“I couldn’t imagine my life sober,” neuroscience graduate student Apryl Pooley said as she began her poem at Embrace the Rain night.
She shared her story of post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually assaulted as a child and her road to recovery after suicide attempts.
Pooley’s experience was one of many shared in the Erickson Hall Kiva on Wednesday night, as performers shared poems, testimonials and musical acts, all geared toward the subject of mental illness.
The third annual event was part of the wider Mental Health Awareness Week, an initiative started in cooperation between a number of student groups on campus that aimed to remove the stigma associated with mental health and bring things like depression and suicide out in the open.
Embrace the Rain night was started two years ago by MSU alumnus Tyler Trahan, who shared his experience of depression and suicidal thoughts.
“It doesn’t get better overnight,” he said. “It’s such a process.”
He said he was proud of how much the event has grown since he began it and said he hoped it would continue far after the night ended.
“Embrace the Rain is not just a one night event, but a supportive community of all those involved,” he said.
A Danish word was tossed around frequently at the event, “hygge” which was stated to mean the ability “to find happiness, warmth, in everyday things,” and as something that could make a cold, hard winter more bearable. Attendees were invited to write down their own personal “hygge.”
The MSU Student Health Advisory Council sponsored the event and it was organized by microbiology senior Karalyn Kiessling, the event coordinator for SHAC. She said the main goals of the event were to provide awareness for students with mental illness and to urge those afflicted to get help.
SHAC president, history, philosophy and sociology of science senior Marisa Martini, said there has been a lot of progress when it comes to getting mental health issues out in the open.
“I don’t think that students are afraid to talk about it, though there may be some that have faced stigma due to their mental illness,” Martini said.
She said a stigma has existed toward mental illness, as it was looked at as deviant behavior and it can be isolating if society says a certain behavior is outside of the norm. She said those stigmas, while not nearly as prevalent, have to be broken down.
“I think we’re really starting to embrace it and we’re starting to realize that this is something that a lot of our students do struggle with,” Martini said.