STEPHANIE MITCHELL HUGHES, C'84

STEPHANIE, Describe Your 9-to-5. Or As My Nana Would Would Ask: “How do you put food on the table, baby?: "I am attorney." 

[Editor’s note: As you can see, this Spelman woman is succinct. :) We spoke with Stephanie and learned that she practices Labor and Employment Law for the State of Ohio. Her passion is to help others with mental illness live life fully.]

STEPHANIE's Next Target Conquest: “This Fall (2017) I was awarded a scholarship to attend the Omega Institute’s biennial Women & Power Retreat. Its theme was to Do Power Differently® / #DoPowerDifferently. (Ed.: Omega is a 40-year old mission-driven, donor-supported educational nonprofit, that refers to itself as “a pioneer in holistic studies.”) This was a Bucket List item for me and I loved attending. It was empowering to be in the company of like-minded women from around the world. Many in attendance were dealing with trauma, others were living with grief. What I took from them and am pulling out of myself is the idea of being resilient. I am now more attuned to how I talk and move myself beyond tough experiences. How to trounce the difficulty of transforming trauma and grief into something powerful. I'm working to define the skills to make this transformation real."

This #SpelmanBlackGirlBrilliance Right Here: “I have had professional successes. However, my most important personal accomplishment was making peace with my depression. I have lived with depression since I was at least 15 years old. For many years I was able to manage my depression without medication. Around 1995 I fell into a deep depression that grew and intensified for more than ten years. Death stalked me daily. In 2006, I realized that I was depressed. My depression is severe and I now must take medication to treat it. Following my treatment regime and telling my story are two of the bravest things that I do. My mantra is #NoApology #NoRetreat #NoShame #NoSurrender.”

How Does STEPHANIE 'Play The Game' And Not 'Hate The Playa'?: "I don't do either. Writing and speaking about my depression, life as a solo mom, and resilience are more than a career. This is my calling. If my words or message are not received, I shake the dust off my feet and move on."

Is STEPHANIE A Hustla' Or Enjoying A Guilty Pleasure?: "I write and speak about living with depression, my life as a solo mom, and resilience. My goal is to change the world by telling my story. I am a Contributor to Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Thrive Global, The Lily and Invisible Illness. I also told my story at TEDxColumbus (see video below) and This Is My Brave. I have developed two courses on mental illness entitled Yes Virginia, There Is Mental Illness in the Workplace and Tackling the Pink and Purple Elephant in the Room: Attorneys and Mental Illness. Recently, I was featured as part of the launch of Option B Sheryl Sandberg's latest initiative.

It's The Apocalypse. You Have Access to ONE News Source. While Not Perfect...: “I would use www.VerySmartBrothas.theroot.com. This online publication covers areas that are personally and professionally interesting. I would also write a post for VSB.” 

Is STEPHANIE's 'Go To' Bottomless Brunch or Happy Hour Tapas?: “My 'go to' would be a bottomless brunch at Northstar Restaurant. Breakfast and brunch foods are my favorite. This allows me to fellowship with friends and family.”

Stephanie's TEDxColumbus talk: "Out of the valley" (2015)

"Several quotes help to shape my views. One of the most impactful is: 'the truth is in the quiet'. I believe this was said by Glennon Doyle Melton. There is all of the noise surrounding us and often it clouds our judgment. I try to be conscious of it because I know how it can slant the narrative. For so long I allowed others to write my narrative and let it be the lead story. No more. I understand that I have a responsibility to reclaim any power that I’ve given away. Now? I write the story."

"One of the retreat workshops I attended offered a discussion on ‘how does one transform drama into power’. Loung Ung was one of the speakers/teachers on the panel. Loung shared the story of her parents and two of her siblings being brutally murdered by the Khmer Rouge. (Ed.: Ms. Ung is a bestselling author, activist, and co-writer of the screenplay of the 2017 Netflix original Movie “First They Killed My Father.”) After listening to and interacting with Loung, I was motivated to write a piece about ‘power’. Many times I never felt power as it is traditionally defined. Professionally I have had to work with within the existing constructs and navigate around the predominant male models of power. In managing my mental health, I realize that power was often missing. What I learned from the retreat is the power of resilience."

"The Omega retreat expanded my knowledge base of resilience. Many shared their stories of adversity. This encouraged me to recognize my own power. I've realized that when going through adversity you feel anything BUT powerful. I also recognized that adversity yields power and I am writing a workshop on this topic. Understanding power and its construct is integral to self-care. For me, it is also about taking care of myself and managing my mental illness. Power Is. Central. Years ago I had given away all of my power by accepting less than what I deserved and not being able to ask for what I needed. I alowed access to 'me'. Some took advantage of that access. I see that as an abuse that traumatized me and fed my mental illness. Now, I recognize that I must advocate for myself and that my voice is powerful. Before, people would tell me I had such an impact. I could not recognize that power then but now I do."

"After the retreat I began writing a workshop on the concept of how adversity yields power. One of my goals is to be invited to teach and present this workshop as part of a curriculum offered by the Omega Women’s Leadership Center.

If my words or message are not received, I shake the dust off my feet and move on.

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