Personal Stories

Mental health challenges are common, but fortunately, so is recovery. Connecting with the right people, finding inner strength and tapping into local programs can make an impact. Research also shows that when everyday people in your community open up about their mental health challenges and their recovery, attitudes change and stigma is reduced. Watch these personal stories of real Riverside residents, get inspired and share them with others. Talking openly about mental illness isn’t always easy, but it can make all the difference.

  • Anthony’s Story

    “There is no shame in asking for help. There will be someone there to pick you up and walk with you until you can walk by yourself and find your own voice. ”

  • Ashley’s Story

    "Now that I am a woman in recovery six years clean, I don’t stand down - I trust my instincts.”

  • Brandi’s Story

    "The pain began to motivate me to succeed and take care of the symptoms of my mental health diagnosis and to stay clean a day at a time.”

  • Chris’ Story

    "For me the fear was grounded in stigma. Stigma was at the root of acting out, it was easier if someone feared me than have them think of me as a depressed, suicidal and scared kid."

  • Christine’s Story

    “By the age of 3 Anthony had been in 10 pre-schools. He received his first diagnosis—I didn’t want to believe it. Now I’m a parent partner and work with other parents to help them navigate the system and not feel isolated or alone.”

  • Christopher’s Story: Our Journey to a New World

    "We dealt with normal challenges of parenting; crying, whining, throwing things. But, gradually the tantrums got worse and my son was changing.”

  • Debbie’s Story: The Box

    "As recovery became my reality, helping others became my purpose. Giving back has given me permission to feel good about myself …It has given me hope for a better tomorrow."

  • Doug’s Story

    "If there is one thing I would like to say to a veteran out there, to one of my battle buddies, it’s that it takes courage to ask for help and it is ok to ask for help."

  • Javier’s Story

    “Upon meeting me, you probably wouldn't assume that I had challenges with emotional eating. In all honesty there was a time I weighed 298 pounds. Even many years later when I was a healthy 5’1, 160 pounds, the underlying reasons for my eating disorder had never been dealt with.”

  • Joshua’s Story

    "By getting into recovery and living it every day I was able to achieve all the things people told me I would never have, and today I believe anyone can do anything."

  • Lydia’s Story: Heart Wail Song

    "Without warning or history I began to hallucinate and hear voices…. Dance, friends, medications, therapists and compassionate agencies assisted me in creating a new beginning."

  • Mario’s Story

    "My eyes and mind were opened when I learned “once an addict always an addict” was a lie. I was empowered to believe in myself and that the responsibility for my recovery was mine."

  • Michael’s Story: Chasing Rainbows

    “My coming out as a gay man was met with acceptance and unconditional love from most of my family, but mental illness was not something we talked about.”

  • Nancy’s Story

    “I knew I needed help, but that felt like falling back. And I didn’t want to take medications.”

  • Paula’s Story

    “As a Latina born into this kind of culture, mental health just wasn’t something we talked about. The overwhelming fear of not being able to talk about what was going on made it a dark place to be day after day.”

  • Pedro and Jose’s Story: Recovery Begins with Love

    "In the center of my journey with mental illness was my family’s love and their faith. They never stopped believing I could get better."

  • Rachel’s Story

    "I thought Marcellino’s high levels of energy was typical for a boy. I never would imagine they would diagnose him with ADHD. I felt lost and alone. After I found support, I felt like the sea was calm. Now we are ready for the next phase in my son’s life.”

  • Ricki’s Story

    "Looking back at that day when I saw the nurse it was almost as if someone’s imagination was on top of mine. My family and I have learned to cope with my outbursts. My outlets now include reading, sculptures, writing, music, art and always staying positive.”

  • Sandy’s Story: Eyes Lost in a Dream

    “I always wanted to be the best, the first and now I know I am the best… the best at knowing myself.”

  • Viki’s Story

    "My life was pre planned and laid out for me. I got married, had a son and a white picket fence. Becoming an alcoholic was not part of the plan...The best thing that ever happened to me was being diagnosed with and treated for depression and anxiety."