Karena’s Message For Mental Health Awareness MonthBy Karena Dawn on
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to check in with you and talk about something very close to my heart.
It has been my life’s mission to end the stigma around mental illness and inspire more open, honest, and vulnerable conversations about mental health. So many people suffer and struggle in silence, and are afraid to talk about this. The silence can feel even more isolating...but I want you to know you’re not alone.
One in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year — that’s 51.5 million people, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). And at least 8.4 million people in the U.S. provide care to an adult with a mental or emotional health issue.
If you’ve experienced a mental health condition, struggled with situational depression or anxiety (this past year has been a trigger for many), or you’ve been impacted by mental illness through a friend or family member, remember you are not alone in this. Let’s talk! We break the stigma one conversation at a time, by sharing our own unique stories.
My journey with mental health began when I was just a child. When I was 13 years old, my mom was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and in the years after, she was in and out of our home. The stigma around mental illness made me hide my emotions, and I experienced deep loneliness, depression, and childhood trauma. This manifested in a suicide attempt when I was 13 and then nearly 10 years of unhealthy habits and drug use to numb my pain.
When I was 22 years old, I hit a breaking point and realized that something had to change. I had to choose to live — so I made that choice. I rediscovered my love for fitness, I committed myself to mindfulness, and I slowly healed through therapy, yoga, and meditation. This journey is ongoing, and I take steps every day to care for my mental wellness.
If you want to hear more of my personal story, you can watch me share it at the PoWer Up Women’s conference HERE.
I’ll be sharing much more in my upcoming memoir, and I can’t wait for you to read it. I used to be afraid to talk about this part of my life, but sharing vulnerably has been so healing for me and has helped me feel empowered, stand in my worth, and take ownership of my story — with all its imperfections.
Through everything I’ve been through, I’ve learned that imperfection is PERFECT. Our pain has a PURPOSE — it helps us evolve into who we are supposed to be, the most authentic versions of ourselves. Just like a tree, you are allowed to have seasons. You are worthy of profound happiness, love, and peace. And it’s OK to not be OK. Sometimes asking for help is the bravest and most important thing we can do.
So I encourage you to check in with your friends, family, and even those you may not know well. Our world is heavy right now, so we must come together as a community. And please share this with someone who may need to hear it.
I’m always here for open conversation. You can find me on IG @karenadawn ~ feel free to reach out and share your story. And tell us how we as a collective #TIUteam can do better in supporting your mental wellness. We’re always here to listen.
Crisis Text Line:
Text ‘NAMI’ to 7417
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: