Jen Gotch wants to make you feel better

through optimism, self-care, and understanding mental health

in an effort to further open up important conversations around mental health conditions, jen humbly asked her loyal and open following on instagram to allow her to start sharing their stories with the broader ban.do audience. the request was met with hundreds of heartfelt letters about suffering and strength, tragedy and resilience, coping, pain, happiness, and optimism, and we are so excited to start sharing them with you here. we hope they help you feel less alone.

Hey Jen,

I’ve sat here with this message open for a solid hour, nervous and anxious to write you. That alone is what I started to notice as what I call my RED F***ING FLAGS, for my anxiety. I’m 30 years old and have never once thought that I might have mental health issues, because I mean c’mon everyone has anxiety right?!

Hey Jen!

First of all, I want to say that you are truly one of the bravest, most genuine people I follow on social media and I can’t tell you enough how much your candid honesty has inspired me. Your emotional numbering scale has been a revelation, and it’s something I’ve been debating trying for myself.

Hi Jen!

I’m 22 years old and have been figuring out what works for me as far as handling my anxiety and depression since I was 17. While I have my coping mechanisms down and know my symptoms and how to handle them well, your movement to open up conversations about mental health has affected me in a way I didn’t expect.

Hey Jen Hey Jen,

I felt the need to say that twice. Whatevs. Let me start out by saying thank you, for being you and guiding so many of us in the right direction. Your openness is f***ing inspiring to say the least. You’re my spirit animal.

Hey Jen,

What you are doing is great. I have a couple of things to add to the discussion.

I have 4 kids, ages 16 down to 5. Two of my kids deal with pretty serious anxiety. It has been a journey to get them on the right combination of meds and counseling to help them be stable and just able to handle school and friends and all the things.

Hi Jen,

Coming to you live from the Midwest, I wanted to talk about my parents. Growing up, my father had severe depression with touches of mania and bipolar disorder. There would be days/weeks where he couldn’t get out of bed. We could not afford him not to work so he would work and directly get back into bed. For a long time I did not understand what was going on.

Hey Jen,

First off....warm hugs to you. Thanks for being real and vulnerable and honest with your stories. You are one brave broad.

I have gone through phases in my life where I have panic attacks, and overwhelming anxiety. I have taken meds off and on, and have seen a therapist....but neither regularly.

Hi, Jen.

I’ve never done anything like this, but it was my birthday last week and I promised myself that I’d start listening to my soulful nudges and following them when I can.

Hi Jen,

Depression and anxiety are realities in my daily life. Over the past 12 months, I worked with a psychiatrist to find medications to provide some relief. In the end, I didn't find anything that worked for me and I was given a diagnosis of: Dysthymia (persistent mild depression).

Hi Jen,

First of all, before I get into my views on mental health, I would like to thank you for being so open about your journey. It has infinitely helped me with mine. And on those days when I feel no one gets it, I see your Instagram posts/stories and it gives me relief knowing someone else feels how I feel.

HELLO JEN!

Sending you lots of love and ancient stone magical powers from Stonehenge in England! (I don't really have magical powers but I would send them to you if I could.)

Hi all!

I am an 18 year old female with Bipolar disorder, binge eating disorder, and generalized anxiety as diagnosed by a psychiatrist and counselor. I remember it all starting at around 10 or 11 years old. Even at that young of an age, I always felt isolated from the people around me.

Hi Jen,

I grew up in a mentally and physically abusive home. I didn't know until late in my 20s that my "nervousness" and "moodiness" was actually anxiety and depression related to post traumatic stress disorder. Flash forward seven years of medications, therapy and eye movement rapid desensitization therapy and I’m finally happily coexisting with my mental illness.

Hi Jen,

I have struggled with OCD and anxiety from before I can even remember. Although I always had friends, no one could ever understand why I would bail on plans constantly and was almost never seen when I did not have to be. I had such severe social anxiety that if I did have to go out, I would spend the whole day before panicking and completely unable to sleep.

Hi Jen!

Wow, where do I start! I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Nashville reflecting on this past year that included challenges I could have never predicted. Last February at 26 years old, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It's funny because when thinking back and still what I deal with now it's all the mental s***.

hey jen,

i'd first like to start with a simple “thank you.” because of people like you who are not afraid to bring light to dark topics, people like me feel less alone.

hey, hey, hey!

In high school I remember feeling like there was no way anybody else felt the way I did. I felt the way everyone did before a test or before their first date, but I felt like that all the time. Just existing sent me into a spiral of anxiety, because the world felt so overwhelming.

Hey Jen,

First off, I think the conversations around mental health that you are starting, fostering and nurturing are incredible. I just wanted to bring one topic up that’s not addressed and maybe for the reason that you haven’t personally experienced it.

Hi Jen,

My story starts when I was 2 years old and I was put into foster care when my mother was diagnosed as manic depressive in 1979. She was medicated till I was about 10. This is when she married my step dad. This is about the time when the adventures in the car at 2am would happen, and then the weeks to follow where she would sleep all day.

hey girl, hey!

I never know how to start off a letter to someone who has inspired me ever since I found your Instagram through ban.do. It's a little intimidating if I'm honest. I do experience levels of social anxiety and as a preface...I am wondering how I'm going to f*** this all up and make it either sound pathetic or annoying (neither of which I intend of course...).

Hey Jen,

Want to say...THANK YOU SO MUCH! I personally do not suffer from either anxiety or depression, but my beloved husband does. We married nearly 2 years ago, and soon after our nuptials my husband had his second great depression, which was my first time coming into contact with the worst of the worst that depression has to offer.
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