Where I Stand

We Stand for hope, overcoming obstacles, self expression, saying who you are and living out your passion.

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Meet Where I Stand’s Newest Blogger Alexa Witcofsky!

1904273_10202117992566022_1569013516_nAlexa Witcofsky

Current City: Harrisonburg, VA

Topics: Eating Disorders, Depression, Anxiety, College Life

When I turned 18, I headed off to College at James Madison University in Virginia. I knew very few people at the school and was too shy to meet new people, so I put my focus on classes. I finished my freshman year with a great GPA, but nothing else to show. I had made only one or two good friends, I wanted to transfer schools, and I was experiencing anxiety and depression I had never felt before. A lot of these feelings manifested as hatred towards my body and I decided that being “healthier” would be my focus for the summer. I started to count calories and restrict, but convinced myself it would make me look better and feel better about myself. I didn’t realize how out of control things had gotten until a few days before I returned to college. This was the first time I broke down crying about food. I had spent the whole summer isolated, depressed, and so in my eating disorder that I didn’t know how to function without it. By February, I was no longer healthy mentally or physically, and I realized I couldn’t fight it by myself. I left school and went to the west coast for treatment.

Standing here, a year after leaving school, I can honestly say this was the best decision I have made. Not only have I been able to reclaim my life, but this experience also gave me new direction. I got to learn so much about myself through my struggle, and I know I can use this for good. Now, finishing up my junior year of college, I aspire to be a mental health nurse practitioner to help those who feel alone in their battles.

 Why Where I Stand: Because together we have hope for a better future. I want to advocate for mental health and everyone who has ever felt stigmatized by a diagnosis. We don’t have to hide our struggles in life. As a nursing student, the way I look at mental illness is: My lungs are organs, my brain is an organ. Why is it okay to tell people that I have pneumonia, but not that I’m depressed? I know that by telling my story and connecting with others who share this passion, there are many positive changes that can be made.

 Interests/Hobbies: Hiking, Music, Yoga, Watching videos of pygmy goats online

Are you interested in blogging for Where I Stand? Click Here



Let’s be honest: Depression sucks.

tumblr_m2wpopuP9G1r3952to1_500If you’ve heard me talk you know what I Stand for, you know my story, you know that I advocate very strongly that mental illnesses are NOT death sentences and that there is life (lot’s of it) in learning to navigate and use mental health tools to your advantage. You know that I believe mental health is for EVERYONE. You’ve also heard me talk about how challenging living with a mental illness is.

Honestly, most of the time I tend the shy away from the nitty gritty details of depression and anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, personality disorders, behavioral disorders and other mental illnesses that the world casts so much stigma and shame on because there is already so much darkness there and I hate to add to it.

But, there comes a point where sometimes the truth is dark. Sometimes the truth is ugly. Sometimes the truth is painful, and ignoring it is only going to make it worse.

I deal with depression pretty regularly on and off. I swallow my cocktail of prescription medications on a daily basis. I use the DBT skill MEDDSS to track how I’m doing. I constantly talk myself out of negative thought processes and into living my life. I have a therapist.

But today I’m just going to say it: Depression really sucks.

It sucks that it’s hard to get out of bed sometimes. It sucks that it’s hard that even with loved ones I feel alone. It sucks that this dark cloud that follows me on my bad days just looms there, even when really good things happen – and while I know I should be happy; I can’t. It sucks when I smile and wave at people, but really just feel like an empty shell. Everything is a chore. Everything is difficult. Everything hurts. The time moves in slow motion as I pray for nightfall. The world seems foggy and grey.

Thankfully for me, the depths and lengths of my depressions are not as bad or deep or long as they once were. But they are still there. I use to fight them, fight them like hell, as if I were waging a war against the universe. I would not sleep, or only sleep; I would yell and scream at people for reasons I didn’t even understand. I would take it out on my body in extreme ways.

Today I don’t fight it anymore. I know what it is, kind of like a headache or a migraine or a stomach ache. I acknowledge that it sucks. I allow myself to take it as easy as I need to. I ask myself what I need while I’m not feeling well.

In order to heal we must become aware; in order to become aware we must be honest.

Let’s be honest: Depression Sucks.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

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Meet Where I Stand’s newest blogger Dawn Sachleben!

IMG_7804Dawn Sachleben

Current City: Olalla, Washington

 Topics: Eating Disorders, Body Image, Addiction, Depression, Anxiety, and Recovery.

 I grew up on the beach of Southern California with two younger siblings. My parents loved us and did everything they could for us but there were problems on the horizon and it was felt in the home. At a young age I developed a love for dance, the only problem was I was much bigger than the other dancers and that was the beginning of my disease. My disease started with restrictions and later turned into bulimia. I had such a unhealthy relationship with food that my eating disorder just became a way of life. I was depressed and constantly anxious, I would pray that I would just go to sleep and never wake up. As a teenager my mother looked for help for me but at that point I was afraid to say what really was going on and I was a master of disguises. No one really ever knew how sick I truly was. This went on for years but along the way I would pick up other destructive behaviors I became a addict and alcoholic and in my thirties lost everything including the custody of my children. I had given up, I felt as if I couldn’t fight anymore. In January of 2011 my stepsister died due to complications with her eating disorder and addictions. This sent me further on a path of destruction and by the end I had isolated myself completely. Then one day I woke up and decided I had, had enough and decided I needed help but had know idea where to go or who to turn too. Luckily I somehow figured it out and today I am here to share my story of recovery and let others know that I have been there and there is hope.

