Sarah Fader grew up in the 90s when mental illness was heavily stigmatized. At 15, she began having panic attacks. She remembers that the Books of Magic comic book series gave her a fear of death. She wrote it off by saying it was existential dread. At her performing arts high school in New York, she felt different from everybody else, and hid her secret well. Her mom finally sent her to a therapist.
“I told the therapist I wish there was a magic pill to make everything go away,” Fader said. The therapist told her that it doesn’t work like that.
In her senior year of high school, she found herself throwing up each morning due to anxiety.
“My mom introduced me to mindfulness meditation with John Cabot-Zinn. I was able to be calm and eat afterward,” she said.
At 18, her mom let her see a psychiatrist and she started Prozac with a diagnosis of anxiety and depression.
“I remember walking down the street and my mind would be clear,” she said.
When Fader transfered to NYU, she received a refund check for her student loan for $4,000 which she spent in three days. When she told her psychiatrist of her dissociative spending, he put her on Zyprexa with the Prozac. She eventually saw a new psychiatrist who gave her Seroquel.
At 24, she had focussing problems and test anxiety. She was diagnosed with ADHD. Fourteen years later, she tried medication for this but this was after jobs would fire her for her lack of a concept of time.
After she met her then husband, she went off meds for ten years and had her son.
“It was hard but I used Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to get by,” she said.
While she was nursing her son, her depression came back and she went back on them. She had a daughter by this time and she had a post-partum psychosis. She didn’t sleep and hallucinated that she saw a floating face. After a few rounds with condescending doctors, she was given medication for her symptoms.
She had been blogging for ten years by this time. She had come out about her panic disorder on the Huffington Post.
“I saw all the other mental health blogs and it was safe for me,” she said. “I don’t want to live with the shame and I want my children to live unashamed.”
“The first time I wrote on a blog I have panic disorder, it was freeing,” she said.
She looked around the internet and their was no place for people to share stories of mental illness back then so she decided to start one. Stigma Fighters was born. She found a friend and business partner Ali Burke, who has schizophrenia, to make the site a non-profit. Since then, they published three anthologies for it.
“I don’t care if people remember me as long as they remember Stigma Fighters,” Fader said.
She realized that her mental illness isn’t her identity, her doctor changed her diagnosis to bipolar 2, ADHD, OCD, and anxiety.
“Your diagnosis doesn’t matter. What matters is the treatment plan,” she said.
Fader also podcasts the show This is What Anxiety Feels Like on her site www.sarahfader.com. She coined the hashtag #thisiswhatanxietyfeelslike which has been mentioned in the New York Times.
After losing a child, she founded the Eliezer Tristan Publishing Company. She wanted people to share their stories of resilence. In addition to looking for completed manuscripts and book proposals, she does book coaching. Topics they look for are Near Death Experiences, mental health, anthologies, and poetry.
Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Eliezer Tristan Publishing Company, where she is dedicated to sharing the words of authors who endure and survive trauma and mental illness. She is also the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.
Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with Bipolar type II, OCD, ADHD, and PTSD. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time. Her personal web site is www.sarahfader.com.