“I was motivated to be different in part because I was different.” –Donna Brazile

Recovery is that moment when you choose yourself over every other influencing factor in your environment. You choose to find and become your most authentic self. This is a difficult and vulnerable decision – and there isn’t a timeline as to when it’s “your turn.”

Working in this field, being a person with ongoing lived experience, and being part of something bigger at Hope Inc. Stories has welcomed me into being Kristen. I have my own special combination of strengths, areas of growth, and my journey. Anxiety gremlins wanted me to conform and fit into a story that wasn’t mine.

Since I went back to therapy in April (yep, of this year), I have dared to be different and more of me. I am more motivated to say no to things that don’t suit me without giving a long, thought out reason. Even more recently, I’m not nervous to consider big changes in my life, even if it would cause a shift to what makes me comfortable. Writing for Hope Inc. Stories is even something that “old me” wouldn’t have dared do – I’d be scared to bare my soul for the world.

Yet two years ago this week, we launched Hope Inc. Stories to do just that. Bare our journeys and our souls to show the light and dark of recovery. We have been motivated by difference to bring more people together in this community. It started as videos, added some recovery talks and art, and now has contributors from all over. We’re a community daring to share our differences to find our similarities. What makes each of us different is actually what makes this website that more exciting.

Here’s to another year of vulnerability, strength, and pushing through together.

Kristen Ellis

Kristen has worked in the mental health field since 2013, with a focus on crisis work, substance use services, and bringing a voice to lived experience. Her ambition is to change the way mental health care and recovery is seen and achieved, so to redefine what it means to defeat adversity.