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Mental Health Stories

Meet Krystal Douglas

Morgan Daniels

“I think often it’s so frowned upon to see someone, that you can’t openly discuss it. But I see it as, if you see your general doctor for physical checkups and seek spiritual guidance for your soul then why wouldn’t you also have a doctor for your mind?” Krystal Douglas

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Meet India Kelly

Morgan Daniels

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 12. The first time, I was walking around the neighborhood with a bottle of pills. I tried to take a lot of ibuprofen at once but I took so many I ended up spitting them up. The second time I cut my arm with a razor. I felt trapped, I didn’t like my circumstances, I wanted to be free at a young age. I started going to therapy. After that my depression went away for a while. Then, in college I felt it come back and I felt at the time I wanted to go to therapy.

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Meet Jermaine

Morgan Daniels

Photo by Jermaine Tolbert

Photo by Jermaine Tolbert

What brings you joy?

Educating myself & working towards lofty goals. And of course achieving those goals.

What word of advice you would give someone that is currently struggling with their mental health?

I would tell them to remove distractions. The senseless stemuli that we entertain. Id advise them to put only the healthiest of things into their psyche (like food).

What does breaking the stigma look like to you?

It looks like offering an outlet to care. To love on someone else with no regard to any limiting beliefs. It looks like offering book and seminar suggestions that keep the focus where it should be.

What helps get you through difficult times?

When I was going through my struggles with schizophrenia and depression, I stopped everything that I was involved in to see myself. I secluded myself and got into prayer, books, and finding the triggers that seemingly had me bound. Most of the time we just need a change in mind & routine to overcome. That's where the books & prayer comes in at.


Meet Ms. Wheelchair Alabama - Whitney Ford

Morgan Daniels

Photo of Whitney Ford

Photo of Whitney Ford

What brings you joy?

Reading, writing poetry, singing, being able to pour into others and make a difference any way that I can.

Whitney's Story:

I'm a 23 year old Black girl that was born with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele with Hydrocephalus. Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect where baby's spine does not develop correctly during the first 28 days of pregnancy. Congenital Hydrocephalus is a buildup of excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain at birth. The extra fluid can increase pressure in the baby's brain, causing brain damage and mental and physical problems. I'm blessed to be able to lead a pretty average life however, I've had to fight for it.

12.3% of the US population is African American and there are fewer than 200,000 US cases of Spina Bifida per year. So in a sense you could say I have almost felt in times passed twice the minority and twice the lonely. I'm the youngest of three girls. I've been the inspiration too many just by being who I am and there came a point where I hated that fact. It was not fair. I did not ask for this.

I went through lots of different stages of life as we all do with that mind set silently and on occasion it led to suicidal thoughts and I am in a place now where I don't feel that I have to be a perfect picture of strength anymore. I realize that pressing on while openly going through is all the more inspiring.

I still have hard days because "life be lifin' " is how I tend to put it. I'm trying to do the school thing and fulfill my dreams, and often times living with a disability causes one to fall into this crazy thought pattern of having to prove ones self to where life becomes much more of work than joy. I haven't gotten to where I feel I should be in my mind but I have to take time to celebrate my wins in living on my own though it may be an interesting experience, being crowned Ms. Wheelchair Alabama - America 2017, publishing my book of poetry "Sister, How Are You?" and every bit of advocacy I've done through my brand blog and website at

I mentioned that I am the youngest of three girls. My parents actually separated just around me turning 21 and my mother is a strong asset to a lot of needs I have with my disability. I've been learning to do a lot on my own slowly but surely since then and it is a bit of a different experience than the average person goes through.

It's important for us all to not be too hard on ourselves disability or no disability. Just like my fellow man I desire marriage, children, a bomb career where I leave an awesome legacy and it's not easy.

Through Difficult Times...

