Meet our Bloggers

Meet Where I Stand’s Bloggers

Where I Stand bloggers are individuals who have a passion for erasing the stigma associated with mental health and spreading hope and awareness through their education, knowledge, personal and professional experience. Where I Stand welcome’s guest bloggers in the areas of: Mental Health Awareness, Recovering Planning, Bullying, Eating Disorders, Body Image, Substance Abuse, Recovery, Faith and Healing, Mental Health in k-12 Education, Women’s Mental Health, Depression, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders, Perspectives from the Mental Health Professionals, and College Mental Health. If you are interested in blogging for Where I Stand about one or more of these things please download our guest blogger application and email it to Erin Casey at erin@thisiswhereistand.com. You will then be contacted to set up a phone interview.

Blogger Application

** If you are interested in blogging for our purple love campaign be sure to note that on your application

Gest Blogger Rachel

Rachel Gribling

Current City: St. Andrews, Scotland UK

Topics: Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Born in Goppingen, Germany to US army parents, Rachel has always had an inherent desire to travel the world. Before high school, she has lived in 6 other locations around the world and within the US. Rachel is a postgraduate student at the University of St. Andrews studying international relations. She is a James Madison University alumna from the class of 2012 where she studied political science and Spanish. Currently living life as an American expat in Scotland, Rachel first fell in love with British culture when she became an exchange student at Oxford University in England. Her British obsession ultimately led her to studying in St. Andrews, Scotland where she plans to finish her masters degree. She hopes to find a job in consulting in Edinburgh or London where she can enjoy expat living.

Why Where I Stand?: I am passionate about helping other people fight and cope with mental illness. In 2009 during my sophomore year of college, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder which manifested itself through panic attacks, an eating disorder and depression. Like many college-aged women, I too have experienced the pain and fear of the unknown that is mental illness. The hardest part was hiding my anxiety from other people. I was constantly wearing a mask where I would try to appear “put together”, as if nothing was going wrong in my life when in reality, I was crying out for help on the inside. It wasn’t until one night where I found myself on the bathroom floor of my D.C. flat reading Jeremiah 29 when I heard Him speak to me, “This isn’t the life I have planned for you. I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you.” When I travelled for the first time to the UK, I was living out what I believed God had revealed to me – life can be beautiful and you can live a life full of joy. Through a renewed commitment to God, constant prayer, and support from family and friends, I have broken free from the chains of depression and anxiety. I’m conquering anxiety and depression by clinging to and relying on God daily. I’m still learning what it means to “be anxious for nothing” like it says in Philippians, but I am confident that God has brought me through the worst of my disorder and will continue to be my source of peace.  

Rachel’s interests: Travel, Politics, Cooking, Writing, Photography, Music, Yoga, Reading, Blogs

deniseDenise Kirschner, Purple Love Guest Blogger

Current City: Avon, Connecticut

Topics: Eating Disorders, Anxiety Disorder

I am blessed.  Born in 1974 in Trumbull, Connecticut to a mother who retired from teaching to raise her children and a father who was an electrical engineer, I was constantly surrounded with love and affection from both my parents as well as my older brother.  My childhood and teenage years are filled with memories of spending time with my family. I loved going to dance class, playing catch, going for walks, and exploring the woods behind my house.  I loved baking with my mother, going over to my gramma and grampa’s house and watching Wheel of Fortune, and reading comic books with my brother. I was and am loved. 

Later, I attended the University of Connecticut and graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Elementary Education, and thus embarked on a meaningful career as a teacher and reading specialist.  Upon graduating, I met a man who I entrusted with my love and my dreams.  Several years later, we married and everything changed; that’s when she, ED, came as did the anxiety. After years of not fitting in at school because I always looked different, I was desperate for his acceptance. In order to fit his mold of the perfect wife, I lost my “self”, my self-worth, my identity, my spirit…I lost friends and distanced myself from everyone and everything I cared about.  I did not fight his ideal or his demands…I just wanted his love.  For years I believed he loved me and that I loved him; friends and family thought the same.   In 2011, 8 years later, I ended the marriage…I had to.  My eating disorder and anxiety had flourished alongside of his eating disorder.  I had to leave…my life depended on it…it was my only chance of achieving recovery that constantly eluded me. 

Now three years later, as I approach my 40th birthday, I have rediscovered who I am.  Through therapy, treatment, and the support from friends and family, I am learning that I am a strong woman.  As a woman who had the courage to end a toxic relationship, I now believe that I am a woman who has the strength to live a life in recovery.  And for that I have hope.

Why Where I Stand?:  While in my marriage, my eating disorder and anxiety were hidden. After all, what perfect wife had anxiety…this led me to feel as though I was damaged and crazy.  It took therapy and education for me to learn that mental illness is an illness; it is not a choice and it is no different from someone who suffers from a physical illness. I have found it liberating to share my journey and struggles.  As I talk freely, I help my chances of recovery.  When I speak to others, I help them…I educate, I inform, and I help erase a stigma that exists towards mental illness.  These stigmas associated with eating disorders and other mental illnesses occur because people are misinformed, ignorant, and in need of truth and knowledge.  There is no better way to do this then to share a first-hand journey, my journey, so that people can see that I am no different from them and they are no different from me…for them to see that anyone – the man sitting next to them, their sister, their friend, their mother – might be faced with the same struggle the same experiences Speaking about mental health allows me to play an integral part in reducing misconceptions, prejudices, and helps those who face similar challenges to see and feel less shame and less alone. For me, being a part of Where I Stand represents hope…the hope that people will understand mental illness and recognize that people who have a mental illness are individuals; the hope that people will no longer be defined as their illness…the hope that with raised awareness, they will see there is nothing to fear and most of all for them to see how they can love and support their friends and family.  Where I Stand represents hope for my future and for me. 

