When you're experiencing issues with mental health, some days feel like you're stuck on the struggle bus going no where special. And 27-year-old mental health activist and filmmaker Elyse Fox knows EXACTLY what you're talking about. Before she was diagnosed with depression at the age of 12, Elyse felt like something was wrong, but she couldn't quite explain what it was. "I always knew that I had something a little bit off with me," she tells Seventeen.com. "I always felt that I wasn't as happy as the other girls in my class." Even though she felt sad and alone, she didn't feel she could talk to friends or family about what was going on. "I internalized everything, every feeling, every emotion, even the painful suicidal thoughts, I just kept them to myself," she says.
As she got older, Elyse became more and more interested in filmmaking. In 2016, Elyse released a project called Conversations with Friends where she decided to get real about her mental health. "It was like my coming out party for depression," she says. After the video dropped, Elyse got countless emails and DMs from girls sharing stories of their depression and talking about how they had no one to share with.
That's when Elyse created Sad Girls Club. "It's a place where girls can just discuss their mental illnesses freely and create a community around mental illness instead of feeling ashamed of it," she says. "Our Sad Girls Club meetings are super, super fun. I'm trying to make them inviting and not like a formal therapy session." The group currently has monthly meetings that take place in New York.
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For the meeting activities, Elyse tries to get her squad feeling open and creative. "I've been using expressive art therapy to give the girls a medium to create and express themselves," she says. Some meetings are outside, picnic-style, so that members can relax and get to know one another.
Beyond the fun meetings, Elyse has a bigger goal when it comes to mental health awareness for all girls."I know that we've spent so many years trying to look picture-perfect online and holding things in," she says. "I just want promote openness and vulnerability because I feel like that's something that's frowned upon, but we're all humans and we all have emotions and that should be celebrated and not downplayed."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit their website.
As the digital deputy editor of Seventeen, I help our site director oversee content on the site and across all of our social media platforms. In 2013, I published a DIY book for beginners called InstaCraft (Ulysses Press). In 2015, I served as a jewelry designer for The Jewelry Recipe Book (Artisan). Before coming to Seventeen, I held positions at The New Yorker, Allure, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Reader's Digest and BuzzFeed.