Prayer is key for me when I feel myself becoming too anxious. I've learned to take the scripture that tells me to pray without ceasing extremely seriously. Also from the age of 9 when I would vent to God it would almost be tradition to write poetry after and much of those are now in my book "Sister, How Are You?" Another thing is honestly other people. Love really is my motivation because when I'm focused on a mentee or any loved one my problems tend to not bark at me so loudly. This is not to say that its healthy to ignore ones problems and become a slave to others. That's not what I am saying. I am saying when my thoughts lie to me and say I have no value and that I have no purpose and I can love on another I realize that love is my purpose.

Suicide Prevention is...

In simplest terms, what it looks like to help someone or a generation that may be suicidal overcome is just to care without limits.

Too many times we have limits to our love for another.

Romans 13:8 says, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." and Galatians 5:14 says, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

And it also says faith works by love. I could go on and on but basically what I'm saying is that there is no special formula. Caring is motivation for me in the Suicide Doors Conversation I host on social media and via conference call every year in September.

Whitney's Advice: "I'd first tell them they're not alone. I'd then encourage them to just take time however long they can to just acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses as just them. Not good. Not bad. Just them. Nothing that God cannot cultivate."

Meet Kamren Rollins

Morgan Daniels

"My mental health story? It's odd for me to write this and honestly this has been a question that has stumped me for a while. I don't know the "proper" way to answer this question, but I'm going to give the most transparent answer I possibly can. So this past academic year has been really challenging for me due to many things that are not related to my academics."

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Meet Michaelangelo

Morgan Daniels

The Finish Line: Chance the Rapper, Power to the People, and Power of the People

What brings you joy?

God, Hip-Hop, Friends, Pokemon, and Security.

Michaelangelo's Mental Health Story:

We all have a story. With unforgettable characters, mind blowing plot twists, and unfathomable resolutions truly and masterfully orchestrated by God.

This is mine.

I have watched the specter of depression, like an insatiable beast, eat away and destroy the lives of many I have cared about, myself included. It makes individuals feel worthless, not cared for, hopeless, and not wanting to be on this planet anymore because of all the pressure and anguish. I’ve seen it, experienced it.

In the Black community in particular, the coping methodologies of the past are becoming outdated. We can't just “pray it away”, “stay strong”, “just get over it” and dismiss it by simply blaming it on the devil. We all we got. It's time for us as the new generation to usher in new stratagems of vulnerability, open conversations, lack of judgement, and pure, familial love with each and every individual we know that is going through it not just for ourselves, but the future generations that depend on our survival and to fulfill the dreams of our ancestors. I write this as the introduction to my story to not be preachy, just aphorisms gained through what I call: “The Finish Line: Chance the Rapper, Power to the People, and Power of the People.”

When my parents divorced back in 2009, I moved into unfavorable housing conditions with mice, little to no food on a weekly basis, and sleeping in a laundry room for a majority of my high school career. Graduating Salutatorian of my high school and gaining a scholarship to go to college, I found a way out of my situation down South.

Unfortunately, depression still followed me, and no matter how much I achieved, the awards I had won, the exotic places I had traveled, the people I had impacted, the good grades I had still found a way to plague me. So much to the point where I was hospitalized two times for suicidal thoughts, all my scholarships were lost, and my school threatened to kick me out if I had one more “mishap”. My mental illness made me lose a lot of friends and people I cared about. Furthermore, when I didn't graduate with my incoming class, it destroyed me, making me feel like a failure. At this point I didn't know what to do.

But then salvation came in the form of everything and everyone I had invested in. Power to the people, Power of the People.

See, with my depression, as a Black man, I felt showing signs of it would make me weak. Not only did I struggle day to day with it, but I harnessed a perpetual sort of energy within me to be a blessing to other people exhibiting joy and motivation to all those I met. More than all my accomplishments, I became known on campus as the guy with a lot of energy, happiness and ability to brighten someone elses day. I felt like it was duty no matter what else I did, to give others joy even if I or them were not feeling so hot. Everyone fights a different battle every single day both externally and internally, some are just more vocal about it than others. I realized in my actions that we all we got, and we gotta start acting like such on a daily basis to protect each other's peace and joy. I found joy in being one to others. I had people coming to me saying I helped make their day, that I helped them stop contemplating suicide and negative thoughts for those down days. It gave me power and purpose knowing that the feelings were reciprocal and I could make a difference.