 Why where I Stand?: Because together we are strong. Where I Stand has brought me so much comfort. Knowing that there are others like me out there has helped my recovery and now I want to help others who may be feeling lost and alone. Our stories are powerful and inspiring and we should be proud of who we are because we are enough. Society needs to be educated about mental health. The diseases that fall into this category need to be talked about and not ignored. There should not be guilt and shame associated with them. We should be able to talk about them freely without the negative stigma and I am passionate about spreading hope and being a voice for us.

 Interests/Hobbies: I love to paint and draw and be artsy. I love to dance my heart out when no one is looking. I love the smell and sounds of the ocean. I love Music. I love to write and learn. I am currently back in school working on my degree in Social Services Mental Health.

Are you interested in applying to be a Blogger for Where I Stand?
Click Here.

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Family, Food, & Fun? Coping with Mental Health During a Holiday Weekend

Happy Easter!

eastereggs1You might be celebrating your faith this weekend; or maybe for you it’s all about honey baked hams, Easter Egg Hunts, and Chocolate Bunnies (quite possibly it’s a combination of the two) – or for some of you it’s just a plain old weekend like any other. Regardless, holidays spiritual or commercial bring up a lot of “crap” and many challenges for those suffering from mental health concerns.

  • Family & Friends
    • Family and friends are great, but we all know that in excess they can cause additional stress, frustration, triggers, expectations and exhaustion. It’s important to acknowledge this because it allows us to plan accordingly. Put breaks into your day where you can separate yourself from the chaos and take 10-15 minutes at a time by yourself. Maybe you need to mentally prepare to see some people who you have had conflicts with in the past and put time limits on the time you spend with them or on the topics of conversations you engage in with them. The key here is remembering that even in and within the chaos of the day, the hour, the event – you remember that you’re worth taking care of, even if that means not pleasing everyone around you.
  • Food
    • Food is often another challenge around any holiday, party or event. I’ve talked with individuals who’ve agonized about what might be served or not served at a holiday party. Other people cope with the stress and anxiety of holidays by gorging themselves on holiday related food. These methods of coping are not only dangerous but they take away from the “fun” that the holiday is supposed to bring. Ideas for dealing with food during a holiday: plan your meals as much as you can based on food groups and set goals based on nutrition rather than exact items. Also, work on intuitive eating and pay attention to how your body feels with the food you are consuming. Ask yourself: Am I hungry? Am I full?
  • Schedules
    • I don’t know about anyone else but when my schedule gets thrown off so does the rest of my life. Humans in general are creatures of habit and we usually like things a certain way. Well, when traveling and going out to parties and planning and events and cleaning ect those things often change. This is often challenging for me so I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel a little “off”. I also remind myself that it’s the holiday that is causing the change and that my life will return to normal shortly. It also helps me to do little things I can control throughout the day, like clean or organize something, go for a walk, or complete a small task to give myself a sense of accomplishment in the craze.
  • Memories
    • Memories both bad and good often surface around the holidays as we reflect with family and friends or think about something we’ve missed out on. This can definitely be distressing but it does not have to be defining. We have a lot more control over our emotions and how we react to them than we think. When old memories begin to surface that are causing distress grab a trusted friend to talk about it, write in your journal, get in an online support community, use a healthy coping skill and also allow yourself to feel; always reminding yourself that feelings are temporary.

I hope you all have a beautiful and blessed Easter Weekend! You all deserve it!

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

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A Message from a Lifeline Recipient

WIS Hand A_Fotor copy

…..I address this to you as you signed my card you guys were so kind to send. I experienced an immediate lift in spirits as I digested the facts, this card was handwritten, it was from people from the other side of the world, who cared, taken time out and spoke from their heart and experience’s, and whom I very unlikely to meet in my life.You know I have been one of those people, everyone’s else’s rock, and as life has progressed I finally hit the wall, the load had finally become too much…But again thank you and the team, beautiful work.

I am humbled as Where I Stand continues to touch lives. Want to get involved? Email erin@thisiswhereistand.com

You can also order one of our HOPE apparel items (tank top, Tee, V-neck, Sweatshirt) to support our mission of prevention and intervention of mental illness through awareness, education and research. Click Here

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand

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Here’s a tool for mental health planning.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 3.10.48 PMMental health planning and recovery planning can seem daunting. I’ve personally thought to myself “how am I ever going to understand myself and all of this stuff?” But let me tell you there is so much hope and a few key things that EVERYONE can do to help make sure that we stay healthy and aware of ourselves throughout our day.

I’ve titled this document “Knowledge is Power”.

It’s so true that we often ‘run’ from knowing ourselves, but in reality that hurts us so much more. Knowing just a few key things can make the difference between a crisis and well, not. Below is the link. I encourage everyone to print it out – keep it with you in your purse, wallet, or backpack and refer to it when your mind goes from being rational to emotional.

The beauty of this sheet is that we don’t have to make the decision or come up with the ideas when we’re struggling – it’s all right there!

Feedback is always welcome.

Be well,

Erin Casey
Where I Stand
Founder and President 

 Knowledge Is Power Resource Click Here 


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