Name: Richard Cadrouce Based in: Brooklyn, New York. Age: 28
I’m a very loud and insecure person who’s able to create connections with others in order to have fun for a bit or being friends forever. I’m very passionate about life and feel new emotions constantly. I love creating beautiful things– being able to look or listen to them after a few days and say: YOU DID THAT. I love being inspired by random things or situations, am hardworking and always open to learning and trying new things. Oh, and I’m a Scorpio.
What are some mental health habits you actively lean on during the week to take care of yourself?
My biggest challenge has been dancing with my body dysmorphic disorder; that makes me feel out of focus for hours or days, unable to work on my creative projects. Thanks to therapy, I’ve discovered that this part of me that I don’t quite enjoy, hide or ignore sometimes, is actually my most amazing self.
Let’s call it “Fiona”. All the inspiration, hard work, research, and productivity comes to my soul thanks to Fiona. Every time I’m getting anxious about negative thoughts or emotions, I start thinking about all the things I’ve been able to create and accomplish thanks to Fiona.
The skincare routine, morning or night, is a great habit to be present, feel loved, feel your skin and remember that you’re taking care of yourself.
As a part of my monthly activities, running at Central Park makes me feel free, in control, it helps me a lot with lowering my levels of anxiety.
Thrifting clothes is magic!
Writing music on the train while listening to random instrumental tracks
Taking pictures of everything with my phone makes me create a “life narrative” on my phone and watching the content a few weeks later makes me feel joy.
I try to spend time to discover new musicians and artists every week so I get inspired by their aesthetics or work, and it also keeps my mind busy, in a way.
At what point in your life did you begin to actively and intentionally take care of your mental health?
I grew up with very difficult family circumstances– I had very young parents and a lot of tension growing up since I was a little kid.
I started taking care of my mental health when I was 13 years old, when I had to get therapy because I was kicked out of High School for bad behavior. I thought that I was being a “rebel” creating a “revolution” during classes, being rude to teachers and making graffiti on the school walls (which now, seems like such a silly reason), when I was actually screaming to be seen and recognized by my family. Thanks to therapy I was able to get better in terms of my mental health.
I’ve started actively doing therapy since I was 25 years old, which was when I could finally afford it and do it consistently.
Explain how you experience anxiety. Do you experience constant worry? Panic attacks? Stress from overthinking situations?
My experience with anxiety most of the time is about overthinking situations that haven’t happened yet or things out of my control. My anxiety convinces me that “I know” what’s gonna happen, and when that happens, I can’t sleep, work, talk, use my phone or computer, cook, organize and clean my room, express my feelings or enjoy other people’s company. I’ve literally locked myself in my head for hours and days.
Also, constant worry about random scenarios that I’m convinced are “totally possible”, lead me to anxiety. For example: “the L train is going to randomly impact another train and we all gonna d*e” so I’m sitting there trying to listen to the music on my Airpods and ignore my thoughts, but sometimes even after breathwork–10 inhalations/exhalations, it’s impossible to not feel scared.
When you decided to pursue therapy, what were the reasons for which you decided you needed additional support? Why have you continued on with therapy, and have you stayed with the same therapist?
I started because I felt that talking to my family and friends wasn’t enough, and that was not because of them, but because of me. I was hiding parts of my self, and not speaking the whole truth.
I started a new life in the US after so much trauma back in Venezuela, and I felt so alone. Having my father be in the same city and not being able to have his support was very difficult, so I’ve convinced myself that I could make things work in this country and I knew that therapy could be a great help with this as well.
Finding the right therapist is a Journey. Whoever reads this, let me tell you, it is O.K. if you have not found the right therapist yet. You need to be patient and open to trying new people; it’s just like shopping in some way.
I found a new therapist around two months ago and so far it’s been good. I feel like I can be myself around him.
How has your family reacted to you talking about mental health, anxiety, therapy, or your family more publicly?
For my family, mental health is not a taboo, but I don’t think it’s something we’re regularly talking about either. Communication for us is kind of unusual, but I’m still working on that.
I believe that if I’m the one who’s starting to be more sincere and open about how I feel to my family, they’re going to start doing the same and reciprocate, and hopefully we can work on and tackle things as a family.
