Words cannot describe the emotions I felt when Carrie finally accepted the nomination to be an Everyday Beauty Participant! I was thrilled, nervous, anxious, honored.... Carrie has been my friend for literally as long as I can remember... She is in all of my childhood birthday party photos, I remember her as a little girl with a pony tail and braid, we played a lot when we were elementary age. As we went into High School we grew apart as I was a dancer and she was amazing at sports. Carrie has always been in my thoughts though as many of my classmates are. She has always been so sweet and always positive! I have never heard Carrie say a bad word about anyone! As Jenny, her friend that nominated her said, "Carrie is so kind and she always says that she hopes that when people think of her they think of kindness and integrity. She truly lives that way each day."

Carrie and I reconnected a few years ago after I had ran into her at the store. I tend to absorb the energy of everyone I meet. She stayed on my mind heavily for about 2 weeks, I really didn't know why... so I finally reached out to her and was astonished at what she had to say. She was struggling with severe depression. "What? Happy, positive, always smiling Carrie??" I thought, "How is this possible! How have so many people not known this?"

When Carrie said she would participate, I really was not sure how much or what she would be willing to share, simply because I know that depression and mental illness is such a hard thing to talk be open about. She brought me her story typed up and it was perfection! Everything I had hoped she would say. So I'm just going to share the whole thing:

"Three years ago, I was the most unhappy, miserable person you would ever meet. I was truly unhealthy, both emotionally and physically. I was morbidly obese and extremely depressed. Anxiety had taken over my life and it kept me from participating in the things I used to love. Between the inner struggles and strife within my heart and mind combined with extremely low self-esteem and feeling trapped in my battle with obesity, I saw no way out. There was no light at the end of a miserably endless tunnel. I needed some kind of relief and suicidal ideation set in with a vengeance. Darkness became a constant and I could not, as hard as I tried, climb out of the pit I had been pulled into.

After several failed plans and attempts to find peace and end my life, and from the constant encouragement and unconditional love of my family and friends, I sought and received professional assistance. As the result of this humbling intervention, I began the daunting task of, hand-over-hand, pulling myself up and out of the black hole I had been sucked into. I was now no longer able to defer to others. I had to look myself square in the face, strip back the protective layers I had placed over my heart, and delve into the scariest place of all, my mind. As scary as this was, improvement did come. For the first time in my life, I accepted that I was not a mistake and that I had a purpose. I learned the importance of human connection and just how much making healthy connections with others can improve my own quality of life. I slowly started to recognize the positive things in my life. Almost like someone had switched on a light in the darkness and my eyes were slowly starting to adjust. I could gradually recognize the positives that had been there all along. Good people and blessings had always been present, but were secretly hidden from me in the copious amounts of fog initiated by mental illness."

"I have to believe that there is