The following story contains sensitive topics related to suicide, eating disorders, and self-harm that may be triggering to the reader. Please be aware of your own mental health and safety before continuing.
See that smiling girl up there? That’s me, Alisa, Founder of Hope Noted. And I can honestly say that the smile you see on my face in this picture is genuine. Even though I was battling insecurity that day, I really was feeling contentment in my journey.
AND still there are several photos of me where my smile is hiding a story full of pain and grief. I have a feeling you can relate. You look at those pictures and think to yourself, “If only they knew how I had cried myself to sleep that night, and barely made it to the party in the first place.”
Photos house a lot of secrets don’t they? So do people. But I want you to know that no matter what your secrets are, you are welcome here. I really mean that.
Feeling “welcome” was something I yearned for most of my young life. I craved the “I can take off my mask and take up as much space as I need to” feeling. I just wanted for once to be myself and believe that was enough. I wanted to be seen and known and understood. Don’t we all?
So what does all that have to do with Hope Noted?
Well like many of you, my list of mental and physical diagnoses has grown longer than I can fully understand. Each new label makes me feel a little bit more jaded. Sprinkle in some past mistakes that have left me fighting an overwhelming perception of worthlessness, and I often have to fight this feeling of being an outsider to my family and friends.
I have grown increasingly aware that so many of us fight this same battle, and I am longing to do something about it.
Maybe you’re wondering what I have to offer you. That’s a fair question.
All I can give you is my honest self, my story, and this space I have created for connection, support, and hope.
My fight story:
- Mental illness runs in my family. My mom has battled severe borderline personality disorder my whole life which led to multiple suicide attempts. I will never forget being curled up in her hospital bed in the ICU praying she would open her eyes, but knowing that she didn’t want to wake up. I remember telling her over and over again how much I loved her, but feeling deep inside that my love would never be enough to keep her alive. She is so strong, truly my hero, but that doesn’t make the experiences less painful.
- When I was 19 years old, I married my high school sweetheart. It was an extremely unhealthy and unsafe relationship, and ended in a devastating divorce. Because of this, I was uprooted many times, and drove wedges between myself and my friends and family. I found myself in the pits of an eating disorder, plagued with PTSD nightmares, and a deep depression that led to self-harm.
- A few months after my ex-husband left, my grandmother passed away. Going back home and being around my family for the funeral was exhausting. It took every ounce of strength I had to try and disguise the fatigue in my voice, to hide the bags under my eyes and the scars on my wrist. I wobbled up on stage to do a reading at Grandma’s service, and I almost collapsed from malnourishment. “Are you ok?” they asked. “It’s just nerves” I lied.
- Unfortunately, I let the mental illness go on like this for a few years. In that time, I tried to bury the grief by meeting new people, going back to college, getting a new job… I even got a second chance at love with my now husband, Ryan. Of course it was a rocky start as I had trouble trusting in him, and we both brought so much baggage to the relationship. (Thanks to therapy we are now experiencing an ever-growing, ever-learning, emotionally healthy and accountable life together!)
- A few days after our wedding I was in a car accident. I was out of work for three months, while my parents filed for divorce, and my mom slept on our couch for a bit.
- Try as I might to make it through, my circumstances and my un-checked depression and anxiety were working full-time against me. After trying to deal with the excruciating pain of so much loss all on my own for so long, my mind inevitably broke down. I was seriously ill and in emotional distress.
Thanks to professional help in both inpatient and outpatient settings, I started on my path toward healing. I’m walking this new path every day. Doing the necessary work in therapy each week, staying on top of my health and medications, and leaning on my support system, have all made the grief process much easier to navigate.
Even though I continue to face new hardships, my mind is finally free to release the fear and shame I use to relate with them, and I have hope that these new challenges will not defeat me. I don’t feel so alone.
Why Hope Noted?
I know you have a story that has been marked by your own suffering. Your fight. Your own illnesses, labels and losses. Your own imperfectness and misunderstandings. All of that makes up your story and ALL OF IT MATTERS. Your story – the healthy parts and unhealthy parts – are nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t want you to struggle alone or feel like an outsider anymore.
On those days when I thought I couldn’t go on, a few significant people in my life taught me that even a life with pain is a life worth living. They were holding onto a hope for me that I couldn’t find in myself and that’s what I want Hope Noted to be for others.
We are all on our own continuous path to becoming more healthy versions of ourselves, but we can’t do it alone. We need the attention, validation, and connection that we are inherently worthy of just by existing. I created Hope Noted with that mission as the forefront.
And now I personally invite you to join us on our mission of finding hope and passing it on.
I encourage you to find someone to lean on when the darkness is overwhelming. You are not alone in your struggle, and you are always welcome here in our Hope Noted family.