Mental Health is Happiness

* Warning: This story contains graphic language and scenarios that may be harmful to sensitive readers.

As a French-Canadian girl growing up in British Columbia, my dream come true is living in the land of the palms, California. On a mission to empower the children of the world to believe in themselves through the power of I AM WHO I SAY I AM.

How did I get here? It started with believing it was possible.

Profile of a girl silhouette watching sun on the beach at sunset
All my life, I’ve heard, you have to believe in yourself. I always thought, that sounds great, how do I do that?

I was starting to believe in myself until the shackles of addiction and the ravages of a bio-polar brain sucked every morsel of positivity from my mind.

Over the course of our family moving eleven times in eleven years, came the life crushing transition from primary school to junior high school. A boundary line dictated all my classmates were to attend a different high school. That boundary line was the guillotine that severed me from my accomplishments, relationships, community standing and sense of self.

A couple of months later, we moved AGAIN! To a four year high school!

My first day in class two girls spewed jealousy in my direction. “Look at her she thinks she is so pretty.” They did not like me because of my looks, so, I decided to take the high road. High school for me was being high in school.

My potential was poisoned with drops of acid, gallons of alcohol and pounds of pot.

Alcohol and drugs were my social studies, mental illness was my major and I minored in sexual confusion.

Mischa Martineau

My school report cards read like a hymnal at church singing my praises from kindergarten through grade seven. Honor roll grades with acclaims for character, intellectual acuity, athletic and artistic bravery.

“Michele is outgoing, articulate, and quick to learn.” My life was flourishing with God-given talent voraciously acquiring life and career skills. Then, in years eight through eleven my story twisted into a eulogy of who I was becoming and the implosion of who I became.

A student with straights A’s and zero absences devolved to forty-five days absent and zero assignments completed. That class report card Grade was F – Fail. I can imagine looking over the shoulder of the dejected teacher who wrote: “Michele, you are very capable, all you have to do is apply yourself.”

Sounds great, how do I do that?

Strong woman breaking free overcoming life’s difficulties, mental strength concept.

Overcoming adversities

The genesis of I AM WHO I SAY I AM is the pathway of my life and career recovering from: alcoholism, bi-polar, suicidal ideation, homelessness, and domestic violence. It is getting me through it all. And, we all have our it.

Surviving mental illness – telling others my life was in danger and they didn’t believe me

At various times, I’ve tried to communicate that I was under threat of losing my life. People didn’t seem to believe me. They didn’t want to believe me. “Not you, you are the most positive person I know.” When I was in the eye of the storm, others saw me as calm and centered in that moment. My distress was on outward pause. Inside I was shattered, every piece of me was blown to bits.

I needed help and for a few reasons I wouldn’t tell anyone. The phrase that almost pushed me over the edge, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond.” That felt like a kick in the teeth.

Being homeless and facing the toughest interview question

My obsession for I AM WHO I SAY I AM was a high wire balancing act for financial stability. A series of life events including being laid-off a career position and dealing with my elderly parents led to a year of homelessness. Living out of my car, I slept in nine places: hotels, Airbnbs, as a room-mate and in a recovery halfway house with five men and no locks on any doors, bathroom or bedroom.

My circle of friends each said, “you have to let go of I AM WHO I SAY I AM.” I learned to stop telling anyone that I was still working on it. Applying I AM WHO I SAY I AM to my life and the grace of the God of my understanding was carrying me through.

Sitting in my car not knowing where I would sleep on any given night blasted the cap off of my distress meter. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Ok, God. I give up.

I let go of it. It would not let go of me. People would ask, at every turn of my life, what’s happening with your program?

Applying for jobs, the toughest interview question was where do you live?

Mischa Martineau

Surviving domestic violence

The five words that blew me out the door forever: You don’t know dick bitch.

I tried to leave I don’t know how many times. I do remember giving my landlord written notice to vacate, four times. The job I thought I had, fell through was one excuse for the sudden reversal. One night I drove to a motel. I needed windshield wipers over my eyeballs. In a blur, I pulled in.

My thoughts devoured my self-worth. With abject humiliation I slumped toward the reception desk. Breathing staccato, ingesting my shame. A man and a woman were there. I didn’t want to see them clearly. I didn’t want them to see me at all. I felt the burn of their gaze in my nakedness.

Counting my money, I don’t know how little I was short, I do know it was little. “Will you accept this?” If they were speaking, I didn’t hear any words. I saw them look at each other and at me, their heads moving back and forth in slow motion. I was mortified and petrified. How could they not help me?

After the next altercation, I was lying in a hospital bed with black eyes and a swollen lip. My friend Davey, like an angel, appeared at my bedside. His eyebrows peaked and fell as as he leaned in to give comfort. “Michie, it’s over.” My response, “but I don’t want it to be.” My tank of self-esteem had disintegrated. I was a shell of a human being.

