aspects of my life inform one another, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love approaching mental health from both the personal and professional views, the clinical and the self-help route, and the large-scale and the intimate. I'm so glad you're here to witness it with me.
Mental Health Matters & More w/ Alyse Ruriani!
K: When did you first discover your love/passion for designing?
A: I have made art since I was a little girl. I remember I made the geometric, colorful designs and called them "Krazy Kreations" when I was younger. My nanny even bought me supplies so that I could sell them as bookmarks. In high school, I took a lot of art classes and started playing around myself with design programs. I was always the one to make flyers for school dances or t-shirt designs for events.
K: If you don't mind sharing, talk about where your passion for mental health advocacy stemmed from?
A: It stemmed from my own experiences with mental illness. I was really struggling in high school and felt a lot of shame around it. When I went to college, I decided I wasn't going to hide it anymore because it had been such a big part of my life, and I didn't feel like people should have to be quiet about their mental health.
K: What quote or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?
A: I really love quotes, it is so hard to pick! One that will always be important to me is from a poem by Neil Hilborn that I have tattooed on me. It says: "I saw the future, and in it, I was alive." I think it just really reminds me to do what I need to do in order to live a fulfilling life that keeps me alive.
K: What characteristics do you most admire in other creative women?
A: I would say I love when women can be assertive and set boundaries. Women are often scrutinized for doing those things and labelled bossy or bitchy for just being assertive, so I really admire when women fight against that. We need to be able to set boundaries and say what we need when speaking with clients, followers, and relationships.
K: As a mental health advocate, what are some common misconceptions that you hear when it comes to the topic of mental health?
A: A lot of people think that mental health is strictly biological, but it is not. It is a mix of biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. It's not as simple as a chemical in your head, because everything affects our brain chemistry and our emotional/mental wellbeing.
K: Why do you feel that mental health is not openly discussed in today's society?
A: I think people are afraid of being judged and deemed as "less than." There are still a lot of people who don't even believe in mental illness, so it's difficult to feel like you can share your story safely.
K: Do you believe in therapy as a healthy form of mental wellness?
A: Yes! I think therapy is great. There are so many different theoretical approaches, so I really feel like there is a type of therapy for almost everyone! It just takes some time to really find a good fit. Also, therapy can be very inaccessible, as can most mental health care. It's a privilege to be able to go.
K: In moments of self-doubt and adversity, what are ways that you build yourself back up to tackle the world again?
A: Retreating to my support network of friends, family, and my partner. I will look at nice messages I have saved from people sharing how I/my work has helped them. Recharging myself in whatever way I need.
K: In honor of #SoulfulSunday, what are ways that you feed your soul?
A: Having good conversations with friends and family, creating artwork, taking baths, pulling tarot cards, watching Grey's Anatomy.
K: What encouraging words would you give someone who may be battling with mental illness?
A: You will find ways to get through the tough times. Look for the ways in which you can utilize what you've gone through. You're not alone in this.
K: How was mental health discussed in your home growing up?
A: We did not really discuss it until I went through it. My parents were afraid for me to share my story because they didn't want people judging them or me, which makes sense due to the stigma around us. They have learned SO much over the years, as have I, which has been really beautiful to watch. My mom now has more knowledge to be able to talk to other parents who may have a child going through it.
K: The world is raving over your Self-Care Bingo including the amazing Viola Davis! What was your inspiration behind creating this?
A: I had seen bingo cards before, and I wanted to make one myself. I think a lot about self care and how sometimes it is hard to remember to do it, so I thought bingo would be a fun way to make it tangible.
K: As someone who is a huge mental health advocate, how do you believe that mental health issues are affecting today's youth?
A: A lot of kids struggle with mental health issues. It is hard to say if it's gotten worse or if it is just more talked about today. Either way, I think that adolescence is a really difficult time. It feels like everything is the end of the world. My mom said that when I was 16, I sat on our driveway and said, "Mom, I ruined my life." I felt like my life was over because I was struggling with my mental health and was missing things at school because of it. Adolescents don't have as much emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills as adults, so when things happen it all feels like a crisis. I think kids need to be learning about mental health from a young age and need to be taught coping skills.
K: Do you believe that religion or culture influences how our society views mental health? If so, how?
A: Of course! So many things affect how we see it, and different cultures/religions have different attitudes towards it, which can sometimes be a barrier.
K: Are you working on any new projects in the future? We want to know!
A: Yes! I'm looking into publishing another book, possibly, and of course more products with my designs.
K: In today's society, this is a huge time for entrepreneurs! Tell us more about your current job/jobs, and how did you get to where you are today in your career?
A: Right now I am a full time graduate student and I do my freelanced design and online shop on the side. It's hard balancing it all, but it's awesome to be doing it. I got here by consistently sharing my work, utilizing social media, and meeting other people.
K: What are your thoughts on mental illness being portrayed in the media? Do you feel that it is portrayed accurately?
A: There are always going to be bad portrayals, but there will also be good ones. I think it's important to show them accurately and in ways that relate to the person watching. It is also important to be responsible in our portrayals, and try to show some hope in the darkness.
K: How can readers discover more about you and your work? :)
A: They can follow me on Instagram, @alyserurianidesign and check out my website, www.alyseruriani.com.
Thank you so much for offering to be apart of #SoulfulSunday! I love finding powerful and inspiring women kicking ass in the world, and it is really inspiring to have each and every one of you ladies on my segment discussing real issues in our society and also highlighting your goals, dreams, and how you achieved the success that you achieved today. I am truly honored to have you as one of those powerhouses, and I can't wait to have you on my next segment in the future! It was truly a pleasure interviewing with you, and I love all the amazing things you are doing in the community with your art and advocacy! Thank you all for reading, and thank you for allowing me to share my soul with yours! Happy #SoulfulSunday!
Welcome to the launch of my new book blog! Thank you all soooo much for reading and I can't wait to hear your thoughts, ideas and comments! Enjoy! :)