Here, I feel that I have a better conversational dynamic with my 14 years old sister who struggles similarly with mental health, but with different concerns/situations.
It’s wonderful that you are using your platform to be vocal about your daily life specific to mental health. There also been a big change since 2019-20 (the pandemic) in the way the public sees open conversations around mental health. What are you seeing amongst the beauty or influencer community? Previously, admitting to struggling with mental health might have meant losing a contract or work, and facing a backlash from fans or supporters.
I’ve watched a few of my friends of the same industry talking about mental health, sharing tips, stories or even little “quotes” that help make those experiencing some kind of distress during their day feel seen, so it’s definitely a topic on the table amongst the beauty, fashion, and influencer community. I do feel that our community could be louder though.
Personally, talking about mental health on my IG stories and posts has not made me feel that I’ve lost a contract or supporters, and if it’s ever happened, I never noticed.
As Influencers we need to work with brands who want to support real, authentic creators and individuals, who struggle and feel emotions, brands that see beyond the polished and well-edited picture, and recognize the hard work behind every post.
Mental health is still stigmatized in so many industries not only in ours, that’s why I definitely feel like it’s so important to talk about it and normalize things, so we don’t feel alone when having episodes of any kind.
(optional and only if you are comfortable with sharing this publicly!)
Have you on the user-interacting side, or when interacting with businesses ever had your mental health be the source for discrimination?
I’ve not been subject to discrimination, but I have had two instances of when I couldn’t reach my best results on campaigns for two clients thanks to being under anxiety episodes. And it feels almost impossible to explain, say why a campaign was not made in time, without making it look like an excuse to the client if that makes sense.
In the last months, we’ve watched high profile athletes such as Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles withdraw from events citing poor mental health; polarized conversations around mental health being “health” again circulated media, professional, and community forums. What do you feel or believe is the reason for which many people are still against accepting that the state of one’s mental wellbeing can be a part of one’s overall health state-condition?
I was born and raised in Venezuela, and I remember trying to share with others (even family members) my experience with mental health and the C word (crazy) would come up in conversation so many times. For me, I’m not surprised that our world is still full of a lot of this kind of thinking, which could be attributed to narrow-mindedness or a willful ignorance of diversity. It’s hard for me to understand how difficult it is for people in our society to just google things like “how can I stop being homophobic,” “or insensitive,” for example.
“Information is power,” my friend Marco was saying to me the other day, how much truth there is in that small phrase. The lack of information and contextual knowledge about others’ struggles make us feel skeptical when others speak their truths. I hope we can all learn to be more emphatic with others, even when we can’t exactly relate, because that is when the magic happens.
What are some negative mental narratives that come up for you recurrently when you experience anxiety about your career, and as someone who blogs about beauty & fashion and is a professional influencer?
My negative and constant thoughts when experiencing anxiety about my career are connected to my body dysmorphic disorder (by the way: it’s also the main reason I started showing myself in front of the camera). I’d find myself comparing my content to other creators and feeling that mine is “better,” but since “I’m not beautiful and perfect” it’s not reaching the right amount of audience.
My anxiety locks me in a box screaming that I’m not successful enough because of the way I look,
my anxiety makes me doubt my talent and passion,
my anxiety pushes me away from people that I love,
my anxiety stops time in a really bad way.
These are reasons I feel responsible to talk about it on social media or with the people around me, because we collectively need to find a way out of these toxic loops.
Are you using any mental health or wellbeing apps right now? If so, can you share them with us?
Not really, those apps make me feel anxious or obligated to feel “good” or “better”. I’m still working on it.
Letters to My Younger Self: If you had any advice to give your younger self, what would it be?
Being yourself is beautiful, no matter what they taught you or what they told you. You don’t need to hide or feel shame for who you are.
You’re going to be great, happy and full of people all around you who love you and see you.
You’re important and needed in this world, your community needs you.
Your voice and opinions are important and you deserve to be loved. You deserved to be helped and taken care of.
You deserve abundance.
Make all your crazy ideas happen, now!
You’re not alone, so keep going because you’re going to be proud of yourself. You got this.
Interview and edited by Susan Yoomin Im
Follow Richard Cadrouce on Instagram.