Last year, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting an amazing woman who's vision for mental health and the creative arts became reality. DON'T JUST STARE is London's new Mental Health Platform, raising awareness through creativity. Here I speak to the Goddess behind it all, Ms. Nicole de Leiburne ("NDL").
Hi Nicole, can you tell the readers about yourself?
NDL: My name is Nicole, I am 24 and a Summer baby, living in West London with my beautiful girlfriend and puppy.
So what is DON'T JUST STARE and where did it all begin?
NDL: DON'T JUST STARE is a new creative platform based in London, raising awareness for Mental Health Illnesses, through events, workshops, film and festival pop-ups.
That's amazing, so what are your own experiences with mental health? What prompted you to create the platform?
NDL: When I was 17, I experienced my first panic attack. I was diagnosed with PTSD and severe anxiety and depression, which made it increasingly difficult to leave the house and live life with happiness...
Your platform promotes Creativity and the Arts. Why do you think creativity is so important for those with living with mental illnesses?
NDL: I believe creativity can benefit everybody because it is simply universal, we can all be creative. Whether you are listening to music, playing music, singing in your bedroom, singing in the street, taking note of the art of everyday conversation, taking photographs, cooking up a healthy meal from scratch, reading a book, writing a poem, all of these things are incredibly creative and they can hugely make us feel good inside. I think we all need to become more aware, that we can all be creative and do more of it!
You're so right, all of the above can be so therapeutic and calming for the mind. How much of an impact do you think your platform will make on people's lives?
NDL: Picasso once said "We were all born Artists, the problem is how to remain one, once we grow up". This has stuck with me the moment I read it and it continues to be a strong message within our ethos at DON'T JUST STARE.
What projects do you have coming up?
NDL: We have some incredibly exciting projects emerging at DON'T JUST STARE. We are currently working on our Wellness Programme of workshops for the public which we will be launching this summer in Shoreditch. We are also looking to work with schools, colleges, universities and businesses in and around London to deliver our Wellness Programme. We also host a forward-thinking series of seasonal events, showcasing musicians, artists and speakers who have all suffered from Mental Health Illnesses and use creativity as their outlet.
What do you hope for the future for DON'T JUST STARE?
NDL: Our aim is to build a huge creative platform and community, where people feel safe to share experiences and meet new people. We believe nobody should feel alone through difficult times in life. We aim to break the stigma and show people that it's ok not to be ok and creativity can make you feel damn good.
If people want to get involved, how can they contact you?
NDL: If you would like to get involved or just want to say hello, please get in touch at email@example.com
And lastly, if you have 5 things to say to your younger self, what would they be?
NDL: If I had 5 things to say to my younger self, it would be -
3) Learn Spanish and keep it up
4) Don't be so hard on yourself
5) It's seriously going to be OK
I hope if anyone is reading this and has suffered from difficult times, you know that you are not alone and we are here to help in a non-clinical exciting way.
TALKING TO STRANGERS SERIES