How It All Started

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or at least that’s how the saying goes. These days, when a photo can circulate around the world in seconds, it’s probably worth more. Think of the haunting images we’ve seen of destruction, or the snapshots of Olympic Gold Medal glory. A photo transcends language barriers and thanks to the internet, many geographic ones.

This past year, I spent a lot of time thinking about what more I could offer to those battling mental health conditions and chronic illnesses – how I could reach out to more people, make some sort of an impact. What, being a “lay person” with simply my personal experience as my background in the field, could I offer? And how could I offer this? One day, I looked down at a shirt I was wearing that had the word HOPE written across it, and I got my answer. One thing I could offer, I knew, was hope.

I am far from alone in being able to offer this. Each one of us that battles illness but still perseveres, even if from our bed some days, because it’s all we can do, offers hope. Each one of us who can share our story, who says “I’m still here, and I’m going to be here tomorrow” can offer hope. Each one of us that advocates, even in the smallest way, can offer hope. All I have to do is get that message out there. And so I decided to literally “get out there.” By going to as many places in my “HOPE” shirts as possible. By meeting as many people as I can when doing this. By documenting this and sharing these photos with the message of hope as far and wide as I can.

And with any luck (and hard work and perseverance) I can one day use the Spread Hope Project to do more for mental health and chronic illness. I have big ideas, swimming around in this vessel of continual imagination that I call my head. Some which may happen, some of which probably won’t. But you never know, so I keep dreaming. And for me, that offers hope. Hope that, just maybe, I can share with you all one day.

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