Given the stigma surrounding mental illness, it may seem pretty radical to wear your condition on your sleeve. But that's exactly what graphic designer Michelle Hammer wants you to do.
Hammer is the founder of Schizophrenic.NYC, a company that sells things like T-shirts, bracelets, and coffee mugs that bring awareness to mental illnesses.
Hammer herself was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 22. Now 28, the New York City native founded Schizophrenic.NYC as a way to start conversations, and reduce stigmas and misconceptions surrounding mental health. Her clothes help the community monetarily too, as a portion of the profits is donated to organizations that help the mentally ill population of NYC.
Hammer was inspired to start Schizophrenia.NYC in May 2015 after seeing a homeless man on the subway that she suspected also had schizophrenia. The man was talking to himself, a behavior Hammer is very familiar with, and she saw herself in him.
"I wondered to myself, 'If I didn't have the help from my family, friends and doctor, then I could easily be homeless too,' " Hammer told The Mighty. "I wanted to create something of my own that I could be proud of, and announce to everyone that I live with a mental illness. I wanted to come up with a way to raise awareness for mental illness in New York City, because I don't like how most New Yorkers associate mental illness with homelessness and the word 'crazy.' "
Currently, Schizophrenia.NYC offers a few different designs on their merchandise. Some of the designs created by Hammer are based on a a Rorschach test, an inkblot test commonly used during psychological examinations. Other items have slogans like "Don't be paranoid, you look great," and "It's not a delusion. You are incredible," written across them.