At 20 years old, I was hospitalized for one month and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’ve had several other hospitalizations since then. I started noticing that I was having difficulties when I wasn’t sleeping or eating. Things that were normal to me became strange. This was a new experience for me, and I didn’t know where my life would go from there. At times I felt alone and there were times I didn’t think I would make it. My faith kept me alive and that is why I am here today.

I started my own business “Still Standing Enterprise” to bring awareness to mental illness—it has helped others smile and have joy in the midst of adversity. I have also shared my story on the news, in newspapers, and spoken at conferences. This work made me realize that though I battled this, it didn’t have to stop me. I love to help and inspire others through my story.

Having a mental illness has definitely been a journey. I maintain wellness by staying on track with school and by surrounding myself with my family and positive people who support and love me. I have also found support through care centers. When my family was there for me it made me feel loved and I felt as if I could get through this obstacle. I began to see a brighter day. I have learned that I am somebody, I am intelligent, and I can do anything I set my mind to. Wellness is an everyday step. It can be hard at times but in fact I am more than a conqueror. Having a mental illness doesn’t separate me from the world in fact it makes me stand out to change the world!