Thus, whenever I was homeless, couldn't afford a bite to eat, was down in the dumps, and couldn't live day to day, I had joy influx from the community I had invested so much in. Without barely mentioning my problems they all jumped in to help me whenever I needed. That's love. That's the major reason what has made me so powerful in all that I do.

With this power of the people, I was able to finish, as an exchange student, my last few classes in my hometown and transfer my credits to my home institution down South. What motivated me this entire last semester was a song by Chance the Rapper and T-Pain. The hook went:

“All my days, I prayed and prayed, I’d see the Finish Line,
Oh, I'mma finish mine.”

These simple words helped me persevere, knowing all my efforts and sacrifices of my friends were not in vain. I would make it. The power of the people helped me survive. The beloved community being candid about their pain and helping me with mine made me shine and make it to the Finish Line. As I make it to the end of my collegiate career, I can't help but smile bright at the joy of God's blessings and lessons.

I dedicate this piece to Da’Shaun, Rodney, Kaya, Clarissa, Kevin, and Morgan. Their bravery and triumph over the specter of depression on a frequent basis gave me the courage to topple mine every single day.

I am joyful.

Meet Barbara

Morgan Daniels

What brings you joy?

It brings me joy to be in a healthy mental state and to have the energy to face each day. For so long, this was foreign to me. When I'm healthy and well rested, I'm able to better help others as well. In addition, I have a dog that brings me great joy. He has really helped and showed me unconditional love over the past two years.

Barbara's Mental Health Story:

Growing up in poverty, traumatic experiences as a child at the hands of my father, witnessing domestic violence in my home growing up, and being sexually assaulted as a teenager; all lead to me being clinically depressed and in a constant state of anxiety. From early childhood depression and anxiety significantly interfered with my quality of life. I was very withdrawn and isolated. I didn't have many friends, barely talked to my family, and thoughts of suicide were the norm. My confidence and self-esteem was very low.

Over the years, I reached out for help via talking to counselors at my colleges here and there, but never had consistent professional mental health help. Two years ago, I was forced to a place of healing. I'm in my early thirties, so this is something that I was battling for a while. I sought therapy and confronted a lot of issues from my past. I overcame the culture of silence around talking about mental health and seeking professional help in the black community. I'm now in recovery and help others battling mental illness to break the silence and get the help that they need.

I created an initiative around breaking the silence of talking about mental illness in the black community and seeking professional mental health help. I designed a five t-shirt series known as the "Unleash T-shirt Series" where individuals and/or loved ones affected by mental illness are encouraged to live their life on purpose by unleashing their unlimited potential.

Meet Keara

Morgan Daniels

Photo by Keara

Photo by Keara

What brings you joy?

Things that bring me joy include anything dealing with art whether it be painting or attending an art gallery to look at other artist's artwork. I also enjoy traveling and beach vacations, along with gym workouts.

Keara's Mental Health Story:

My name is Keara Douglas, and I suffer from depression and a common sleeping disorder referred to as insomnia.

My depression often came out as either rage or me lashing out at others in anger. This went on for years before I was told and explained what it really was. Most of the time friendships would end because of how I would react to certain situations or things very irrationally, but I just always assumed "that was life" and that "people come and go" not really taking into account of my actions and how I was affecting others. I was first diagnosed with depression, along with insomnia, in the year of 2014 when I went to the doctor simply because I just could not sleep. There are times right now where I may take a nap for 20-30 minutes during a random time of the day and won't sleep again for another two or three days. Now when I say "sleep", I mean to where I'm actually dreaming and asleep for more than an hour. Just imagine only getting at least 25 minutes of sleep for days at hand, and then going to work and school everyday and just being down right angry. Not only from dealing with past trauma and incidents that have occurred throughout your life, but also just being mad due to lack of sleep all together. It drove me into an isolated state mentally. I had no problem being around people physically, but my mind was hardly ever there.

