When Tawanna Jones first joined the See Jane Write Collective I knew she’d be a stand-out member. She was clear on her writing and blogging goals and she dove into our members-only resource library to learn what she needed to accomplish those goals.

When See Jane Write launched its partnership with Reckon Women, Tawanna was one of the first people to submit an essay to be published on AL.com, an essay that told the story of her struggle with depression and how she has overcome it.

Recently, Tawanna launched a new inspirational website and blog, Rise Up and Soar, and on March 14 she will be speaking at Motherhood: The Remix, a conference to be hosted by board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Leesha Ellis-Cox in Birmingham, Alabama.

I’m proud to present the See Jane Write Member of the Month for March, Tawanna Jones.

What motivated you to start your new site and what can we expect from future blog posts?

After being admitted to a psychiatric ward for clinical depression, I did the work that was necessary to help me transform my mindset, reset my life, and recover from depression.  My motivation for starting Rise Up and Soar is to share what I’ve learned along my mental wellness journey, encourage, and inspire women to become the absolute best version of themselves.  I was suffering in silence and isolated myself from my friends and family because I was ashamed.

In my time of isolation, the darkness of depression slowly overcame my life.  There are women suffering with depression in silence and through Rise Us and Soar, I will sound the alarm and be their biggest cheerleader as they work through overcoming depression while urging women to seek help and talk about how they feel.  I will share what I learned from my psychiatrist and self-discovery to heal.  I suffered through depression for 3 years and, with the help of some amazing people and a determination to recover, I am thriving. I want to be a ray of hope that if I can overcome depression anybody can.

Rise Up and Soar is a mental wellness lifestyle blog for women with a focus on overcoming depression by cultivating positive inner conversations, making peace with your past, staying present in the now, and embracing the future.  

You can expect my future posts to be focused on the following four values:  

  • Personal Growth – a daily commitment to improve and the unwavering determination to strive to make changes to become the absolute best version of yourself
  • Mental Wellness – developing the mental toughness to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress-resilience.
  • Spiritual Connection – dedication to uncover the secrets of God and learn how to apply them to your everyday life
  • Love Your Body – healthy body image; recognizing your individual qualities and strengths that make you feel good about yourself beyond weight, shape, or appearance.

You’ve been very open about your struggle with depression. Why do you think it’s important for more women to be honest about mental health issues? 

It is important for more women to be honest about mental health issues because various factors (trauma, discrimination, hormonal issues, postpartum depression, etc.) put women at greater risk of poor mental health and when more women share their stories the stigma and judgment around mental health fade.

Women crave social acceptance, so through my transparency, I want women to know they are not alone, and it is OK to talk about your mental health and receive help. It is my mission to increase awareness and the understanding of depression and challenge the stigma that stops women from seeking help. Through Rise Up and Soar, I will create a safe haven that provides tools and knowledge to proactively recover from depression.

As I was researching depression, I have learned that African American women are twice as likely to experience an episode of major depression than men and only half will seek help; this is unacceptable. Within the African American community, the stigma and judgment of being considered “crazy” prevents the discussion about mental illness with friends and family. I believe that through my story others will share their experience and we can have open dialogue about mental illness and support each other on our journey to healing. 

My vision for Rise Up and Soar is to erase the stigma and judgment associated with mental illness and women all around the world are supporting each other, speaking up about their mental health; therefore, closing the gap that stops women from seeking help.

You’re speaking at Motherhood: The Remix this year. What will your presentation be about and why should Birmingham moms sign up for this event? 

I am so honored to be a speaker this year for the Motherhood: The Remix conference. I will be talking about being a single mom with depression, sharing more details about my journey to recovery, and how I currently maintain my mental health as a working wife and mom.

Birmingham moms, Motherhood: The Remix is for YOU!! It is a fun, fresh, conference celebrating YOU, both the amazing momma and the incredible woman. Sometimes we forget about the extraordinary woman we are while raising our children, but YOU and I deserve some attention too!  

The focus of the conference is about how “mommying ain’t so pretty.” We struggle to fulfill our children’s needs while neglecting our own. During the conference moms will learn how to make their own mental health and well-being a priority and not pour from an empty cup.  

Join me, Dr. Leesha Ellis-Cox, and other like-minded mommas at Motherhood: The Remix as we adopt a healthy mommy mindset and focus on our mental health and well-being. This event is truly for you, moms! Happy, healthy moms raise happy, healthy kids.

What are your future writing, blogging, and public speaking goals? 

My freelance writing goals are to create a quarterly article with a local Birmingham publication where I interview local women who have overcome the uncertainties of life and share their stories of resilience.

My blogging goal is to share two blog posts a month, provide weekly affirmations, a weekly uplifting song selection review, monthly journal prompts, and lots of sisterly love!

Public speaking is truly my passion and my goal is to participate in 3 women conferences and host 1 in Birmingham.

Why did you join the See Jane Write Collective and what do you like most about being a part of this community?

Joining the See Jane Write Collective was a no-brainer for me. It was an opportunity to join a community of women who enjoy writing and blogging. Initially, I joined the See Jane Write Network to check out the flow and content you were providing, and I was blown away immediately. It is something about being with like-minded people that motivate and encourage you to write. Being in the See Jane Write Collective has given me the confidence to write.

I was told in high school I was a poor writer. When I went college, I worked really hard to perfect my writing and earned A’s in my English Literature and Business Writing classes; however, after college, I still heard the voice of my high school teacher telling me I was a poor writer. It wasn’t until I shared my story on AL.com that I felt like a true writer. 

The best part of being a member of the See Jane Write Collective — we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We encourage, uplift and challenge each other to keep writing and blogging. I am extremely thankful for the See Jane Write community.

Who should be the next See Jane Write Member of the Month? Send your nominations to javacia@seejanewritebham.com and don’t be afraid to nominate yourself! Not a member? Apply to join here.