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Only a handful of my closest friends and family members knew about my mental health condition until the spring of 2016. However, it has been a defining part of my adult life. I only learned to effectively manage my generalized anxiety disorder after everything came to a head in a previous workplace and I was forced to take a leave of absence from work. Before that, it resulted in excruciatingly debilitating depression twice, during which I was completely unrecognizable from my usually cheerful and strong self and could barely function.
I’d spent my academic and professional lives in high-performing, competitive environments, which made my shame and embarrassment that much greater.
My mind was my most prized possession, and it simply did not work during these episodes. I was terrified of people finding out and especially of professional repercussions. I didn’t want people to think less of me, treat me differently, or view me as weak and incapable in the workplace. When I had to take the leave of absence, I believed that my career was over. I wasn’t aware of any peers or role models who had dealt with a similar experience, so I had little hope of overcoming. That of course just made my anxiety worse.
While I’m proud of many of my accomplishments, I am far and away the most proud of learning how to manage my anxiety disorder, which is hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
Having spent my post-business school career in the social sector, I had yet to work at a nonprofit that I felt was 100% “my” mission. I began toying with the idea of starting my own organization in 2015. I wanted to create a nonprofit that would have transformed my own experience as someone navigating the workplace with a mental health condition. There was a big gap in this field and therefore, for better or worse, a lot of room to innovate.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, the biggest decision point around founding Mind Share Partners was not whether I was comfortable launching a startup, but whether I was comfortable sharing my story.
I finally reached the conclusion of
“if not me, then who?”
Anger about the continued prejudice against people with mental health conditions fueled me and clinched my decision to take a risk.
I am now experiencing what it’s like to be a genuinely authentic (and vulnerable!) leader. I’ve been amazed at how liberating and empowering it’s been for me to “come out,” both in my personal life and as a leader of Mind Share Partners. And this is only the beginning. Join me.
Founder & CEO
Mind Share Partners
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