In the year of 2014, what really triggered my depression and what made me really go downhill emotionally was a head on car accident on I-85 between Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA in which a lady was traveling on the wrong side of the interstate and ended up hitting me. I was traveling in the southbound lane to go back to work the next morning after a great night out on the town of Charlotte with family, but there was a lady driving north in the south bound lane. I thank God I was able to walk away all together and I am still here, but I ended up with a concussion, a contusion and now a curved spinal chord. I spent no time in the hospital which is a blessing as well due to the severity of the accident, but I did end up in physical therapy for at least 5-6 months. With both drivers including myself, not hitting any brakes on impact, the force from the impact ended up curving my spine like the letter "S". This lead to my left arm being out of place and muscles just all messed up all throughout my arm, so I really had to regain strength in it and complete therapy to push spinal disks back into place so I could walk straight again and just to sit up straight again.

I took this very hard but I always covered it up with jokes and laughs and smiles so I wouldn’t have to explain to anyone what I was feeling at the time. My insomnia got really bad because of the nightmares I would have about the accident and my fear of what could have happened. My friends didn’t understand what was going on because I just felt like they had their own lives and I didn’t want to become a burden on them with my problems. Crying became a daily activity. Either I would cry all night or I would get up in the mornings crying after laying in my bed the entire night not being able to sleep. The accident left me without a job because they wanted and needed me to come back to work as soon as possible and would not work with me and my injuries. I guess they just thought I was making it up or something, I’m not really sure but even after turning in doctor’s notes and the accident report, they continued to pressure me to come back to work before my body was healed properly. I guess they didn’t understand that at the time I couldn’t pick up anything heavy so not only was I unable to really do anything physically, I wouldn’t have been in the right state of mind mentally and emotionally as well. At the time I was in college and had to leave because of the emotional toll it took on me. I could never focus on my work at all, I really couldn’t focus on anything. My small business began to go downhill because I just could not focus on my work and I didn't know how to explain that to my clients. Some stuck around through those bad times and waited for me to get things together mentally and emotionally, in which I owe them the world, and others never even asked me, “what’s wrong Keara?”. This led to me isolating myself and just wanting to be by myself and that's a disaster waiting to happen when you are suffering from depression.

I ended up finishing physical therapy and regaining strength in my arm, so now I can pick heavy things up again and lift weights at the gym. The gym has become a stress reliever especially for helping me to sleep again. I’m beginning the steps towards finishing up my degree this year. I bought me a brand new car and got a new job. I still battle these bad feelings and lack of sleep today, but I channel things through painting now instead of crying and lashing out at others who just don’t understand what I’m going through mentally. I never took any type of antidepressants nor sleeping aids, as I just didn’t personally agree with it. I didn’t want to become dependent on it, I wanted to learn how to control myself and self-discipline for me, ways to naturally be happy again and I found that in creating artwork. This was a huge lesson for myself that true healing takes time. It also taught me that my mental health matters because before I was actually diagnosed, I had no idea I was becoming a problem for myself just based on how I was thinking and handling that one situation of my life out of at least five different situations from my past that had just piled on top of each other. I hope telling my story helps someone else who may have been through a traumatic accident that has changed their life. Things do get better but you must patient, have faith in God, and let time run its course.

Meet Alicia

Morgan Daniels

Photo by Alicia Williams

Photo by Alicia Williams

What brings you joy?

I am filled with joy striving towards a better me, and fulfilling my life's purpose. I strive daily to make a better life for myself, and my mother's legacy. I am joyous when I think about how far I've come and how proud my mother would be with my progress.

Alicia's Mental Health Story:

"My sophomore year of college I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, following multiple failed suicide attempts. I found out my mother was battling colon cancer, and it was starting to take a toll on our life and her strength. I was determined to leave the world before her because I couldn't imagine living life a day without her.

After diagnosis, my mother focused on getting me stable with therapy and medication, and I learned through countless hours of therapy that my life served a purpose and there was a reason God wasn't letting me off the hook that easily. I began to focus on journaling, and writing and continued to press on to high school graduation.

