judgment

Amanda "I Thought I Was Lucky"

Amanda "I Thought I Was Lucky"

“At one point, I gave up on everything. For two years, I endured pain that no woman should experience. Physically and emotionally. I remember feeling hopeless, defeated, and angry. I was tired of letting this disease define me and control our lives. I knew I was the only one who could break the cycle. That I was the one who needed to start listening to myself. Two years ago, I made the decision to become my own advocate. I have learned that it is okay to stand up for myself, and that my opinion is valuable. That I am not powerless. That I am not hopeless. And that all I can hope for is a day without pain. Someday…”

READ AMANDA’S STORY HERE

Sarah "A Brighter Path"

Sarah "A Brighter Path"

“I always felt like something was wrong with me, and I was just wrong for existing. I truly believed I was to blame. There was about two or three years in a row where I was just feeling guilty over every single thing I did and said, and I just wanted to be gone, to not have to deal with life anymore because life isn't worth living. When I was at my lowest of lows, it looked like defeat, like hopelessness. Today, I want people to know that you're not alone, and that there's always something to get you through it, regardless of how terrible it feels. Life is so worth living and you'll find your reason, you just haven’t found it yet.”

READ SARAH’S STORY HERE

Alexis "Somebody Does Care"

Alexis "Somebody Does Care"

“It felt like at one point everybody hated me, and I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear my side of the story. Still, I always saw a little bit of hope, even in the dark thoughts and dark places. Anytime I went through something really dark and depressing there was always just a little bit a hope because I knew I wasn’t the only one going through it. I knew that I was capable of speaking out and helping other people too. I knew that I needed to feel like I am one in the world that has a voice; even in the darkest of times when you really don’t feel like you have a voice at all.”

READ ALEXIS’S STORY HERE

Gary "Worth Something"

Gary "Worth Something"

“Right now I’m struggling with being homeless. Knowing where I’m gonna lay my head, gettin' up in the morning, wondering where my next meal gonna come from. The struggles of homelessness...dealing with the suicide issue...I felt left alone in the dark, I didn’t care, didn’t have no home, didn’t want to live. Didn’t want to be here, just wanted to be resting in peace. ‘Cause being homeless is no rest at all. When I leave up outta here...see, you go home and lay your head on a pillow, and I gotta put mine down on some cement.”

READ GARY’S STORY HERE

Angie "I Am Good Enough"

Angie "I Am Good Enough"

“I started a downward spiral that I couldn’t stop. I didn’t like how it felt. I knew I was struggling. I started to get criticism from people, and because I was a people-pleaser, I tried to do everything people wanted me to do. I thought I was staying strong by doing it on my own and not asking for help. What was strong and courageous was for me reaching out for help. That is true strength and true courage. And the more I reached out, the more I found out that other people had gone through it, or were going through it. They had a mask on too, and eventually the circle of support was unbelievable.”

READ ANGIE’S STORY HERE

Laurel "Don't Fake Happiness"

Laurel "Don't Fake Happiness"

“You wouldn’t normally think that a nine year old would hate their life and wouldn’t want to live anymore, but nine years old was probably the worst year of my life. I first started feeling depressed around the age of six, and for me, being depressed is such a vulnerable feeling; and I just don’t want to fake happiness. Depression can really just feel like you’re not living anymore. At times I felt helpless and like there was no point because I was so focused on what was happening at the moment and I didn’t see myself having a better future or getting better for a long time. Every day it felt like I was putting myself through more torture, but eventually I found things in the moment that helped me just get through each day…”

READ LAUREL’S STORY HERE

Angela "It's Never Hopeless"

Angela "It's Never Hopeless"

“I remembered saying no. After having that realization, feelings and flashbacks started coming back to me. There was nothing I could do to get what I had back. Those men had taken something from me. I am supposed to have the right to say no. I didn’t even know what happened until two weeks afterwards. Not only did they take something from me that I couldn’t get back, they left horrible disturbing feelings in its place. I felt like there was nothing I could do and they got away with it.

Not only do I still have my life but I have brought a new one into this world; a beautiful baby girl. I am so in love with her and she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. She inspires me to show her how awesome life can be. I know that even if it is really, really bad and nothing makes sense and it just seems hopeless, it is never hopeless. Don’t ever think it’s hopeless.”

READ ANGELA’S STORY HERE

Amy "Different Varieties of Human"

Amy "Different Varieties of Human"

“How do you explain to your children that there was a common belief in the not-so-distant past that a person could be treated as property, not given basic human rights, separated from the rest of society and brutalized due to nothing other than skin pigmentation? How do you tell them that in their own country, a country whose core beliefs espouse freedom and equality, there are still people who hold hatred towards people of color?”

READ AMY’S STORY HERE

Laura "Anorexia Misdiagnosed"

Laura "Anorexia Misdiagnosed"

“Thirteen years ago, I nearly died from a common medical condition after constant misdiagnosis. Now, despite my life not going exactly as I had envisioned it, I wouldn’t change what happened to me because I have been given the opportunity to see life and death literally and help save many others who are suffering.”

READ LAURA'S STORY HERE

Monica "Focus on the Beauty"

Monica "Focus on the Beauty"

"“Do you have any friends left?” were the first words I heard in the recovery room when I woke up after delivering my first son by emergency C-section, at age seventeen. The nurse was referring to me having a mixed-race child. I verbally defended my child as much as I could given the state I was in, but this would soon be only one situation out of many where the color of my now-three sons would determine how people spoke to and treated us.”

READ MONICA'S STORY HERE

Bailey "Out of the Ashes"

Bailey "Out of the Ashes"

“It wasn't until seventh grade that I started to realize just how different I really was. People started to bully me because they felt like I was too feminine and emotional. Finally, I was known as "the closeted gay kid" by my peers. There were a few boys who would wait outside the lunch room every day and corral me into the handicapped stall of the boys' bathroom, and taking turns, two of them would hold me while the other slung insults at me—along with occasional punches to the stomach reminding me "you're nothing,” "you're worthless," "your parents would be so ashamed if they knew who you really were"—those were the things they would say to me, and those were the things that I would carry around with me like my backpack.”

READ BAILEY’S STORY HERE

Kevin & Petra "Judgment"

Kevin & Petra "Judgment"

"There's a lot of people who judge, and I don't want to be judged. God is the only one who can judge me."

WATCH KEVIN AND PETRA'S SHORT FILM HERE

Eli "The Challenging Gift"

Eli "The Challenging Gift"

“Eli doesn't have some miraculous story of survival. But as his mother, I feel that his story is worth sharing as a means of awareness; I don't think that society as a whole understands the gifted community. So many see being gifted as something not even worth mentioning -- because he's seen as showing off -- or struggles he may have aren't taken seriously because he's "smart enough to get over it." His struggles are similar to those within the autism spectrum, but because he is NOT autistic, people (past teachers included) brush it off as misbehavior or ADHD, when, in fact, they're dealing with an under-stimulated, gifted child.” - Eli’s mom

READ ELI’S STORY HERE