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Why Caley dances: Instagram campaign raises awareness, money for mental health

Caley Dimmock, outside Boxcar Social in downtown Halifax on Oct. 8, 2019, is organizing a fundraising campaign through social media for mental health.
Caley Dimmock, outside Boxcar Social in downtown Halifax on Oct. 8, 2019, is organizing a fundraising campaign through social media for mental health. - Ryan Taplin

Last year, Caley Dimmock’s 40,000 Instagram followers did not initially know why she started posting videos of herself dancing.

Eventually, she let them in on the purpose behind putting on a happy face.

After struggling with what she terms a significant mental health rut in the summer of 2018, Halifax marketing expert Dimmock started dancing around her apartment. The seemingly light-hearted videos were in reality examples of a technique called opposite action, which requires a person to behave contrary to their emotional urges. 

Dimmock, 29, remembers her period of struggle as a time when she coped with challenges like anxiety and depression, as well as a “ramped up” nervous system.

“I wasn’t able to kind of function like I normally would have, and I was kind of getting stuck,” she said during an interview.

Opposite action helped.

“It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. When we go into a certain emotion, there’s action urges that come with it. If we’re angry, our action urge is to attack, whether or not we do it.

When we’re sad, our action urge is to hide.”

She said she “was just super, super low” for more than a month.

I’m struggling for a caption on this. You see, there’s so much I want to say. I want to eloquently explain why I started dancing on my Instagram stories in the summer of 2018. I want to tell you of my personal struggles. I want to share first hand examples of how far our mental health system has to go. But instead, I ask you to please watch this video. Move It For Mental Health was a huge success last year. It brought me to tears at times. We created hundreds of thousands of social media impressions and raised over $2,600 for @cmhanational. And now we’re back for 2019. Today marks the start of Canadian Mental Illness Awareness Week, and do I’ve decided to launch #moveitformentalhealth today and we’ll run it until October 20th. Not everyone deals with mental illness, but we are all affected by mental health. My ask to you, is this: 💃🏻 Dance on your Instagram story, if you’re not sure why, watch this video 🙏🏼 👯‍♂️ Tag and nominate at least two people to do the same 🙌🏼 If you can, donate to the campaign via bit.ly/moveitformentalhealth2019 or my link in bio. Even $5 helps us to our goal of $5,000. All funds raised go to @cmhanational. Thank you so much everyone, I can’t wait to see where we go with it this year! Love you 💕

A post shared by Caley Dimmock (@cjdimmock) on

“I have quite a bit of trauma from my past, growing up, and what happens when I go through something really difficult, my nervous system responds and it becomes really hard to manage.”

After learning about opposite action, she talked herself into giving it a try.

“What if I just forced myself to dance? I don’t feel like dancing. There’s no way in hell I want to dance right now. What if I just do it?”

She recorded herself, and her social media followers responded. 

 “I just thought it was kind of fun, and it was pushing myself even further,” said Dimmock.

“People loved these videos. They became my most-watched Instagram Stories ever.”

She decided to raise money by asking others to dance in their Instagram Stories, using #moveitformentalhealth and nominating two friends by tagging them and asking them to donate whatever they could afford. The funds went to the national division of the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

That first edition of Move It for Mental Health was encouraging.

“We raised over $2,600,” Dimmock said.

This year’s campaign runs through Oct. 20, and the goal is $5,000.

The fundraiser coincides with the start of Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada.

Dimmock, founder of Dimik Creative Group, grew up in the Truro area. After several years in Vancouver, she returned to the province to live and is familiar with the stresses on the health-care system.

She recalled her first steps to get moving as kind of a signal boost for the need for better mental health care.

 “Nobody knew why I was doing it. In October of last year, I decided, ‘You know what? This is probably going to shock some people when they know why I was doing it, so maybe I’ll start a campaign here to drive awareness.’ ”

Halifax dance studio House of Eights, 1717 Barrington St., is doing a class Oct. 20, the last day of the campaign, at noon. Everyone is invited, and the cost is a recommended donation of $10, with all proceeds going toward Move It for Mental Health. 
 

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