Mental health is not something we openly discuss.

Maybe it’s the way most of us were raised. You don’t talk about that kind of thing in public. It’s a private concern, perhaps even a family one, and therefore nobody’s business but your own. The downside is that this perspective often leads those of us suffering from mental health concerns to feel isolated and ashamed. I’m sure many of us have felt obligated to hide our state of being over the years. However, as public awareness changes, I have noticed a pleasant shift, with more and more people feeling like they can be upfront and honest. The less you feel you have to hide the more likely you are to seek out the kind of help you may need.

May is Mental Health Awareness month, an opportunity to raise awareness on those living with mental or behavioral issues and help reduce the stigma surrounding these concerns. This movement is emphasized with support from institutes such as the American Hospital Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Alliance on Mental Health. These organizations offer support through outreach programs, research performed by licensed professionals, and advocating for policies that look out for those in need.

Finding a creative outlet with Made-Up Mayhem, the ORF improv troupe.

I suffer from severe social anxiety, depression. PTSD, mild Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorder. Crowds or large groups of people (even as simple as going to the grocery store) absolutely terrify me. I’ve been this way since my late teens early 20s. It made having a social life very difficult. What’s so amazing is that the one place on this planet where my mental health issues have no effect is actually the Renaissance Festival! No matter how busy it gets I always feel calm and at total peace. Walking around.. seeing all the smiles.. all the people in garb all dressed up looking so happy and excited always puts me on cloud 9! It really is my home away from home ♡

Megan Rice

As we move forward and begin to learn more about our mental and emotional state of being, many of us are coming to terms with reality. That being, a lot more of us need help than we want to admit. One of the ways in which we find that help comes from willing support found in a close group of friends you can rely on. I’ve talked before about the many ways in which ren faire creates a community both big and small. Throughout the blogs I’ve written you can see where have reached out to help in times of need. From helping clean out a booth after a bad storm to watching someone’s kids while they perform we all look out for one another. The support doesn’t end there. Many times we look to our Rennie community for the emotional care we need.

For many, ORF is a comfort zone. You are surrounded by people you know, friends you care about, and the environment in which you feel at home. As someone with ADHD, I can absolutely confirm that this is the one time during the year in which I am incapable of boredom and my social engagement meter is comfortably full. Many of us can’t imagine going without a visit to ORF and now that Renaissance Park has expanded its events with the 1572 Roadhouse, Celtic Fest, and other venues it feels like January through April is nothing more than a count down until we can all see one another again.

Finding support from the community.

Mental health has always been, a very tough subject for me. As someone who has struggled for most of their life with it. I have participated in many things to try to find some sort of peace. Though nothing truly clicked for me. It wasn’t until the year 2020, around the time covid started when I decided to go on a self love/healing journey. I went out to try to accomplish dreams, and goals that I never had before. Even ones that I thought I honestly could never make happen. The Renaissance Fair happened to be a place where I felt I could make those dreams come true. My thoughts were right, and in the year 2020 I joined the cast of ORF. By joining ORF I not only accomplished a dream of mine. But I strive to help make others dreams come true alongside a group of amazing folk. Believing in one’s self, light, dreams, and goals is so important to me. So much so that I even based my character “Euphoria The Fae of Wishes” after it. ORF helped to create a magic withen myself that I hope to spread to everyone that steps forth into our wondrous world.

Marinda Christina Rhodes

However as much as we adore the festival, it would be fair to say that for some folks these events can be a bit much. I know several people who love coming to the grounds but quickly become overwhelmed or overstimulated by the constant flow of activity. This is entirely understandable. You can love something and still have enough of it after a while. If it feels like there is too much going on when you are at an event, look for the alcoves around the festival grounds. These are small areas that people overlook where you can take a step back. There is one next to Blue Flame Leather and another next to the Brown Cow where the fountain is. St. Peter’s Chapel is often less crowded, making for a good place to get some rest.

Feel like you just need to get out of the crowd? Did you know you can get a hand-stamp if you have to leave the grounds during an event? Just stop at the gate and tell them you’ll be coming back. They’ll give you a stamp and you can come back at any time that day until close. This is great if you need to be away from the noise for a little bit without feeling like you’ll miss out.

If your concerns are more serious, remember we have Emergency Services right next to the Front Gates. If something goes amiss during your visit you can flag down one of the Staff members or report to one of the ORF-owned food stalls where they can radio for help. To anyone in the crowd, if you see one of the staff vehicles coming in your direction, please step to the side and allow them to pass without obstacle. They are likely headed towards an emergency and are needed.

As we head into festival season, remember to put your mental and emotional health first. Assess your state of being before taking on the joyful, yet intense experience of our events. The better you feel, the more fun you can have as you visit us for the many events and festivals Renaissance Park hosts each year.