Interests/Hobbies: love to create, finding out who I really am, surprising myself with what I can do, painting, reading, spending time with friends and family, working as a literacy coach, coloring, being an aunt, painting and decorating pottery, coloring, designing graffiti type words, writing…living

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAChristina Calhoun

Current City: Harrisonburg, Va

Topics: Substance Abuse, Anxiety and Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Self-Harming

Growing up, I lived with an abusive, and controlling alcoholic father. It was hard seeing someone you love be so difficult on themselves and their family. I firmly believed and even told myself when I was younger that I would never abuse alcohol. But things change. When I was in highschool I began drinking and partying with my friends because it was “the cool thing to do” at that age. As I grew older and got out of highschool I began looking for parties; even if it consisted of people I didn’t know just to get drunk. I hated the idea of anyone trying to control me. So when I began partying heavily and someone stated I had drank too much or should probably stop, I did just the opposite. The same thing occurred when people told me I shouldn’t drive. I was a drunk driver for many years. When I met my fiancé Joseph, I slowed down with partying and generally drank only with him and his friends. Casually enjoying a glass or wine or playing a few games and while getting drunk still occurred, it wasn’t a 3-4 times a week experience. Throughout our relationship, as we became more comfortable, I began drinking heavier again. During this time I would consider myself a bing drinker. In 2009, I had a night of heavy drinking and driving that changed my life. I went into a couple years worth of deep depression and experienced numerous anxiety attacks that changed who I was. I still get upset to this day when I think about that night, but I trust God knowing that he had a purpose behind it all. Over the next couple of years, I still drank, going in and out of jobs and happiness, and even becoming abusive to others while intoxicated. I also began harming myself physically as a failed attempt to ease my pain; I still have scars that remind me of my struggle. Thankfully at some point dying that misery I chose to actively purse sobriety. I still can’t believe that the man I caused so much turmoil with my drinking is standing beside me and marrying me this June! God is good. He is merciful and never ending! Sobriety is beautiful, and each day I thank the Lord for getting me through 24 more hours of clear-headedness. “One day at a time”

Why Where I Stand? When I first found out what Where I stand represented, I immediately felt comforted. I have faced many things throughout my years that has made me feel alone. I even had my mother at times say “I don’t know what you’re feeling or what it means?” Although my mom has done everything humanly possible to understand what I have gone through and to understand what I feel or have felt, she still has never experienced these feelings and emotions first hand and that still leaves open ended questions. Where I Stand, helps to reassure me that I’m not alone. That there are many people of different ages, races and of the opposite sex that show me that I have support, understanding and acceptance. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be one more person that can and will help someone else know that they’re not alone. That they don’t have to hide or feel ashamed. I’ve suffered with substance abuse, depression and anxiety for numerous years… I want others to know they always have someone on their side… I’m Christina, and this is Where I Stand!

Interests/Hobbies: I love learning about the body and the brain. I thoroughly enjoy to see how we, as humans, are wired and I am not bothered by any type of bodily fluids or parts. I am currently pursuing and Medical Coding Certificate, and in 2015 will be starting Nursing School!

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.

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

1526846_10203097045012236_767809001_nHollyn Donovan

Current City: Plano, Texas

Topics: depression, anxiety, eating disorders

I’ve grown up in a loving home with 2 married parents and a younger sister. I also have an Corgi/Australian Shepherd mix dog whom I love dearly. I was diagnosed with generalized and social anxiety disorders when I was 9 and after being bullied and attempting suicide, was diagnosed with depression when I was 12. My eating disorder developed in high school and I’ve battled it consistently for the last 3 years. Since starting DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) my life has completely changed. I feel so much more capable of handling my emotions, particularly my anxiety around food and my body. I am so thankful for a chance to work on bettering myself both physically and psychologically with DBT.
I’m currently in community college with the intent to transfer to a larger school and major in social work. I have a passion for nonprofit organizations and for changing the (currently mostly horrendous) public policies and laws regarding mental health.

Why Where I Stand?: I know well what it’s like to feel alone on my journey with mental health and I don’t want anyone else to feel alone like I did. I’m also am determined to change the view that a large amount of society holds about mental health. Why does society feel that it is okay to have a problem with any part of your body except for your brain? Mental Illnesses are just as legitimate as any other illness and I want to help other people understand that. Also, darkness only lasts for so long. Things do get better and I can personally testify to that. I want to encourage others to never give up hope and to always keep trying for a better life.

Interests/Hobbies: animals, music, special needs children and young adults, mental health awareness/advocacy, learning about different religions & Buddhism, writing, the internet, occasional art projects, and public speaking

9 thoughts on “Meet our Bloggers”

  1. Audra Anderson said:

    Welcome Lizzie! Looking forward to hearing your “voice” through Where I Stand. Enjoyed hearing your story.

  2. Carly Rauch said:

    I have suffered from anorexia and bulimia for the past 20years and it has been really hard. I am living in recovery and am extremely passionate about sharing my experiences and speaking about this. I want to spread the message that recovery is possible. It is the hardest thing I do but it ultimately had to be worth it.

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