Holy City Sinner
@HOLYCITYSINNER /HOLYCITYSINNER @HOLYCITYSINNER HOLYCITYSINNER.COM
SEE CHRISTIAN'S POST ABOUT FIND YOUR FIT ON HOLY CITY SINNER HERE!
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU'D LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I'd be happy for people to know that Holy City Sinner is my passion project - it's something that I do for fun. The things I talk about are the things that I support and appreciate; there is no other agenda than shining a light on something I think you should check out.
HOW DID HOLY CITY SINNER COME TO BE?
I moved here 11 years ago, and after a few years, I started to realize that there was so much more to do than you might be aware of through traditional news and media sources. I thought there was a chance for me to start a blog to talk about things that I really like doing in Charleston, from the big events we all know about to the small ones that maybe you've never heard of.
When I originally started I wanted to stay anonymous which led to the creation of the Holy City Sinner. I knew that I wanted to play off of the 'Holy City' nickname for Charleston because there is so much history that the name represents, but I also wanted to reflect the side of the city that's a bit darker and likes to party. It's a fun name that represents both sides of the city. Thankfully people seem to like it and get that it's tongue in cheek.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING BOTH HOLY CITY SINNER AND CHRISTIAN SENGER?
It was hard at first because I felt like I needed to go to every event but since so many stay the same year to year, it became easier for me to pick and choose where I want to go so I'm not always out and about. As long as I am still providing information to people, I've come to realize I don't need to stretch myself too thin. That said, I won't give a personal opinion about something unless I've been there myself.
For me, this is where my passion for mental health first came in. I had to recognize when I was getting in the weeds when it came to pushing content, needing to take a step back and knowing that I don't need to be everything to everyone.
AS YOU'VE DEVELOPED HOLY CITY SINNER, HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY IMPACT ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
Yes. I've dealt with having social anxiety for some time and starting Holy City Sinner pushed me (after being anonymous for a while) to work on that because I wanted to be more involved, and I was getting questions about who is HCS. It got me out of my comfort zone by having to meet with new people and try new things. It helped me to realize that there was so much that I could do that I may have ordinarily been too scared or nervous to do prior.
All in all, the good has far outweighed the bad. There are still some minor stresses but I have to come back to knowing that this is something that I do for fun and it's okay to take a step back and say 'no' to some things.
Do you feel that having had this experience coming into your own as holy city sinner has allowed you a unique perspective from which to address mental health?
For sure. Having to address my own mental health has shown me that there are resources out there to combat this stuff. A lot of times the hardest part with mental health is the first step of recognizing that you need help and that things can get better, and having been pushed to do that myself, I know that's possible. I know it's not easy and I try to support in any way that I can by sharing that message.
The passing of my friend Richard "Box" Bachschmidt last year has gotten me to be a lot more active in talking about mental health.
Do you find that having open, candid conversations about mental health with people that you either do or don'tknow is becoming easier as mental health becomes more nationally discussed?
It's easy to talk to someone who is going through it themselves. The real struggle is getting those people who have problems to take that first step to find someone to talk with. The other struggle is getting people who have not had firsthand experience themselves with mental health to understand the perspective and challenges of those who have. Flippant comments and casual remarks that are so common in everyday conversation also need to be a topic of change and discussion for those not affected by mental health problems - saying things like "oh, I'm so OCD, I need my desk to be perfectly straight" may be hurtful or discouraging to someone struggling with a real condition. How do we got those 'unaffected' people to a place where they can have supportive conversations with those that need them?
I find that in most cases, people are willing to talk if someone is ready to listen. What's disappointing is that so often the barriers to getting access to a therapist - or mental health professional - are so high that we have a lot of people in need who are ready to take the step, falling through the cracks. It's not just financial barriers; it's stigma, it's needing time off from work, it's lack of availability of those mental health professionals.
keeping in mind those barriers, what do you think about 'telehealth' for mental health?
I think it's great. I've used BetterHelp, which is an online platform. It was great being able to talk to someone through messages and video chat without having to go to an office, it worked well for me. That said, it still has a financial barrier and it's only weekly, but in the end it does work out to be much cheaper than traditional in-office options. The other thing to keep in mind too is that even though this telehealth option is 24/7, once you're assigned to someone, you still have to wait for them to be online so you can't always get immediate help.
in terms of awareness/education, on whom do you feel that responsibility should be placed, i.e. should employers take more ownership of employee mental health or is it more appropriate to lean in on society as a whole, expecting people to be people and support each other?
It's tough, where does it start? A lot of employers are doing a better job of treating mental health just like they would treat other physical disease but at the end of the day I do think it comes down to people being people, people helping others.
People being people though, really should also apply to those in the healthcare field overseeing the barriers that people are facing - cost, insurance, politics. Whether it's finding a way to fix those issues, or even to find ways to work more effectively within the system, we just need people to step up and they do. There are many examples of non-profits and small businesses popping up to meet the needs but they can be few and far between for a rapidly growing issue and sometimes it's difficult to understand what exactly it is they are out there doing.
you've been very open about your mental health. what's been the response from people when you talk about it?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I think that, for me personally, my social anxiety is a lot easier to talk about publicly than some other mental health issues. There is a lot less stigma with social anxiety than there are with suicidal thoughts, depression, substance misuse, eating disorders, etc. Of course with any conversation about mental health, there is always that concern that after people know, they will constantly check on you and that can just add to the issue or the problem.
I have noticed that if I tweet something, people are generally very quick to share it. If they can, they will donate to a certain cause. I consider myself fortunate.
speaking of response, and circling back to earlier when you mentioned your friend 'box', what was the response from the community after his death?
He had been a part of the community for so long because of his radio show, and he was very open about his struggles on-air, so people that had been fans of his were already somewhat aware. It was still shocking but people had a good idea about what he was working with. The response was amazing. I don't remember reading or hearing anything that wasn't a good take or message coming from this. It's weird to say that because of course it wasn't a positive moment but as far as how people reacted to it, there was so much understanding.
you've been in this community for 11 years, so what do you see as our region's biggest opportunity to make a positive impact in mental health?
I actually asked that on Twitter and it ranged from people who don't understand it, to the cost associated with seeking help...it ran the gambit.
What can the commnity do? Just learn as much as you can and be more open to understanding the stuggles that others may be going through. I think that with education and understanding, no matter what their job is, it will help everyone make better policy decisions, advocate, educate others, donate, etc. Those things are really what it's going to take to change the status quo, and fix the difficulties with the healthcare system right now. It all starts with education.
if what you've said resonates with people, do you mind if they reach out to you on twitter (or other social media) to share their thoughts?
Yea, absolutely. When people tell me their stories and open up, or share another perspective that helps me to learn more. Just because I've had my own experience and have a current understanding, that doesn't mean that I know everything. It's great to have new perspectives. The more I learn the better. I want to remind them though, that I am not an end point for seeking help. I'm happy to help in any way that I can but I'm more of a mental health advocate than anything else. This is my personal education, not my profession.
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Find Your Fit is an interactive, community-driven lifestyle campaign designed to improve the health and well-being of you and the people you hold dear. Healthy Tri-County – a regional initiative to improve health and wellbeing in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties – wants to give you the resources to make an impact in an area of health that is important to you, whether that’s eating healthier or making sure that your family has access to all of the health services they need.