C-Suite Profile - Marissa Limsiaco
Co-founder and President of Otso
What physical or emotional traumas, genetic predispositions, or life events have you experienced that you feel had an impact on your ability to feel the healthiest you can feel from a mental health standpoint?
First, I want to point out that I think every human has experienced one or more of those events/traumas but won’t admit or realize the impacts on mental health because of the negative stigma in society. From my own experiences, I was under a tremendous amount of pressure growing up as a first-generation child of immigrant parents. Although I was set up for success and extremely privileged and loved by my family, I never fully ‘cycled’ through the anxiety and depression that built up through all those years until later on in life.
Additionally, the environments at West Point and the military prevented me from speaking out about my struggles with mental health/combat PTSD which ended up growing into a bigger problem later on as well.
I realize now that excelling through these experiences was a result of me being a ‘high performer’ under anxiety, but it catches up and I still struggle with some of these issues today. Lately, I’ve been working on trying to rewire to better channel that energy and find other ways to motivate myself other than ‘fear of failure’ or caring what other people think. I realize to live an authentic full life is to live without fear of things like work or financial accomplishments that ultimately don’t matter when our time comes to leave the Earth.
How did those events impact your state of mind and overall psyche in terms of symptoms?
Depression and general anxiety came to the forefront after not addressing my PTSD and all of this eventually resulted in a suicide attempt. I had panic attacks and those increased over time. I was on medication, but the pivotal moment in my recovery was when I started regularly seeing a therapist, which I continue to do today.
How did that experience that you’ve gone through change the way you view mental health?
If you do not prioritize your own mental health, you are going to eventually dive into a struggle that impacts you and those around you. Prioritizing mental health and being aware is my top priority from a self-care standpoint.
Why did you decide to share your story (whether previously or on this site for the first time)? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I agree with the 5 in 5. There is too much of a stigma around perfection especially in relation to people with a lot of accomplishments, leaders, and people we look up to. This success is glamorized but the mental health struggles of that individual to get there are rarely shared. It’s so important that people realize that there is MUCH more than the good things they see in media and TV.
Why do you value mental health? What is your motivation to help others?
Everybody has challenges. It’s important that they address them and that people talk about them and are vulnerable. There is an impression in society that perfection exists and that it’s the goal. You will go through challenges and make mistakes and with those, you will still live a wonderful life. Failures and struggles are all part of it.
When & why did you decide to ask for help to get relief from those feelings or symptoms?
Unfortunately, the culminating point for me was a suicide attempt in 2013 (five years after my deployment). People shouldn’t wait until this scary breaking point to get help.
What methods or practices helped you get/feel better?
Two years ago I started doing daily meditation and gratitude journaling. Committing to therapy. Other physical activities have also been great such as dance and yoga. Physical and mental are all connected.
If you have told your story before, how did people react when you went public? If you have not previously shared your story, how do you think people will react?
People always appreciate it. Normally it’s been in a closed environment. This, honestly, will be the first time I’m sharing this publicly. In the beginning, you’re very hesitant, especially as a Veteran. I’ve never had any bad experiences when discussing these things, and I don’t think this will be any different. If anything, I think this sharing has brought out much more security in me because I’m sharing my true self. It is very powerful. I hope that it inspires people to do the same thing.