Standard Wax

YAY Candle Feature: Tayler Tucker

YAY Candle Feature: Tayler Tucker

Standard Wax recently launched a new product that gives $5 from every candle sold directly to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit on a mission to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. Designed by Brooklyn-based design studio Yay Foundry, the candle uses the science of scent to bring just a little more happiness into this world. As part of the launch campaign, I wanted to chat with a few inspiring women about why mental health is important to them, and how it can help make our communities better.
You can shop the candle here. Stock is very limited.
Today's feature: Tayler Tucker
Who are you? What do you do? What makes you so amazing and cool?

Tayler Tucker is a born and raised desert dweller. Her cup spilleth over with wine, wit, and wanderlust. Tayler currently is the media and communications maven for Planned Parenthood Arizona. She simultaneously is training in becoming a full spectrum doula which she has tinkered with for years and finally got the gumption to do the damn thing. Outspoken, curious, constantly busy, doing it always for the culture, and being low key the goofiest grape brings joy to this "Mariah Carey of Maricopa County". Breaking bread, spilling drinks, dancing, frolicking, and bring about the revolution through revelry are her recipe for life. Also, whipping up a meal or plunging into water naked as often as humanly possible. She believes in the brilliant observation buried in Babett'es Feast: "The cure for everything is saltwater: sweat, tears, or the sea." 


Why is mental health important to you? 

I cannot fathom separating mental health from overall health. I believe that holistic health is better approach and a more true barometer of the ways we need to care for ourselves to tap into our potential and navigate this wild world. Mental health often because it is not as visible or seen on the body often finds itself as an issue cast in shadows. Mental health in our current society still maintains an air of stigma and taboo when we know the majority of humans and I would argue all humans have experienced a mental health issue. We are confronted and have to survive through ebbs and flows to be frank trauma. For me being able to be informed and tapped into my mental well being allows me to be a better functioning person both emotionally, intellectually, but also physically.


Why is mental health something that should be important to more people?
I think it should be important because its a reclaiming of your own body, head space, and power. I am committed to the radical idea that stepping into our power and whole selves requires connecting and linking our entire body with our mental, emotional, and physical space. If one piece is neglected, it will throw off the equilibrium of it all. I am extremely lucky in life. I have had and experienced trauma like everyone else but luckily have had a safety net, support system, and network to be able to process that. I realize more now than ever and pardon me but I am about to get political but that these political attacks and systems of oppression thrive off of trapping people in a mentally unhealthy space. It is that insidious. I think the hardest piece is being able to be aware of your mental fluctuations, how to speak them into acknowledgement, and coping in a way that serves the best and most genuine you. I don't think we can authentically show up and feel fully empowered without being aware of what's going on inside our heads and knowing the ripple and impact it brings to our lives, our loved ones, and our perspective.


How has focusing on your own mental health changed your life?
It saved me literally. My first bout of serious mental unhealthiness was my anorexia in 8th grade and into early high school. That age is already chockful of awkward but completely natural transformation. I happened to have a ton of mental and emotional baggage, pressures societal and imposed upon myself and I decided that coping with eating disorder behavior was the way to control that. It worked for a stint but then it took on a disturbing, uncontrollable, and devastating life of its own. It drowned out my own voice in my head for own that was obsessive and overly critically. If I hadn't been forced by my physical state to go into in patient treatment, my physical body would have deteriorated to the logic end which is death or serious injury. At that time, I lucked out having parents that gave me choice in where I went to get my treatment but also were able to be the rational decision makers and advocates for me. I think it would have been much harder if I was by myself and they didn't have the parental ability to guide me. I did the treatment and I got out and did outpatient and I relapsed. I think both of my parents sat me down and said straight up that I was facing a choice of whether or not I wanted to live, and I couldn't rise above it if I didn't make the conscious choice to get well and fight for it. That was that. I obviously went through all the usual ups and downs but I am here. Being able to do that then at a super young, tender age carries me to this day. I have confronted a whole lot of traumatic experiences from sexual assault and two rape to loss since then but it was easier. I already having been practicing, processing, and navigating my mental well-being for years. I am stronger for it and now feel more worn and ready for the struggles that come ahead. I can tell in times when I don't have the self reflection to sit with my shit and parse it out that I am ineffective. I fall into patterns that don't bring out the best me. I can't do what I want to do which is feel and be in this life as whole, genuine, and raw and to give and receive that same energy from others. 

