Kristen

As a child, Kristen experienced significant trauma, including her mother attempting and completing suicide.

When she reached her preteen years, Kristen didn’t know how to manage what she was feeling and turned to alcohol, drugs, and self-harm to mask the pain that she so desperately wanted to keep locked away. The alternative was facing the issues related to her childhood trauma and she did not know how to do that. As a result of this she suffered with debilitating depression and anxiety that affected her in her everyday life. She continued these negative coping skills, including negative self-talk, which drove her down to a very dark place. Quickly, she arrived to a bottom she thought she would never leave.

After going to treatment, where she learned how to replace her negative coping skills with positive ones, she worked hard to incorporate those habits into her life. Kristen attended a recovery high school to finish her education and went on to college. She has many therapy experiences that have proven to be wildly successful, and attends support groups regularly to maintain her ongoing sobriety and abstinence from negative coping skills. Kristen, being a young person in recovery, proves it’s never too late or too early to get the help you need. She has spoken on panels and at board meetings to help educate others in an effective manner break the stigma around mental health and substance use disorder.

Kristen is based in Philadelphia, PA. Speaking engagements beyond 120 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.

Jordan

Jordan

Jordan is a public speaker who discusses the mental health issues and disorders that affect so many of us. He is a survivor of a suicide attempt during his senior year in high school and shares his powerful story of fighting depression and finding recovery.

Jordan is a nationally recognized mental health advocate. In 2008 he addressed a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill. In 2010 he was chosen as one of the “Best of Philly” for his work in public speaking and advocacy. In 2012 he was honored with an Emerging Humanitarian Award from retired San Francisco 49ers player Nmadi (Nam-DEE) Asomugha (Awesome-Wah) and the Asomugha Foundation.

 

 

He has been featured in People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today. Jordan has appeared on ESPN’s E:60 and Outside the Lines, as well as Dr. Phil, The Ricki Lake Show, CNN, the Early Show and Good Morning America. He has been featured in three documentaries and his piece, “Unbreakable” with E:60 was nominated for an Emmy. Most recently, you might have seen Jordan at the White House for the National Conference on Mental Health, hosted by President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Jordan has been speaking on his story and mental health all over the country for the last 8 years. He’s spoken in 32 different states and 3 different countries. His presentation is meant to inspire, educate and allow others to know they’re not alone.

Jordan is based in Philadelphia, PA. Speaking engagements beyond 120 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.

Sarika

Ever since she can remember, Sarika held herself to impossible standards. She strived to be the best in all that she did, hoping to please those around her. Soon she became dependent on others’ approval for her own self-confidence. When she began to notice her sadness from the constant internal stress she was creating, she attempted to share her emotions with those around her. However, the way people reacted to these revelations was different than how they reacted to her achievements, and not in a positive way. Stung by that reception, she decided to keep her feelings hidden.

The worse Sarika felt inside, the more she needed approval on the outside. She searched for this anywhere she could find, either through praise from her teachers or acceptance from her peers. Still, Sarika was not able to feel truly okay. She started to hate who she was and the way she looked, and her sleeping and eating patterns changed. One day, her feelings took over her and she completely disassociated from herself. No longer able to hide her emotions, she was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety. Sarika felt herself losing control over her life and decided to ignore the diagnoses, continuing to seek validation through achievement. However, everything became worse when she began being cyberbullied, which deprived Sarika of the remaining confidence in herself. This increased her feelings of losing control. In an attempt to feel that she had control over something in her life, she began to self-harm, which ultimately led to a suicide attempt. Even then, Sarika still did not want to accept her diagnoses or seek treatment. Instead, she found unhealthy ways of managing her sadness and soon became victim to sexual assault, as well as an emotionally abusive relationship.

Sarika desired an escape from her life as it was and became thrilled when she was accepted into NYU. When she learned that even her acceptance to a world-renowned university was receiving criticism, she finally realized that she could no longer leave her self-worth in the hands of others. Sarika began to understand for that trying to be “perfect” was an unrealistic goal; nobody is perfect, and nobody can control how other people perceive them. If she stayed dependent on others’ approval instead of finding confidence within herself, she would never be happy.

Sarika decided to distance herself from what she thought others wanted and to focus on what she truly desired. She began to follow her passions for dance and writing, as well as befriend people who brought out the best in her. She finally accepted that she was worth something, and that she deserved to be happy. This led Sarika to therapy, where she learned about herself and how her mind works. She discovered the power of understanding and working through her emotions, rather than pushing them away. Sarika hopes to inspire others to accept themselves for who they are and to appreciate each and every quality they possess, regardless of social norms. She wants to motivate those who are struggling to seek help, and to empower listeners to become the sole master of their own minds.

Sarika is based in New Jersey. Speaking engagements beyond 120 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.

Lucas

Lucas

When Lucas was in high school, he’d tell you he had a perfect life. He was known for his no-stress, go-with-the-flow attitude, and an unshakeable confidence in his ability to achieve anything he put his mind to. No one would have ever thought he’d struggle with depression, including Lucas himself.

In his junior year, he began to experience the early stages of depression. He was confused why his outside life didn’t match his inside feelings. He didn’t feel justified in feeling depressed because his outside circumstances were all great.

Because he didn’t know depression was an illness that could affect anyone, Lucas hid his silent battle through high school and into college. He thought graduation, an internship, a job, would bring relief or happiness. He received a dream internship in New Mexico and thought it would be a turning point for positive change. Instead, isolated from his friends, family, and support, his depression became much worse.

During his last semester at college, his depression became so severe he lost the ability to eat. He reached out to his family, and they helped him find a doctor to start the recovery process. As he learned about his depression and saw the progress he made in recovery, he came to wish that he had known the truth about it back when the feelings started.

Inspired to help other teens having the same experience, Lucas chose to go and share his story with his high school in order to raise awareness and normalize the conversation. Now, Lucas speaks out about his battle with depression to let others know there is always hope, and that there is a wonderful life on the other side of depression.

Lucas is based in Princeton, NJ. Speaking engagements beyond 120 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.

Andrew

Andrew had it all entering his senior year at Muhlenberg College. He was a starting defensive back for the football team, named captain of the track and field team, and already had a full-time position upon graduation with a large accounting firm in Philadelphia. However, an injury in the first game of the season and increasing pressure to perform caused drastic changes for him. Andrew lost his identity and began deeply struggling. His issues started with insomnia with trouble concentrating in class and on the field. This led him to spiral into a deep, lonely hole. Andrew hid his struggles from family and friends as he pretended that everything was fine, until he experienced suicidal ideations and reached a point where he desperately needed help. After a visit to the ER, he was diagnosed with major clinical depression and severe anxiety, which was extremely difficult for him to accept.

With a strong support group behind him, Andrew and his family began taking the needed steps toward recovery. He took medication for his depression and anxiety and began both psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. It was difficult at first, but over time Andrew began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. He turned to exercise and positive coping skills to work through his inner anger and pain. As his life started to gradually improve, Andrew shared his story in spring of 2014 with many of his teammates, classmates, and friends in the hopes that it would help someone else. The overwhelmingly positive feedback he received inspired him to continue talking about mental health. Andrew’s goal in working with Minding Your Mind is to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issue, and help others who may be suffering to know that they are not alone and that it gets better.

Andrew is based in Philadelphia, PA. Speaking engagements beyond 120 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.