YOUR story : dana


  Thursday, 5.23.13


i honestly can't even begin to describe how incredible receiving stories & meeting with people for the i want to know YOUR story project has been.

it has been humbling, inspiring, refreshing & all in all, leaving me awestruck time after time... to say the least. i cannot wait to share them all!

with that said, it is due time for another i want to know YOUR story!!!

i didn't actually get to meet with Dana in person (since she lives in Tennessee) so the images below are not mine -- they are a combination of photos from Dana, as well as some of her wedding photos, of which photo credit goes to Harvard Photography!


without further ado,
please meet Dana.
this is her story.

(photo credit : Harvard Photography)

who are you, where are you from, what excites you, what is your PASSION... what's your story?

My name is Dana,
and I’m “from” Royal Oak, Michigan
although since I left home at 18, I’ve lived in:

Ann Arbor, Mi;
New York City;
Raleigh, NC;
Troy, MI;
Ferndale, Mi;
Pontiac, Mi;
Los Angeles, CA;
Marina Del Rey, CA;
Santa Monica, CA;
Pasadena, CA;
Nashville, TN;
and my final destination (for now) my first HOME I OWN in Franklin, TN!

So I am from A LOT of places.

I am super super passionate about music.
I played violin at age eight and started playing the cello at age nine.
By age 15 I was touring internationally with an orchestra.
I sang in an opera with The Netherlands Opera singers and saw more countries at 15 than most people see in a lifetime.
For years, I was first chair in my orchestra at school. My family wanted me to study music in college, but I wasn’t sure.

I didn’t want to turn my PASSION into a CHORE or WORK.
So I studied Spanish and English in school and played music in my spare time.

However, something strange was always in my mind since my first memories - regardless of any accomplishments,
I always felt I WASN’T GOOD.
It didn’t matter if I was first chair, or how many A’s I got, or auditioned and accepted into an international program, or how many 1st place ribbons I won at competitions -

I NEVER FELT GOOD.

I mean that in more than one way -
I felt that I wasn’t good at cello, I wasn’t good at life, and I just wasn’t good or worthy.
I suffered from self-worth issues before I even knew what that meant.

What I struggled with was major depression & anxiety... and didn’t even realize this until I got to college.
One day during my senior year, I walked into the house where I lived and realized I was completely numb.
It felt like someone else was walking in my place and I was watching from somewhere else.

I remember telling my roommate how numb I felt and she kind of brushed it off in a kind of, “oh well!” kind of way.
I walked back to my room and knew I could not live another day feeling the way I’d felt since I was a kid.

I had spent 10+ years hating myself and wasting precious time,
and I needed help.


I made an appointment with the school mental health clinic, and talked to a super nice social worker
who said it sounded a lot like major depressive disorder and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder).
I was glad to finally have a name to what I was suffering from.
I then saw the school psychiatrist and started on an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.

In the years following, I had major ups and downs due to this “disease” (I know it’s not a disease, but at times it can feel like one as it never ends).
I saw many doctors and had to try different medications to find the ones that worked for me.
Needless to say, it was a LOOOOOOONG (and often emotionally painful) process.

I still struggle with this every day, however, I never stop trying to find solutions.

When very emotionally painful things happen in my life, I find my depression/anxiety very hard to control.
In the fall of 2012, I had a miscarriage as I entered my second trimester. The pain I felt in the aftermath of the miscarriage was so terrible I found myself suicidal... and even cut myself twice in an effort to alleviate the pain (I had never done something like this before).
I immediately called my doctor and got in the next day to see him.

I LOVE my doctor,
and this is very key for people who suffer from depression/anxiety -
FIND A DOCTOR YOU LOVE AND WHO REALLY CARES! They are out there!!!

It was a long three months of getting back to where I felt OK (where I am today), but it’s a daily battle.
I know there are so many people who have it worse, but I’ve learned not to discredit my feelings.

I want other people who suffer from mental illness to not suffer alone or in silence.
THERE IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF
- whether you have depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD, etc., etc., etc. -
THERE IS HELP OUT THERE.

All you have to do is look and I know there are times when you just want to end it and give up but...
YOU CAN GET BETTER!
There are people out there who are passionate about helping people with mental illness - FIND THEM.
Enlist the help of a great friend, family member, anyone who loves you.
DO NOT BE ASHAMED.

I felt ashamed for so long and I regret so many things I’ve done in my life because of my depression & anxiety.
I wish I had gotten help sooner -- but we can’t go back in time.
All we can do is continue to get help, get well, and improve our lives in any (healthy) ways we can.

My passion for music took a backseat to my illness. There was no music for me for a long time.
Some days I struggled to get out of bed, to go to work, to even live. Playing music just seemed like a burden (just like everything else). Plus the feelings of low self-worth due to depression/anxiety didn’t help with any of this.

These days I am much more proactive. When I can tell bad feelings are surfacing - I go immediately to the doctor.
I do not mess around with this illness anymore.
I wasted so much time suffering and not ENJOYING LIFE because of how depressed and anxious I was that...

I forgot to live.

This is not how it HAS to be - I want other people who are suffering to know THERE IS HELP!
Reach out to someone and don't be embarrassed. Get help as soon as you feel any bad feelings arising - forget your ego - check it at the door, and GET HELP.
If anyone makes you feel bad in your suffering, find someone who CARES and UNDERSTANDS and won’t tell you to get over it,
because sometimes (many times) it’s NOT that simple.

Your feelings matter, just as mine did (though I didn’t know it).

These days I am still passionate about music, but now I am also passionate about
my husband, my son, our pups, my family & friends, and a million other things --
but I will always remain PASSIONATE about lifting the stigma surrounding mental illness.

People with mental illness are not weird or scary monsters -
they are people in (mental/emotional) pain & anguish who need help, our understanding and compassion.

If you have a friend you see struggling, help them.
You never know when the smallest act of kindness can save someone.

what are 3 words that describe you & your LIFE?

*humor
*love
*acceptance

what do you love? who do you LOVE?

I love my little family - my husband, our son, our two crazy pups (one only has three legs!).
My best friend and first love is my sister.
I love helping people who are struggling,
I love music,
I love my friends & family,
and I love trying to figure out how to be happy.

I love and appreciate the struggle because it leads to growing as an individual.

I am a firm believer in always learning and growing and trying to become better every day.
Never give up.


last, but not least,
what is your most favorite quote?!


“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” - Confucius


Here are two resources I think are great for people who need help :

the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides access to trained telephone counselors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
for their website,
CLICK HERE!

And the other is :
Mind Over Matter

It's local to where I grew up (started by a girl I went to high school with)
and has some great resources for people who are suffering or have people in their life who are suffering.
for their website,
CLICK HERE!


Dana,,, you seriously ROCK.
thank you so much for sharing YOUR story!

with love & admiration,

ksen


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