Do you think mental health is discussed enough? 

No. We are beginning to broach the subject more but I believe because this conversation has been shrouded in different times and different societies through humanity's existence on this third rock from the sun. I feel as though we can see especially in the treatment of mental illness that we witness in celebrities that our particular western culture in the U.S. is ill equipped in how to deal with this issue. We don't have practice. It isn't until we see a huge tragic event or crisis or meltdown of someone with a blue check next to their handle that we bring up this subject. Even our language around mental health and illness is embedded with stigma and a framework that strips away an understanding tone and becomes often clinical.


In what ways do you think talking about mental health more could benefit your community?
I feel we would see a decrease of negative and destructive behavior. We would have more people able to lead fulfilled lives. Mental illness specifically in its most severe cases is a death sentence or a sentence to living on the streets or incarceration. I find that saddening. It upsets me deeply. I think in our particular U.S. context by reframing and talking about this we could see a decrease in violence. A default coping mechanism in our culture is violent acts against oneself or the community surrounding the individual. Our culture because of our relative silence on these issues and the lack of resources of creating support networks that bring people into the fold instead of ostracize them out leaves little room but resorting to violence. Violence and mental health have always been and will always be issues that we have to wrangle with but I see part of the problem and increase of these acts in the dissolution and distancing of people from being held in community. 

What can we do to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health? Is there a way we can help people feel comfortable talking about it more?
This project is a start. This conversation we are having is a start. I am a huge advocate for the small and personal. Not that I do not think that the push for developing and supporting great policy funding safety nets or pushing insurance companies to cover mental health services is not a worthy cause but I feel you can make an equally, more direct impact in starting with your family and chosen family. I would say starting with oneself. Searching out resources for therapy which technology has expanded and made slightly more affordable. Getting connected with those resources whether it be for yourself but also to have in your head for when a friend or someone close to you needs a recommendation. I know unapologetically speaking about it and sharing it when you are comfortable is bravery epitomized and helps. I made a insta-story talking about my eating disorder for National Eating Disorder Awareness month which people know and I have divulged about but I rarely have spoken about publicly. I got tons of messages in my DM's of people being moved or opening up about this issue and how it related to them. I gave recommendations on a couple books I read in therapy that helped me. Even if people didn't have categorically diagnosed eating disorders everyone I think understands and experiences the pressure around our bodies and eating in this culture. This is only the beginning but it truly is the magic that I hope over time will erode some of the barriers we have around communicating about mental health. 


If you struggle with any mental health related issues - what are they? How do you manage them?
DUH! Let me spill the mental health tea for me. I will always have body dysphoria, end stop. When I first was doing outpatient treatment I thought that would somehow magically go away. In my later adolescence, I realized that it won't. It has become more second nature and less pesky to manage. I have to be active and participate in activities like yoga, hiking, cooking amazing meals, and other exercise like skinny dipping in the ocean or boogieing on the dance floor allow me to connect to my body and not try to escape or disassociate from it. For awhile, I protected myself by stepping backwards on the scale at my health care provider's office because I didn't want to be focused on a number. I am comfortable now knowing the number but this is an example of how I have altered and found ways to care for myself. I also if I am not mindful can be an ANXIOUS individual. I used to have OCD behavior in my eating disorder that I have luckily been able to ditch after therapy. Therapy is truly a godsend and shouldn't only be in your life in crisis but as something you can have as a constant. The problem is you have to unearth affordable access to those resources and it can take a couple tries before you mesh with someone. I luckily have cultivated a group of friends and family that allow me to be open about this which helps. They of course can never serve in the same way as a therapist. I want to make note of that because I am often a confidante, one who often consoles, and caretaker for my folks, it's part of the reason I feel called to doula work. I digress. Emotional labor can be taxing and being an empath means you may take more on when showing up for people in that way. It can be comforting to know those shared experiences. I find having an intimate circle of people to do that with is incredible in terms of managing my mental health but I also am aware of guarding and claiming my solo self care time to refill my cup. Learning to ask for help or seek help still requires rigorous practice for me. Same with ridding of the guilt of setting up boundaries and trimming away toxicity that does not bring light or energy to my life. Having that sounding board, doing cleansing work, having psychic readings, getting energy work done, etc. has been an element I incorporate into my life.

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