Hello, Lovely Soul!
My name is Shai B. and I’m the heart and spirit behind Shai Unleashed. My resume? It’s lengthy and, to most people, quite impressive. Over the last decade, I have run successful Etsy shops which made tens of thousands in a month, worked with national and international political campaigns, and became the CEO of an international eMag with over 50K issues sold.
The midst of all of that, though, is what’s really important: I was successful AF. I was rocking my life. I was also very much not okay. I’ve struggled with suicidal depression, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorder since I was a small child and was, for the most part, just trying to just…achieve it all away, one goal at a time.
It didn’t work. Not even close.
At some point along the way, a friend turned me on to herbalism to help nourish my mind and body in ways it had never been tended to and nourished before. Along with herbalism, I returned to a life-long love of art and creation.
Behind the interviews, the podcasts, the blog posts and eMag releases, I was creating paintings and drinking herbal infusions to help heal my chronic illnesses and sooth my nervous system.
Not only did my love for herbalism and art grow, but it was apparent to everyone that this is what I was called to do – especially my friend Natasha.
Natasha, too, struggled with suicidal depression and anxiety. She also loved art and herbs (and creating stunning handmade jewelry). We talked for hours about our loves, our goals, our dreams, and how hard it was to exist in this world sometimes. She cheered me on when I became a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line, with us both understanding how it feels to need someone, sometimes. She encouraged me to do what my he(ART) was calling me to do: creating a space for mental health, herbalism, and art to become interrelated. We both knew that mental health, sisterhood, plants, and creativity belonged together, each inspiring and leaning on the other. She believed in me and this need in the Universe so much that she actually bought me this domain. When she did, she said ‘I love you and I believe in your art. Go make art! <3 ‘
On November 23rd, 2019, Natasha lost her battle with depression and ended her life.
So, here I am. Creating this space, day by day. For Natasha.
I miss you siSTAR,
This site and the Unleashed Herbals deck are dedicated to Natasha Mandel – one of the brightest lights to ever shine on this planet.
What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.
A little more about me:
- I have three boys ages 2, 8, and 15, along with a husband of 4 years. The eldest is out and proud trans and we are very much a positive, supportive, LGBTQ+ family.
- I have (so far) five years of herbalism training, including every course Herbal Academy has to offer, endless individual courses, several conferences, and two internships. I really, really love making magic with plants.
- I’m learning, day by day, how being Aspie and struggling with depression/anxiety affects me from day to day. I’m a flawed, but growing and learning human.
- My love for art goes back several decades: I started drawing as a small child with my step-dad, then progressed through art classes in high school through to an art major program in college. I really love art. I sometimes struggle with art that doesn’t ‘have a purpose’ – art journaling and the like, so I take classes to challenge myself in that area.
- I love pandas, Marvel everything, meeting new people online (though I’m *really* shy IRL), and whiskey in my coffee.
- I also love you. Thank you for being here.