Catherine Cottam is a 27-year-old first time author with her B.S. in Psychology and her M.A.Ed. in School Counseling. She spent the first 8 years of her life just outside of Dallas, TX before moving with her parents and older brother to beautiful Asheville, NC. Catherine’s struggle with mental health started at the age of 13 with depression and anxiety that were a constant in her life despite several attempts at different medications. In high school, she began suffering from panic attacks and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Travel is a huge part of who she is and she has fed her soul by traveling to Italy, England, Kenya, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and South Africa with layovers in the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. She spent two weeks in an orphanage in Kenya and had tea at the Ritz in London. Her experiences vary wildly.
Two weeks after completing her graduate course work, she left to serve in the United States Peace Corps in South Africa establishing a school library and teaching English as a second language to fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. Five months into her service, she became very depressed and it was necessary to change her medication. The medication change initially resulted in her becoming agitated and irritable before she became fully manic and was no longer sleeping but dancing and singing around the room of her bed and breakfast instead. She was flown home two days later and medically separated from the Peace Corps.
Catherine currently lives in Asheville, NC with her parents and her service dog, River the almost 3 year old Airedale Terrier. Catherine is making travel plans for next year, working on her wellness, and recently finished participating in an intensive outpatient program following a bout of mania that landed her on a locked psych ward for a week. While she was in the IOP she started journaling and that journal will make up part of the book that she is currently working on writing. You can reach Catherine at CatherineCottamWrites@gmail.com or on twitter @CatherineCottam or Instagram @CatherineCottam. You can also follow River, the Service Dog, on Instagram @RivertheWonderdale.
Joanne is a 28-year-old year old wife and mother with her A.S.S. in fire prevention. She was born and raised in an area outside of Philadelphia until she moved to North Carolina in late 2000 with her parents and two siblings. Joanne’s mental health struggle began in early 2006 as the result of an unhealthy relationship and a battle with panic attacks, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and anxiety. Following the birth of her son she faced a short bout of post-partum depression.
Joanne has been a member of the emergency services since August 2006 when she began her journey as a volunteer firefighter. She has been practicing yoga, meditation, and mindfulness as an approach to her mental wellness since January 2014 and uses her social media outlets to promote a body positive platform.
Joanne currently lives in Asheville, NC with her husband and almost 5-year-old son. Joanne is currently working towards completing her B.S. in fire safety engineering as a distance education student while she continues her journey as a social media influencer and hopeful first time author. You can reach Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @joe_lizzzzzz or on Instagram at @joe_lizzzzzz_yoga
Catherine and Joanne
Catherine and Joanne became friends in sixth grade when Joanne and her family moved from Pennsylvania to the Asheville area and Joanne enrolled at Catherine’s middle school. They were close friends through middle school and remained friendly during high school, but were no longer close. They mostly lost touch for the next several years, only talking once or twice during their college years. When Catherine was in graduate school and Joanne was very busy raising her young son, Catherine reached out to Joanne via Facebook and the two reconnected to find that they had much more in common than they ever anticipated. Their friendship has been very close ever since with the two of them supporting each other every step of the way. It seems natural that the next step they take should be facing the world as a united front against mental health stigma since they spend so much time talking together about their own mental health struggles.