The I AM WHO I SAY I AM My Discovery Journal should be in every shelter in the country.

Denise Brown

Image concept of a network of neurons in the human brain.

Neuroscience and engineering my belief system

Emigrating to the USA, my business career was seeded in real estate. At age 22 I was the VP and Chair of PR and Communications for an association.

In 1985, at a leadership event, Lou Tice, chairman and co-founder of The Pacific Institute, introduced me to the power of self-talk. Leveraging its power is the core of I AM WHO I SAY I AM. My first application was to become a non-smoker again.

Control your self-talk or your self-talk controls you.

Lou Tice

My passion was connecting neuroscience with positive mental health outcomes and sustainable cultural transformation. At the 2001 Global Project Directors Conference in Seattle, Washington, I was recognized for a bold HIV/Aids initiative. My work included:

  • Convening a ground-breaking leadership forum for HIV/AIDS
  • Serving as a Subject Matter Expert for the Ghana Delegation

I founded Martineau Systems as an independent affiliate and built-out a proprietary system for:

  • Empowering individuals and businesses to create and articulate their unique value propositions
  • Aligning and integrating marketing, business and belief systems

Early career bold initiatives:

  • Pioneering the first car brokerage services for women in 1987 Car Finders, Inc
  • Pioneering a fee-based business model for real estate that protected consumers from dual agency and predatory lending

The most powerful system for success is one’s belief system

Mischa Martineau
Brain with a stethoscope
Mental health concept. human brain on a blue background

Authoring the I AM WHO I SAY I AM – My Discovery Journal – while getting sober

I started to develop the I AM WHO I SAY I AM program in 2005. The year I became sober. The detox was brutal. I was going to hurl myself off my patio. My partner was in recovery from alcoholism and a mental health professional. She took me to a psychiatric hospital. When you admit you are thinking of harming yourself or others, that’s a one way ticket to the nut ward. I was on board with it until the reality hit that I could not leave if I wanted to. When they break out the crayons in group therapy, the humiliation swirls in my body like a lava lamp.

I have enjoyed many years of stability supported by medication compliance and mental health services. I AM WHO I SAY I AM keeps me medication compliant. It has helped me to take preventative steps and to call the suicide hotline. That was something I never wanted to do. I didn’t want to admit to anyone, even anonymously what I was going through. I have those tools now.

That soul on the phone that night and my psychiatrist Dr. Powell helped to save my life. Dr. Powell stayed in touch with me through the night via text. He was like a father to me. Ultimately my heavenly father is my savior.

I’ve been working on the latest iteration of I AM WHO I SAY I AM for 17 years.

A close friend said, “you’ve been working on it for a long time, maybe it’s just not meant to be. Your mental illness is a disability. There are some things you just cannot do.”

Now I know what is meant by putting a bug in your ear. It was like a creepy crawly creature attacking my belief system. With the help of my support team, I left that relationship with parting words, I choose to focus on my capability!

Disabilities? I choose to focus on my capabilities!

Mischa Martineau
Human two heads with gears. Human brain functioning concept. Uniqueness and complexity of the thought process. Communication

I AM WHO I SAY I AM is the mental technology to believe in myself and live my purpose.

I’ve always pursued my passionate interests: the performing arts, business and mental health. At the intersection of technology, neuroscience and communications.

As a business consultant, I have mentored organizational leaders to increase high performance Implementing solutions at their root causes: individual and collective belief systems. Conference events include:

  • Senior business advisor, Executive Next Practices Institute inaugural Neuro Leadership Forum, UCI Applied Innovation, California
  • Keynote speaker, Women In Technology International, Orange County, California

My recognition in the field of mental health includes:

  • Guest LA Talk Radio, hosted by Allen Cardoza and Dr. Matt Polacheck, Director Outpatient for Betty Ford Clinic LA
  • Guest instructor for the graduating class, Master’s in Psychology, Chicago School of Psychology, Irvine, CA

Regardless of circumstance, mental health is my happiness.

Mischa Martineau

Living a purposeful life transforming lives.

As the founder, president, program developer and communications mentor for I AM WHO I SAY I, I’m striving toward our vision: to live in an equal human rights world where all people are valued and championed.

Leveraging my experience in cultural transformation, technology and mental health, I’m evolving the mental technology of I AM WHO I SAY I AM to empower others to:

  • overcome the effects of mental illness,
  • elevate and realize their career aspirations,
  • while enjoying mental health and happiness.

In the massive sea of training programs and inspirational podcasts, have you ever heard you have to believe in yourself, and thought, that sounds great, how do I do that?

When empowered to believe in yourself, who will you become? Let’s find out!

Mischa Martineau