When I was first diagnosed with a mental disorder in 1984, the Prozac revolution was still a few years away, and the range of options for a severely depressed 16-year-old living in a small town was limited. During the next 22 years, I received various diagnoses and tried new drugs almost as frequently as many people buy new sneakers. Through it all, consistent and trustworthy information about mental health was so hard to find. And in the end, that’s what filled me with frustration.

In 2006, amidst the most debilitating depression I’d ever experienced, something shifted, and my frustration turned to action. I realized I’d been giving away my power to others. Until then, I dutifully read the pamphlets and fact sheets I was given about my drugs, but I never really took charge of my mental health. This time, though, I was finally fed up enough to do something about it.

Despite the fact that my depression was still so heavy that I didn’t want to leave the house, I began scouring medical libraries and spending hours online. I also made a revolutionary decision for me: I started telling just about everyone I knew about my struggles and triumphs over mental illness. In short, I took my power back, and the freedom was exhilarating.

I realized fear of stigma had led me to keep my struggles with mental health a secret. It also made me merely a compliant patient rather than an active partner in my health care. Stigma also kept me from asking for the kind of support I needed to live—and live well—with a serious mental illness. Since being open about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I have been able to find the kind of support that has helped keep serious symptoms at bay for years.

My journey was part of the inspiration for Sane, Smart + Strong’s new magazine on a mission…to help people living with mental illness take charge of their mental health and live happier, richer and more stable lives.

The articles in this issue offer practical advice for better living and investigate the frontiers of mental health research. Our two feature stories document the inspiring tales of two mental health heroes: Terrie Williams and Stephen Puibello. Sane is the kind of magazine I wish I’d found in the waiting room of the very first therapist I saw nearly 30 years ago.

Now Sane is in your hands. We hope you find it inspirational and helpful and that you’ll pass it on. And be sure to visit us at sanemag.com for even more content and to connect to others who are overcoming mental health issues.