Adversity: Was debilitated by anxiety, panic and depression
Advocacy: Started a non-profit to give hope to others with mental illness
“What I used to see as a curse I now see as a blessing, because each time I journey through the darkness I gain greater insight into this human experience. I’m also that much more determined to not only remain well, but to help others get well and stay well.”
Gayathri Ramprasad and her loving family in Banglore, India, saw America as Nirvana, a land of opportunities where they hoped Gayathri would one day settle down and start a family. Instead, at 18 she became debilitated by anxiety and depression. Five years later, she found herself locked up in the isolation cell of a psych ward in the U.S. “Stripped of freedom, dignity, hope and humanity, I promised to emerge a messenger of hope and healing,” she says. “I promised to fight to restore my dignity and the dignity of others like me around the world.” Although her stay at the hospital was traumatic at times, she found it ultimately life transforming. For the first time she met people at the hospital who helped her realize she was not alone, and empowered her on her road to recovery.
Along with a group of mental health advocates, Gayathri founded ASHA International in 2006, a Portland-based non-profit that has touched the lives of more than 25,000 people worldwide with a resounding message of hope and healing. In addition to promoting mental health awareness, hope and holistic wellness through their Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives campaign, the nonprofit also aims to eliminate the stigma attached to people who suffer from schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses. In her personal life, she has adopted alternative healing techniques she learned in recovery like transcendental meditation and yoga, practices she weaves into ASHA International’s wellness programs. She also spends her time communicating with others about wellness through her ASHA blog.