Daydreaming in my room at age 10, I never in a million years would have thought that a little over a decade later I’d be sitting in a coffee shop writing the first blog post for a nonprofit organization I’d founded. I would not have doodled my name next to the words “social entrepreneur” because I wouldn’t have known what that meant or even how to spell it.
But here I am.
Life is a funny thing. Sometimes the things we wish for most don’t happen, while others we dread, do. It’s frustrating. Everyone will tell you that the setback is “a blessing in disguise.” It happens to everybody, and it happened to me. The thing about mental health is that you never think about it until you’re in crisis mode; either you, or someone you love gets whacked with an illness or a diagnosis and all of a sudden your world shifts. You’re now conscious of a whole new world, and it isn’t shining, shimmering, or splendid. It sucks. There are too many questions and not enough answers. Who knew coping strategies were even a thing? You certainly don’t know you ever had them until you realize they’ve deserted you in your time of need.
When my life changed, I began to seek solace in things I’d never tried before. I bought lavender candles and lit them before bed. I got into yoga. I stopped attending religious services, feeling disconnected from its teachings and traditions. I began to keep a journal. I started a gratitude log. I did anything I could think to try after searching the internet on a daily basis. I can’t point to what it was that helped me through the rough patches, but I can tell you that it was a process and it didn’t happen overnight.
I thought about it long and hard, realizing that what I needed didn’t exist. I wanted a community; something I could belong to that would give me peace of mind. I wanted a link to compassion and empathy, rather than pity and sympathy. I wanted to be able to speak to someone my age who would understand what I was going through and not judge me for it. Most of all, I wanted not to feel alone. Because it didn’t exist, I knew that if I wanted it, I would have to do something about it.
And that is how Stronger Than Stigma was born.
I hope you find the support network we’re creating to be comforting, fulfilling, and inspiring. I hope it pushes you to keep up the fight against your demons—the ones telling you “you’ll never amount to anything.” They’re wrong; trust me on this one. I hope that if you find yourself drifting—alone, confused, isolated—you seek this out and it brings you the courage you need to move forward. I hope that you’ll share it with others you know needing a little boost in morale. Our battles are hard fought and not easily won. Never take yourself for granted. Regardless of who you are, your genetic predispositions, or your rough patches along the way, the sky’s the limit. The first step is accepting yourself and embracing all that you are.
And with that, I welcome you to the Stronger Than Stigma community.
Very truly yours,
Founder & Executive Director
Stronger Than Stigma, Inc.