“I moved to Redding from Minnesota with my husband and two young children in June 2013, and I just love to live life and laugh so hard with friends that we can hardly breathe.
I also love to dance, and I see it as a metaphor for my life. In the past, I danced around serious issues that began with the abuse I suffered at home growing up. I presented a facade for others to hide the pain deep inside of me.”
“My life has been about redefining what it means to be strong. In my family, it meant only the strong survive. But I’m realizing true strength is so much more than survival. It’s about fighting for the beautiful things in life every person deserves to have. ”
“I had a lot to run from when I was younger, but I could never escape the realities of the hand I had been dealt.
I excelled as a student, and my best friend and biggest competition was Melissa. She was an amazing person, who was also great at academics, sports and dance. That’s why it was a shock when Melissa started to open up to me about how sad she was. She had so much going for her; however, people (including myself) didn’t choose to take her sadness seriously. That’s why we had to experience losing Melissa so young. She tried to stage a suicide attempt to get her family’s attention, but died when it went horribly wrong.”
“If I would have known then what I know now about suicide and depression, I would have ran screaming through the streets that Melissa was sad and needed help. I would have done anything I could to help her.”
“As a parent, I think it’s important that I teach my kids life isn’t all about excelling and achieving. It’s about living. I want them to know it’s natural to be sad. It’s OK to notice something isn’t right with you and to seek out help.”
“When I went to college, I began to realize and accept that I had some anger issues due to my past. I made the decision to get help. However, I didn’t want to focus on how I was abused. Instead, I wanted to figure out how to have a healthy and happy life. My therapist became like a best friend, and with her help, I was finally set up to succeed emotionally for the first time in my life.”
“I believe there is a stigma associated with African-American women, and as a response, we believe we have to keep our heads up—no matter what. Even when we are sad, we struggle to allow ourselves to let our guards down and ask for help because that would be a sign of weakness. And showing weakness could subsequently mean we have embodied the stereotypes society has constructed about us.
However, asking for help should have nothing to do with our ethnicity or gender. It should have everything to do with the simple fact we are humans and we, like all humans, were made to love and live life to the fullest.
Today, I am proudly married to a man who loves and supports me. I’m busy with our toddler and newborn and dedicated to my job working for Shasta County as a Community Health Advocate. I am passionate about being a voice for the voiceless and will not cease my efforts until every person, no matter who they are, is heard.”