My mother passed away going into my second year of college, and I was faced with going down the path I was on before or staying healthy and being the best I could be in memory of my mother. I focused my efforts on staying healthy and happy, took multiple leaps of faith to travel the world and move out of my hometown and pursue entrepreneurship.

While I built a support system of friends, and my siblings, I have held on to the quote "If God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it." I'm a firm believer that whatever is presented in front of me, I can conquer above and beyond mediocrity and getting by."

Meet Fatou

Morgan Daniels

Photography by Fatou

Photography by Fatou

Fatou's Mental Health Story:

"I think at one point or another, everyone feels not okay. For a large component of my teenage years (transitioning into adulthood), not feeling okay was a constant feeling that followed me. Seemingly having it together + feeling like you’re dangerously close to falling apart at the seams is not a fun place to be at all.

Try as I might I couldn’t open myself up to expressing what I was feeling, not understanding that part of overcoming when you’re suffocating in darkness is by bringing the dark to light. What helped me tackle my “mental health” problems head on was taking the leap and standing on a island of vulnerability with people that could stand in the gap for me. Being able to find the courage to stand up and express:

“Hey. There are demons that I fight in private, things that make me feel like less of a person, things that keep me from moving forward” opened the door for me to understand and address the things that were manifesting internally. Understanding that these things in fact did not make me less of a person, that everyone had “stuff” irregardless of what was portrayed helped me feel less ashamed of not having it together and finding peace in chaos."

Meet Renée

Morgan Daniels


What brings you joy?

The presence of God bring me the most joy. Slowing down, taking in my surroundings. Breathing fresh air. Bodies of water. Traveling. Cooking and enjoying good food. Getting lost in a book. Music. Running. Writing. Connecting with someone who just gets "it" and gets me.

Renée's Mental Health Story:

"I was on a winter retreat with two friends a few years ago and I just felt like something was wrong with me. The point of the retreat was to get quiet and spend alone time with God. We did the same thing the year before and it was great, but this particular year, I was having trouble. I kept trying to hear God and to be still before Him, but all I felt was anxiety, fear, and confusion. I was scared. I couldn't relax. My friend recommended that I get counseling, and after that retreat I finally signed up. I knew that I had issues, but couldn't name them or face them. I also learned lots of self-destructive and medicating behaviors over the years.

For some reason, I thought that me becoming a Christian would automatically solve my mental health issues, and that if it didn't, there was something wrong with me. I was told by someone in my church's leadership that "depression doesn't exist for Christians." There were so many things going on in my heart and head and I didn't know where to turn for the answers. Anytime I was able to open up, I felt more shame. Counseling helped me pull back the layers and allowed me to be myself and heal, without shame and without the pressure I put on myself to appear to be the perfect Christian. I was able to deal with my childhood sexual abuse, rape, family of origin issues, and my ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression. I finally allowed myself to feel. I finally allowed myself to be imperfect. I finally let God into these wounds. I finally asked Him hard questions. I finally learned the art of being still. It was difficult.

I went through a serious dark season of depression and couldn't get out of bed on some days. There were days where I asked God to just end my life. But I made it. Through God's grace and the support of my therapist, I healed (and am still healing). I learned that grieving and healing are absolutely necessary and I didn't have to apologize for it. There is space to be a Christian and to wrestle with feelings of all kind. I learned that there is so much freedom in choosing joy and that with thanksgiving comes deliverance. I learned that it takes time and that some days are harder than others. I learned that God walks with me in the deepest of valleys and his love for me is deeply healing. I've learned to choose joy and to show grace to myself and others.

I still have lots of healing to do, but I am more at peace now that I have been in my entire life. I'm getting ready to go on that same winter retreat, and I no longer feel that same fear and condemnation; in fact, I look forward with excitement and am expecting an amazing time in the presence of my Heavenly Father."

Meet Ashanti

Morgan Daniels

What brings you JOY?

