Danielle "Dani" Figueroa
Mental Health Advocate and Art Therapy Student
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a veteran of both the United States Army Reserve and the United States Marine Corps.
2. How has mental illness affected your life?
Mental illness has affected my life the most by isolation, substance abuse, shame, and the inability to ask for help. Transitioning from my life as a military service member (my life that was part of a whole - essentially a tribe) to my life out of uniform was a huge struggle. Eventually it became apparent that I wasn't alone when I heard other veterans' stories; however, it took a long time for me to connect with others.
3. Why did you want to be a part of the This Is My Brave Women's Mental Health Summit?
I want to be a part of the This Is My Brave Women’s Mental Health Summit, because I believe I’ll be standing side-by-side with women who know firsthand what it’s like to have lived in this truth: Recovery/healing doesn’t start where you "want" to be, but where you are. Participating is such a huge honor for me.
4. What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
I’m inspired to stay mentally healthy, because when I isolate, I miss out on what life has to offer - through experiences and most importantly through people.
5. What do you hope the attendees of the event walk away with?
What I hope the attendees of the event walk away with most is encouragement. Encouragement that living is so much better than just surviving, or as I once heard it said, "We are human beings and not human doings for a reason." It is my hope through listening to “Rewind” (an original song) that there can be more gentleness and forgiveness to the past that we can never change, but rather a perspective shift to the present. We can honor those we’ve lost, hurt, and betrayed by how we live our lives today.