Paul Falcone: Founder, Executive Director


I’m Paul Falcone, a guy in his mid twenties from central Massachusetts. I’ve been fighting depression, anxiety, and insomnia since I was 13 years old. It’s not easy, nor has it ever been. But I’ve become stronger over the years and every day like to think that I grow closer to accepting who I am with my condition. This site began as a class project in early 2015, but quickly gained momentum and a following that blossomed into a community of people wanting to share and educate anyone willing to listen about mental health conditions. My mission has become to create a community where people can share stories of hope or pain, triumph or failure, fiction or reality, or anything that relates to mental health or personal struggles. Because the biggest thing to remember is that you are not alone.

And you are loved.

Apart from running this organization I’m a musician, writer, and photographer. Occasionally I’ll post some of my work on here, and you can find the two albums I’ve recorded here and here. Almost all my work is directly related to my depression in some way. Although there are other happier topics I do come across every once in awhile.

Think I’m interesting? Follow me on twitter: @PaulFalcone_

Want the long version of my story? Read my entry in the Coping series. 

Want to see my photo project depicting the internal struggle of mental health conditions externally? Check out the “Consumed: Mental Illness Through Photography” series.

Sandra Mercer: Editor-in-Chief


My name is Sandra and I am the newest member of the Dear Hope team! I graciously stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief in June of 2017, and hope to grow with my team members and the beautiful community they’ve built as we look toward the future.

I’m currently a senior at Westfield State University studying Elementary Education and English, where I am involved in student government, a cappella, the newspaper, and my class council. This fall, I start my full-year student teaching placement where I will be working with 4th grade students in Holyoke! When I’m not editing, watching someone else’s kids, writing lesson plans, or sleeping, I’m probably doing one of the following: bingeing something on Netflix, reading anything in the YA Fiction genre, writing about my own life or lives I’ve made up in my brain, laughing at stupid things with my friends, or scrolling endlessly through the many mind-numbing social media accounts I have. I also have a cat named Chandler Bing (we all know he’s the best character on Friends).

I discovered Dear Hope when I was a sophomore in college, and fell in love with the honesty in people’s stories and the hope that they provided. As someone who had previously struggled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and poor self-image in secret, seeing other people bravely share thoughts I related to and similar experiences I had gone through made me feel significantly less alone. As an editor for my school’s newspaper, The Westfield Voice, I first did a feature on the Dear Hope team members and the site itself. A few short weeks later, I found the courage to write my own Coping: This Is Who We Are Piece and submit it for publication. I was overwhelmed with Facebook messages, comments, and texts from people I knew, people I didn’t know, people I hadn’t talked to since I was small, and people I never thought I’d talk to again; they all gave me the love and support I’d been craving, and the hope and comfort I’d never knew I could ask for.

Joining the Dear Hope team is one of the best decisions I have made in my 21 years. I believe, whole-heartedly, that the community that has been built through this site is something that all of us–neurodivergent or not–can find solace and comfort in. My hope is that we give you hope.

You can read my Coping piece here: Defining Normal: Finding Myself Through Depression and Hospitalizations

You can read my latest submission, a poem, here: Questions as Daggers, Questions as Saviors

Love always, 


Amanda Canale: Social Media Manager

AmandaI’m Amanda, a 22-year old senior in college studying Communication and Women’s Studies who has been struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt for as long as I can remember.

In high school I struggled with suicidal thoughts, and over the years have taken drastic measures in order to try to lose weight. For a large part of my life, I have felt that I was unworthy; of love, acceptance from others, self-acceptance, success, and other things. It wasn’t until college where I discovered that there are others like me – people who find it hard to get out of bed in the morning, who find it hard to be happy, and who are also fighting inner demons. I learned that I was not alone.

Through research and connecting with people who not only understood my struggles, but supported, loved, and accepted me as well, I’ve been on the path to loving myself.  I have had my trying moments and rough patches, but I am proud to say that I am nowhere near where I used to be.

I cannot thank my support system enough for constantly pointing me (and occasionally, dragging) me in the right direction, and always reminding me that I am loved and worthy. I still have my moments, but I know that they will not last. I know my worth. I know that I have a place on this earth and that I deserve to stay. And I know you do, too.

Follow me on Twitter @mandaax125


Danny Kochanowski: Assistant Editor, Author

cooperstown 8-2015

Hi, my name is Danny. My journey has been one full of self-doubt and loathing, breaking points, anger, sadness, and a whole lot of numbness. For so long, the way that those around me talked to me, and the way I talked to myself, left me feeling inadequate, expendable, and worthless. For over a decade now, I’ve experienced every symptom of depression, fluctuating through periods where I identified with that diagnosis, and others where I found it not helpful at all.

Since college, my experience around mental health has been vast. I was my campus’ Active Minds President for two years, facilitating events and discussions surrounding myriad mental health topics. I worked as a peer bridger with the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community for most of 2016, challenging the chemically-based model I had been indoctrinated with by working with many folks who had been harmed by the system. Now, I aspire to become a Social Worker to bring as much humanity and compassion that I can to the profession.

At Dear Hope, you’ll find a profound community of individuals that grows daily. The people we continue to meet in this space constantly challenge us to change the way we view the world through placing us in their shoes. Struggle is real, and struggle is okay. If you’re ever doubting this, we are here for you, in whatever way you need it. You deserve it, whether or not you are ready to believe that.

Peace and love,


Alaina Leary: Author, Editor, Content Producer


My name is Alaina Leary, a 22-year-old Boston native studying in a Publishing and Writing graduate program at Emerson College. I’m also currently  a magazine editor and writer for several different publications. My goal is to become an editor at a book publisher or a female-positive print or online magazine. When I’m not busy playing around with words, I spend my time surrounded by my girlfriend, our two literary cats Blue Gansey, or at the beach. I can often be found re-reading my favorite books and covering everything in glitter.