Helping others brings me joy. I also enjoy my family and time with my friends. Joy is something I work at everyday, and I'm constantly finding ways to joyfully grow through life.

Ashanti's Mental Health Story:

"I have dealt with depression since I was a young child. It wasn't until I got to college and went into a severe depressive state that I actually recognized myself as someone who dealt with a mental illness. My depression got so bad during my junior in college that I couldn't function in normal environments. I didn't leave my room, not just because I was depressed and didn't have the energy, but because I couldn't have a normal conversation with anyone without crying or breaking down.

This was probably one of the lowest points in my life, but it was also a point where I was ready to accept healing into my life. I began to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with severe depression and an anxiety disorder. She begged me to take medicine for the illness, as she was very worried for me. I had read about the medicines and decided that I didn't want dependency on drugs to be my story. I researched natural ways to cure depression, and truly got back to my roots. I began to do things that brought me joy regularly, and I learned ways to self-heal and find my own peace. I still struggle some days, as we all do, but 2 years later, I have finally reached a pinnacle of happiness with my life.

I hope my story shows anyone dealing with depression that you can and will make it through. Love and light, Ashanti"

Meet Corey

Morgan Daniels


What brings you JOY?


Corey's Mental Health Story:

"I have this issue where I would rather work excessively than express how I'm feeling. I've always felt that if I shared what was truly going on in my head then people would use that as a way of counting me out or creating reasons as to why I should not be working. With that, I keep my emotions to myself and continue pushing until I get the job done. I've found that this has done nothing but cause me depression, anxiety, and battles with self-confidence.

As a kid, I felt like I had to be overtly strong in regards to work ethic because I didn't play sports like every other kid. I always felt like proving myself to others was more important than anything. Today, I understand that everyone won't understand you, accept you, or love you for what you have to offer. People will judge every piece of you as a means of finding a flaw and making themselves feel better. So today, I work hard, I give my all to whatever I'm doing, and most importantly I've found the joy I needed to keep myself going.

Today, I have more peace than I thought I could ever find and I'm grateful to God for it. All of that to say, depression is a real thing and if you aren't mentally healthy, you're hurting the world more than you're healing it."

Meet Kaya

Morgan Daniels

What brings you joy?

What brings me joy is knowing I'm on the path to becoming a better me. I have joy because I am able to change my life and the lives of others.

Kaya's Mental Health Story:

"Depression is something I’ve known about my whole life. I saw my mother struggle with it as a single parent, and I watched my older sister struggle with it in her teens. I honestly grew up accepting that being depressed is normal, and that when times got hard you were allowed to shut yourself away, turn off all the lights, and fall into this dark emotional hole.

Since that was my childhood, I was probably one of the last people to realize the severity of my depression once I got to Spelman College. By the end of my senior year, I had been committed to a mental hospital twice, attempted suicide, been through several therapists/psychiatrists, experienced alcoholism, developed social anxiety, and lost so many friends… all while carrying so many campus titles/positions. I can’t lie, it was an extremely dark period in my life but I made it through by support.

The support of my family, and my Spelman sisters was so overwhelming, they showed me my life was important when I couldn’t see that. I had to be brave enough to say to everyone “I’m not okay”, and honestly that was the first step towards recovery. Depression will always be something I have to manage, but at least now I know that with my support system and God on my side, that it doesn’t have to be something I have to manage alone."

Kaya Rand is the founder of She Unplugged.

Meet Kiyla

Morgan Daniels

What brings you JOY?

When the blessings and grace that God pours into me overflows and pours into others.

Kiyla's Mental Health Story:

"A lot of people don't understand why Frank Ocean hasn't dropped his album. He's talented and we're in dire need of his gift. It wasn't until I cried one morning that I truly got it.

Just like Boys, I cry. I was your typical type-A kid the honor student, the editor-in-chief, director of this, coordinator of that, head of this organization, vice president, founder, drama club, belly dancing, cheerleading, student government, etc. I did it all and them some.

