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Life & Work with Melanie Gibson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Gibson.

Hi Melanie, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
For most of my life, I struggled with mental illness–feelings of sadness, despair, rage, and even suicidal thoughts. I didn’t know how to seek help so I hid my feelings and got through life wearing a mask of accomplishments. Like many Americans, I was suffering in silence. In my early thirties, I finally sought treatment for my depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. While treatment gave me a good baseline of wellness, I was still making poor choices and unable to control my mood swings. When I was at my emotional rock bottom at age thirty-three, I sought out a childhood activity as a last, desperate means to save my sanity–taekwondo. I’d studied the Korean martial art as a child growing up in Snyder, Texas, and thought it would be a fun distraction. As luck would have it, my Snyder childhood instructors’ grandmaster operated his training school a few miles from my home in Fort Worth. I started my training over as a white belt and got a fresh start in more ways than one. Taekwondo was just what I needed–it gave me focus, discipline, a community, and something positive to look forward to every week. From there, I began a life-changing path from troubled, lost soul to confident, happy black belt.

My book “Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts” tells the story of my mental health and taekwondo journey.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The paths from both white belt to black belt and from mental distress to mental wellness had some bumps along the way. Martial arts training can be frustrating, and I faced injuries and setbacks in my performance before I tested for black belt. While my overall mental health improved during that time, I still struggled with self-worth and became entangled in a toxic, abusive relationship. Thankfully I was able to free myself from the damaging relationship and complete my training for black belt as an independent, confident woman.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I have a corporate day job, but my real passion is writing and sharing life lessons with others who are seeking comfort, solidarity, and hope. I started my blog Little Black Belt (littleblackbelt.com) in 2014 to share the insights I was gaining from my taekwondo training. That passion for writing and taekwondo led me to write my book “Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts.” Whether a person is a martial artist or not, many have struggled with mental health issues or love someone who has. I’m sharing my story to reach these people and show them that they are not alone and there is hope for a happier future.

Since publishing my book, I’ve had the honor of appearing on many podcasts and publishing articles on mental health in such outlets as Fast Company, Authority Magazine, CEO World, and The Mighty. My interviews have appeared in local publications such as Fort Worth Magazine and Texas Lifestyle & Travel Magazine.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
Fort Worth is a big city with a big heart. As a small town west Texas girl, I love the western charm of Fort Worth while enjoying the benefits of a major city such as great restaurants and world-class arts. After fifteen years of living here, I’m still amused that I can eat the best barbecue in town and watch a beautiful ballet within a few blocks of each other.

There’s not much to dislike about Fort Worth–except I-35 North!

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Wesley Kirk

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