Mandy Lynn Graham
Lover of Education. Lover of Technology. Lover of Art.
My name is Amanda "Mandy" Graham and I have created this website with the purpose to help students who struggle with mental illness, as I do. It was 13 years ago that I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and almost 4 years ago became completely agoraphobic. I know that my website is unconventional but it was meant to be. If you suffer from mental illness, the world looks different, you experience things differently than others, and you feel as if you are "crazy." It is difficult to accomplish your goals when you are in the midst of a never ending battle with your mind. When I was 27 years old, I applied to Western Michigan University's Early Childhood Education Program and I had also applied for many scholarships. I received a letter in the mail, a few months later, stating that I was being offered a full-ride scholarship for the program. Unfortunately, I was not able to leave my home, due to my illness, and could not attend the on campus classes that I would have needed to attend. While I could have taken my inability to accept a full-ride scholarship as a sign that I was not meant to be an educator, I decided to turn this experience into an opportunity. An opportunity that would allow me to pursue my passion for helping others, like me. This passion for helping others had presented itself in different forms throughout my life and this time it had presented itself in a way that I could not turn my back on. There is a stigma attached to mental illness that is so ugly and can lead many people to feel they will never amount to anything, I could not allow myself to sit idly by and let this continue. So I began to share my story with others and they began to share their stories with me with me. I have met a vast variety of people on my journey, a 15 year old girl who was afraid to go to school because of her anxiety, an 11 year old boy who could not leave his house because he suffered from anxiety and depression so severe that he would have panic attacks if he walked outside his front door, and a mother who fought a battle with agoraphobia and conquered it. Every time I opened up to someone about my illness, it seemed as if 5 more people were contacting me to share their own war stories. Yes this is a war we are fighting, one of the mind. I created this website to let people with mental illness, students and non-students alike, that we are not alone, we will get through this and we will find a way to live, happily again.
Before you take a tour through my site, please take a moment to watch this video: "Mental Disorders as Brain Disorders: Thomas Insel at TEDxCaltech."