Within two weeks of walking onto my college campus, I had already gotten a reputation after printing out a two page resumé and running against three boys for class president, I was a force to be reckoned with. I had friends, I had positions, I was in college on a full-ride scholarship.

"There was no reason to ever be upset or stressed or anxious or depressed..." That's what I told myself each and every time I didn't feel quite my best. Even when the overwhelming stress lead to me becoming physically sick, I told myself that everything would be okay and this was all just a small thing. How could the "it Girl" have anxiety?

My parents told me to pray and learn to deal with the stress. After a while, they became frustrated and I became resentful. Why couldn't I be normal? I soon began to understand why this was a part of my story and why the Lord had given me this particular story. It was apart of my purpose, to share my story with the world, because it needed to be told. It wasn't until I completely broke the glass of the stigma that haunted me, that I began to heal.

That fateful morning I cried and cried until I felt as if I couldn't breathe and I still wondered, why was the world still requesting for me to be a superhero when I have to save myself?

The same reason why we constantly beg for Frank's album. Always remember, it's a bad religion, to sacrifice your joy for the satisfaction of others, Be a Pilot Jones and take control of your life over anything that plagues you. You deserve joy. Make them serve it to you.

Four hours after I wrote this, he finally dropped the album, I think it's time I begin to share my gift."

Meet Rosalyn

Morgan Daniels

Photo by Rosalyn Billingsley

Photo by Rosalyn Billingsley

What brings you JOY?


Rosalyn's Mental Health Story:

"Having joy means everything in the world to me. Without joy life is dull: colorless, simplistic, boring. But I haven't always felt this way and I haven't always had joy. It wasn't until I realized that having joy is a decision, that I had it in my life everyday. I was tired of letting every circumstance, every heated conversation (why were there so many) sway my outlook on life. some days I was happy, some days I was sad, some days I was depressed and some days I was unstoppable. Can you imagine how draining that is for one's mental health? happiness can easily be snatched away but joy is as solid as a rock, if you make the decision. once I made the decision, I never looked back. every day isn't easy but it's something worth fighting for. I get JOY from spending time with God, being surrounded by creative people, and serving my purpose. On my off days I always remember how hard I fought to get my joy back. Sometimes it's okay not to be okay, but never give up the fight & never back track."

Meet Kailah

Morgan Daniels


What brings you JOY?

Life. Being able to create and travel and enjoy my family and friends.

Kailah's Mental Health Story:

"At the age of 16, the emergency room became my second home. I was passing out every other day, losing my vision and my blood sugar dropped dangerously low at whim. Every week, I was seeing a new physician with no sign of a diagnosis. There were days when I literally couldn't walk from the immense pain ravaging through my body. It rocked me to my core and sent me into a deep depression. I was so tired of being in this body that my freshman year of college, I not only contemplated however, attempted suicide. I filled my tub with water. Took my bottle of prescription pain medication. Emptied them on my tongue. Sat in the tub and waited. I didn't take enough medicine. So, yeah, I failed my suicide attempt. lol

So, I took it as a message that I was still supposed to be here. I switched universities to one closer to home and nearer to my Primary Care Physician. From there, I started taking it day by day with prayer and patience. I learned to live with my illness and within a few months, I was vibrant and back to my old self. Fast forward, four years later. I'm a college graduate, living in New York with my fine ass boyfriend. We are traveling, loving life and in the midst of all of this turn-up- we're pregnant. Wtf. We weren't financially or mentally ready for a child so, we decide on an abortion. It was a difficult choice and to this day, we talk about "what-if".

Long story short, two months after the abortion, I'm hospitalized and diagnosed with Lupus. My physician then follows to tell me that the drug that can counter the pain I have due to Lupus will not only make me lose my hair however, has the potential to make me infertile. Can you say, my entire world went into a haze. I had to choose between never having children..following a recent abortion and living with an unfathomable amount of pain almost everyday of my life. So yea, saying I went into a state of depression was an understatement. Surprisingly, here I am, 6 months later more at peace than I have ever been. Stronger than I've ever imagined. To have endured so much more than what I can even articulate in this excerpt and still be here- is just my testament to God's mercy. The book of Job is my faveeee book of the bible. Oh, and if you're wondering, I decided to forgo the medication and take a naturopathic route which has worked out in my favor.

