If you’ve ever struggled with mental health, you know how heavy the stigma is and how hard it is to break. Two old friends of mine, Michal and Amanda, have set out to do just that. They have created an organization called Worth More than Many Sparrows which is fighting to dismantle the stigmas surrounding mental illness all while telling people like you that they are worthy.
I am happy to say that I am now a part of the wonderful organization they have created, and have been given the opportunity to interview the co-founders. Their project means a lot to me, as a sufferer of mental illness and I hope you will find some good in it, too.
Check it out once you’re done reading. Enjoy!
What is WMTMS and its purpose?
Our purpose is to create and foster a community that strives to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. We want to have a community where people feel safe and unashamed to share their stories. It’s so important for people to understand that a mental illness does not define them.
How did you come up with the idea and start it?
I (Amanda) decided to tell Michal that we had the same scars and it went from there! After realizing we both struggled with similar issues, we thought it’d be cool if we could reach out to other people who might feel alone.
Who do you hope to reach?
We hope to reach people who have a mental illness, or know someone who does-or really anyone who recognizes that mental illness is just as “normal” as a physical illness.
We we also want to develop a community that uplifts each other, promotes kindness, and truly spreads love rather than hate-that goes beyond our specific focus, but I think it’s relevant in today’s world.
What does WMTMS mean to you, personally?
Michal: This project, as a whole, is bigger than myself. As a child I experienced constant spiritual warfare; Satan wanted to see me dead. It didn’t seem right for a four-year old to talk about suicide, but I did, and I spoke of it often. Once I reached an age where I understood what spiritual warfare meant, I started searching for reasons as to why Satan began attacking me when I was just a child.
WMTMS is one of the reasons, I believe, and here’s why: we’re building a community of people who want to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. The stigma is what forces us into silence, and silence is how Satan captures our hearts, and ultimately captures our lives. Anorexia, anxiety, depression, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, and suicidal ideation are just some of the things I’ve battled during my life thus far, and for so many years I felt alone in them. But I’m not.
We’re all broken people, but WMTMS is here to remind everyone that although we’re broken, we aren’t alone. We’re loved, worthy, and deeply needed here.
Amanda: Worth More Than Many Sparrows is a constant reminder to me that no matter what I do, where I go, or how badly I screw things up that I am worthy of love, friendship, forgiveness, and salvation. I have Matthew 10:29-31 written on post-it notes all over my desk at work, on posters at home, on notes on my phone-anywhere that I think I might need a gentle reminder.
When you’re prone to anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts, you need to constantly remind yourself that you are worthy of more than that. WMTMS gives me that reminder.
Where do you hope WMTMS will be in 5 years?
Michal: Our team has consisted of only two people until recently, as we have just added a third. What I’ve learned is that in order to be successful, you have to put a lot, and I mean a lot, of care and thought into your project, whatever it is. My hope is that our team continues to grow and flourish.
My philosophy is this: Nobody knows everything, but everyone knows something. I’ve had to humble myself in this endeavor, as I don’t possess all the talents I wish I did. As people, though, we are created to complement each other. We need each other, and our project is a testimony to that. I’m a writer but my artistic skills are lacking. That’s where I invite others to use their talents.
As our team continues to grow, my hope is that WMTMS will become a lifestyle brand. I want people to be able to take us wherever they go, as a reminder that everyone is worthy.
Amanda: In five years, I hope that WMTMS will be a community of like-minded people who can be honest and open with each other about their mental health. I don’t know how big of a community that we will be, but I do know that even if we never become insta-famous or huge in the blogging community, it doesn’t matter because at least we are reaching someone.
I also hope to provide tangible reminders to our community that they are loved through posters, t-shirts etc and hopefully using some profits to donate to various mental health organizations around the world.
How do you want people to use/see this project/site?
Michal: Social media is a great tool for people to use to seek out support and practice sharing their story. We’ve worked so hard to create a safe space for people to share their hurts and struggles. Our promise is that anyone who reaches out to us will always be met with grace and understanding. I’d love for more people to share with us their personal stories or struggles with a mental illness, poems, or any type of creative writing or art. Writing is therapeutic and allows us to process what’s happened in our lives.
Amanda: I want WMTMS to be an interactive experience. When we ask people questions on our blog or social media accounts, we really want them to answer. The only way to end the stigma on mental illness is to make it become a part of normal conversation. I also want people to be able to use us as a sounding board if they feel they have no one else to talk to-we’re here for them!
Why are you, personally, invested in the topic of mental illness?
Michal: I’ve suffered from various mental illnesses throughout my entire life and up until Amanda shared with me that we bare the same scars from self-harm, I had felt that I was the only one who experienced heavy depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, etc.
Suicide is a topic rarely spoken about, but the only way we can prevent this from happening is by fostering and engaging in healthy conversations. We can’t remain in silence.
Amanda: I grew up with a very close family member who suffers from Bipolar disorder (along with several other illnesses) and it was really tough on me (obviously it was even tougher on that person). For the longest time I struggled with understanding them, and I hated them because they couldn’t just be “normal.”
After dealing with my own depression and subsequent self-harm, I realized that I couldn’t just be “normal” either because I had a mental illness. No one had ever spoken to me about mental illness and no one ever encouraged me to learn more about it. It was always a very “hush-hush” topic, almost taboo, and it honestly left my relationship with that family member damaged because I was under the impression that they were just plain crazy.
If someone had just told me that a mental illness is just like cancer, or diabetes or any other physical illness maybe my story would have been different. I want others’ stories to be different.
Why do you think it’s so important that we share our stories and struggles?
Michal: Everyone has a unique story, comprised of sorrow and happiness and defeats and triumphs. It’s easy to slip into the belief that our struggles and illnesses define us, but we shut that idea down when we speak about what we’ve gone through. Every time we speak out about our struggles, we gain a little bit more power over them. When we voice our stories we make it OK for others to do the same. It’s therapeutic for ourselves and sparks possibilities in the lives of others.
Amanda: I think it’s important to let others know that they aren’t alone. I remember feeling isolated from those around me because I didn’t think that anyone suffered the way I did or the way my relative did. It was the worst feeling in the world.
If we are willing to share our stories and struggles with each other, we are willing to open up our arms to each other and leave behind that feeling of isolation. People are important; we need each other. We weren’t put on this earth to suffer alone, to suffer in silence; that isn’t what God intended for any of us.