The following story contains sensitive topics related to suicide, eating disorders, sexual trauma and self-harm that may be triggering to the reader. Please be aware of your own mental and emotional wellness 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 my pain, my anxieties 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 there 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 to be myself was something I yearned for most of my young life. I longed to take off my mask and take up as much space as I needed. I just wanted for once to be authentically me and to 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, I have my own list of mental and physical diagnoses. Sprinkle in some past mistakes, cultural conditioning, and traumatic experiences, and you’ll find the recipe for a misperception of worthlessness. I often have to fight a feeling of being an outsider to my family and friends.
Overtime, it has become apparent and heartbreaking that so many of us fight this same battle every day, and I long to do something about it. That’s when the idea for Hope Noted began.
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.
A little of my 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 first husband. I was sexually assaulted by him as a teenager and groomed from age 14 in a religious environment to be his wife. I felt it was my only choice and even an honor to be by his side. I was brainwashed and therefore blinded to see the rescuers in my life who had tried to protect me from this relationship.
- My developing years as a young female were forever marked by this on-going trauma. It was an extremely unhealthy and unsafe marriage and ended in a devastating divorce. Because of this relationship, I was uprooted many times and drove wedges between myself and my friends and family. I lost people who were very close to me. I found myself in the pits of an eating disorder, plagued with PTSD, and a deep depression that led to self-harm.
- After my ex-husband left, my grandmother passed away. Going back home and being around my family for the funeral was a lonely retreat. It took every ounce of strength I had to try and 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. I looked good in my disguise.
- Unfortunately, I let my mental wellness take a beating as it made a home in the trenches of my soul for the next few years. I tried to bury the grief by being BUSY: meeting new people, going back to college, getting a new job… I even got a second chance at love with my now husband, Ryan. He was and is a miracle to me, and still we both brought so much of our own un-healed traumas to the relationship. (I am grateful to share that thanks to intentional and affective therapy we are now experiencing an ever-learning, emotionally healthy and accountable life together!)
- A few days after marrying Ryan, I was in a car accident. I was out of work for three months with a traumatic brain injury. My parents had recently filed for divorce, and my mom slept on our couch. I started to feel numb to the experience of loss and pain.
- Try as I might to make it through, my circumstances and my un-checked mental and emotional wellness were battling full-time against me. After trying to deal with the excruciating grief in the dark and on my own, 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. I am becoming myself – something I believe I will continue to do for the rest of my life.
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 own grieving. Your own 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.
If hope feels impossible to you right now, let me remind you that hope exists even when we don’t feel it. It exists in the people who love us and believe in us, and I know that one day you will find it again.
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.