After a bad break up in high school I experienced a bad period of depression and that was only the beginning. My freshmen year of college it only got worse due to bad relationships and lack of motivation to do well in school. If it wasn't for my decision to love myself I don't know if I would have made it out."

Meet Lilly

Morgan Daniels

Photo by Lilly Mittenthal

Photo by Lilly Mittenthal

"Since the day I could remember I had dealt with major mood swings and started to get pretty bad depression in high school. I spent most of my days stress eating, and sleeping because I just couldn't deal. I went to therapist after therapist and psychologist after psychologist looking for an exact diagnosis and the perfect medication. Suddenly it hit me, they may not have all been diagnosing me with one thing but they were giving me the tools to deal with the emotions I couldn't control. I stopped trying to figure out what was wrong with me and started to focus on my everyday journey. Keep your mind and heart open and it really does wonders!

Wrigley is an Emotional Support animal, a dog who is trained to basically be a therapy dog for you! I totally forgot to add that but he has helped me enjoy and live in the moment as well!"

Meet Michael

Morgan Daniels

“I just want to be happy.” It sounds so simple but this has been my plea to God for the past 16 years. I experienced several traumatic losses during my childhood, including my father, in addition to struggling with identity issues that were never properly dealt with. I shut off my emotions believing I had to be a “strong black man” and embarked down a self destructive path that led to more anguish, heartache, and pain. I filled the void that I felt deep within with extracurriculars and sports during high school, and in college, internships and leadership roles. Insecurities overwhelmed me and I found myself in toxic situationships with those that didn’t truly care about me. It took a nervous breakdown from working 40 hours a week, going to school full time, and dealing with a heartbreak like no other during my sophomore year of college to realize that I needed to do something different. Overworked and emotionally drained from loving someone that was incapable of reciprocating, I found myself physically and mentally unable to proceed like I previously had done. In July of 2015, I set out on a soul searching journey in order to live the life that God has destined for me and truly understand my purpose. It has been difficult and emotionally draining. However, I must put in the work if I want to see the results. Day by day. One step at a time. I owe it to myself. For every night I spent crying, for every blunt I rolled in my old apartment to cope, and for every day I stood on the train platform staring at the edge while the Red Line approached daring myself to end it all. I deserve a shot at happiness and I’m finally ready to give myself that gift.

Meet Gabrielle

Morgan Daniels


My journey with mental health really began when my grandmother died in February 2015. Obviously mental health was something I knew about, but I don't think I gave mine much space before losing my grandmother. Her death just kind of unhinged my world and left this big hole. I left Cornell for two weeks because I just couldn't deal with classes, friends, and expectations. I went home for the funeral and then to CGIU in Miami before going back to school. While the time away was necessary, it also made adjusting back to life on the Hill harder. I ended up having to drop a class and withdrawing from another - things I, often a straight A student, was not used to or comfortable doing. But, my therapist, encouraged me to do so. The loss of my grandmother granted me the best gift I ever gave myself which was therapy sessions and just the ability to let go. Junior spring, the semester in which she passed, was my hardest at Cornell in more ways than one and I walked out of it with a 4.0 GPA. When the sun came out again, I learned that I was capable, that imposter syndrome had no place in my life, and that I needed to let go a little bit. I gave myself the space necessary to grieve my grandmother and the amazing force that she was in my life. In the process, I opened up the doors of growth and self-care. It mattered less to me what others thought of me and I wasn't afraid to say that I was getting counseling. I learned to be transparent about my struggles instead of bottling it all up. I learned that it's okay not to be perfect and I can drop a class or responsibility from time to time if my mental state warrants it. I learned who my real friends were and appreciate them for sticking by me during that time. I gave myself freedom to become the woman I wanted to be, a woman I knew my grandmother would be proud of.