Introducing Sarah Fader, the amazing founder of Stigma Fighters! Her story is such an encouragement to me, and many others. And I want her story to encourage and touch all of you the way it has me!
Sarah has suffered from panic since she was a teen. She says, ” I knew that there was something wrong with me when I was 15. My heart would race uncontrollably. I was afraid of dying. Every day my senior year of high school I would wake up and vomit bile. I was afraid I would never be able to take care of myself when I became an adult because of my mental illness.”
I asked her what a defining moment in her life was when it came to mental illness, because I feel everyone has one. But I also wanted to know what made her want to share her story.
She says, “When I had my children, it was a life defining moment. Suddenly, I had to take care of myself and two other humans. It was time to tell the truth about my mental illness. That’s when I told my story on the Huffington Post.
Statistically it is very common to have mental illness. Therefore, someone that might children know or possibly one of my children may develop a mental illness later in life. And that is nothing to be ashamed of. I want to change the way that the world sees human beings living with mental illness.”
Her children being part of her motivation really touches my heart, because she’s such an amazing mother. Sarah is a single mom, and it’s never easy to be a single parent. But how well she manages her mental illness while also being a single mom of two, makes her a super hero in my eyes!
Mental illness has a grasp on every part of people’s lives, and I wondered how it affected her being a mother. But her response nearly brought me to tears, ” With regard to anxiety it is difficult to parent sometimes. There are plenty of times that I have to remind myself to take a deep breath when I’m feeling stressed with my children. Ultimately, I know that I am a good mother. And I talk to my children when I am feeling anxious. I explain to them what that means in an age-appropriate way that they can understand. The most important thing for my children is that they feel loved.”
I love how she handles it, and I hope to handle it the same way when I one day have kids.
I know that my family isn’t all supportive of me and my mental illnesses, but I wondered how her family felt about hers, because I’ve seen a lot of people with supportive family and a lot with very unsupportive.
” My family knows that I struggle with a variety of mental illnesses. I am very candid and open with them about that and they are very supportive.” I was really happy to know that she does get supoort, because support is so important.
She shared her story on the Huffington Post, her inspiration being her kids, but I wondered how sharing her story affected her negatively or positively.
” The best part of sharing my story was I felt free. A weight was lifted from my heart.The only negative side to sharing my story was the fear that I experienced while writing it. When a caterpillar changes into a butterfly is not a pleasant experience. However, when you come out from the cocoon you are free,” she told me.
This made me wonder how she got the idea of starting Stigma Fighters, to which she said, ” When I shared my story about living with mental illness on the Huffington post I received an outpouring of support. Readers told me that I was brave. They confessed about their own mental illnesses. I realize that there was nowhere for them to tell their stories. So I created a place for them to do that. That place is Stigma Fighters.”
However, she was 15 when she knew something was wrong, which made me wonder if she, like me and so many others, was scared to share it when she was younger.
She told me, ” I was very scared to be vocal about living with mental onus when I was younger. I overcame that fear when I was in my 30s. What made it possible for me to talk about mental illness was that I noticed that more and more people were telling their stories online. Society was beginning to recognize mental illness as somethin real. I am so glad that people are speaking up and being brave and telling their stories.”
Now that she has become such a powerful mental health advocate, I wondered what where the positive things that came from it, and if any negate things, what they were.
“The most difficult part of being a mental health advocate is the lack of understanding in our society about what mental illness is. Unfortunately, there are still people believe that mental illness does not exist. We need to change this.The best part of being a mental health advocate is meeting like-minded people. Another wonderful part of being a mental health advocate is changing the world.”