In my freshman year of college, I was raped in a campus dorm room. Since then, a large part of my life has been about advocating on topics of consent, rape, sexual assault, rape culture, and safe sex. I volunteered as a SafeSite for the American Condom Campaign for three years and distributed condoms and safe sex information to college students. Surviving rape changed my life, but it also showed me that there is reason to live even when you may think there isn’t. I hope to use writing and publishing to show others that they aren’t alone – that we all go through difficulties, but that we can come out of the other side stronger.

No matter what you’re struggling with, you are never alone.




  1. Funny, I started my blog for an arts administration class last semester. As I spiraled back into depression, the tone completely changed. Thank you for reaching out and thank you for making an effort to help.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for checking in, remember that we’re not alone in facing things like this. We can often feel shut out from people who don’t understand, but maybe one day we’ll be able to shed light on this topic that is hidden in the dark. Welcome to the community =)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Paul- thank you so much for showing me your blog! You are an amazing and valuable young man- I expect more amazing things from you!! Again, thanks for all you do!!


  2. Thank you for introducing me to your site. I look forward to searching around. The isolated feeling I’ve had lately is nearing unbearable and I’ve no doubt a place like this to turn to can help.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Paul–this is a lovely blog, for all that it deals with a hard subject. I’m a member of the unfortunate club–depression and anxiety sufferer. I’m intrigued by your use of the phrase, “this is who we are”–as so many groups and individuals shun that, and argue that we are NOT our mental health issues. I have mixed feelings about it–as a born again Christian, I know that’s not how God sees me–or how He calls me; but when I’m feeling too disabled to cope with a situation or relationship, it surely seems “that’s who I am”. Any how, thanks for stopping by my blog–that’s how I got here to see yours; and know that I’m praying for you daily. Dell


    1. Hi Dell! I think you may have misinterpreted some. In the Coping: This is Who We Are section I like to have people tell their uncensored story about how they live with their different mental illness. I think it’s important in a coming to terms sense to be able to accept that your depression, anxiety, insomnia, or anything else is part of you, but not who you are. I agree that people are NOT their mental illness, but I do also think its important to realize that their mental illness is part of them.

      In one post I allude to the idea of a coin. When people get depressed, anxious, or anything else, they feel like a different person. They feel like they have two different personas. One with and one without the mental illness. I like to think that we are two sides of the same coin. So even though those two “beings” feel different internally, they actually work together to make up the whole, which is you.

      I hope this helps. To reiterate, we are not out mental illness, but they are a part of what makes us who we are.

      Hope this helps! Thanks for joining out community.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Paul, I may have read through too quickly–I was trying to absorb a lot in one take. The 2 sides of a coin metaphor works well–the disease is part of me, but I am not the disease. Kudos to you!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. i relate totally to what your saying, for me my depression hit around 14, its a very brave thing to confront, now i’m 61 so i’m getting used to it. I use writing to contact that pain, and music…nice to see you here thanks…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. hi, yes sometimes, for me miles davis helps my creativity, though something else to think about for i use my darkness, sometimes i need to access the bottom of the well, and at the time its not a good space but beauty is there..anyway just some thoughts

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I always wanted to be a disc jockey. After acting I started selling advertising at a radio station and I was said to have a good speaking voice so they put me on the air. I was maintained on Teg and Prozac for ten years and working at alternative stations like “The Edge” “Peak,” et al. I listen to and purchase new music all the time. Allison Strong

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you so much for liking my poem Rap Is Crap on my blog WordMusic. You liked it within two minutes of me posting it; probably the quickest like in all my blogging history. I can see you are a man of discerning taste, so I take it as a major compliment.

    Brent Kincaid

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I initially thought it was satire upon liking it, I wold encourage you to look deeper into rap and hip hop. There are still many talented musicians who are a part of the genre, and it was born as a voice for the voiceless. It may not be your cup of tea, but I bet you could find some lyrics worthy of respect, or instrumentals that invoke emotions inside you . You’ll just have to look farther than the radio. I do however, like your writing style. You have a knack for it, keep an open mind and keep writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Blessings Paul…I have found much comfort in the writings of Victor Frankl…I encourage you to google him, if you have not already read him.

    He really helped me in my own wrestlings with demon-depresson.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful blog, and such an important message. My daughter has struggled with depression since she was 13 and had a suicide attempt in college. Your blog makes me think about her and I am thankful she was able to learn from the experience and come out stronger. She has her ups and downs, and like you, has found ways to grow and cope. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hey Paul, just wanted to pop in and say thanks for the follow 🙂 I will take you up on the offer for a guest post as soon as I can get myself organised ! Hope you had a good

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Paul and team! I know you have over 200 Followers but wanted to nominate you guys for this as well!

    Hello! We at SURVIVORS BLOG HERE nominated you for the Liebster Award.
    This is an award for new bloggers with less than 200 followers.
    This a great way to do some networking. The Liebster award nominees are chosen by fellow bloggers. Each blogger that accepts chooses 11 other blogs to nominate, and so on, so it helps those of us with few followers get out there and be seen.
    You are not obligated to participate, but it would be very beneficial for you to do so.
    If you choose to accept the nomination, there are a few things for you to complete and post on your site:
    1. Accept nomination and apply the award image to your site.
    2. Select 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers, then notify them.
    3. Copy and answer the questions from our post on your own blog-
    The details and questions are in our post at
    We were nominated by Rob Goldstein over at Art by Rob Goldstein (
    You can find his post with his questions and answers at
    Please affix the award’s seal to your blog!


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