Nikki Symanovich

When I lost my cousin to suicide in 2010, my whole world as I knew it came crumbling down. I was only 16, and I couldn’t understand how someone so loving, joyful, and seemingly carefree could find themselves in such a place of darkness that they would end their own life. This experience catapulted me into a deep state of confusion and grief; I would spend years trying to come to terms with this loss.
Following my cousin’s death and the loss of two other friends to suicide, I struggled with depression and anxiety throughout high school and well into college. As the years went on, I increasingly struggled with self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, including alcohol abuse, suicidal ideation, and self-harm.
The worst part of my depression was completely losing my sense of self. It took until my senior year of college to surrender to recovery, and it wasn’t until I found yoga two years ago, that I began to heal and feel at home within my body again. I so am proud of how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned about myself, and how much purpose this journey has brought into my life.
In 2017, I began a small mental health nonprofit organization, Narratives of Hope, with a close friend of mine as a way to share the stories of the many people who have struggled with mental illness or suicide loss. I shared my own story for the first time, finally owning what I had been through and hoping to inspire others to share their stories. Narratives of Hope has shown me the true power of vulnerability, and is dedicated to humanizing and destigmatizing issues of mental health and providing a powerful space for sharing, listening, and healing.
It is still a process, but I am forever grateful that my darkest moments have inspired so much purpose and light, and have allowed me to connect with so many other beautiful people who refuse to be silent about their struggles any longer.