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The MUSE Project: Lauren Hope

She turned her tragedy into a triumph. Now Lauren Hope is using the power of storytelling to free others from their mental health struggles.

SUFFOLK, Va. — "A good girl rebuilt." 

This statement pretty much sums up the life of Lauren Hope in a nutshell. A former news reporter whose personal struggle caused her to lose everything has risen from the ashes and is using her own story to help others who are suffering in silence. A motivational speaker and writer, Hope took her blog, The Good Girl Chronicles, and has expanded it into a platform that allows others to share messages of hope with the public. The following are the (abbreviated) chronicles of Lauren Hope’s life.

Before Lauren Hope introduced herself to the world, she was formerly known as Lauren Compton. You may recognize the name from her time as an on-air reporter at WAVY News 10 -- for her, a dream job that would eventually come with a price. 

Credit: Lauren Hope
Lauren Compton began her journalist career in Lynchburg, VA

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“So when I knew I wanted to be a reporter, I said that I have to work at WAVY News 10.  So to come here and be on-air and to be working alongside these people that I once watched on TV was incredibly surreal, but it also translated into a lot of pressure,” Hope reminisced. 

Lauren started at WAVY News in 2012 and was the night and weekend reporter. She quickly became overwhelmed by the countless murder scenes and the plethora of vigils she had to cover for the news. Hope became so distressed by it all that, she decided to admit herself into therapy. 

“I remember my therapist told me one time, ‘You know every day that you do this you’re experiencing trauma to some degree and you are not giving yourself a break from this trauma,'” Hope recalled. “So in the fall of 2013, seeing all the trauma I definitely felt that. You would go to a story and you would see a kid that had been shot or a mother that had been shot and then it’s my duty to go and talk to their grieving parents and then go to the vigil and all of these things. It was so hard on me.”

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The following year, Lauren had stopped eating and began to experience sleep impedance. Things in her personal life began to spiral and she started to feel intense pressure and turmoil at work. In May of 2014, Lauren felt so hopeless that she attempted to take her own life. 

“It’s just hard because I remember after the attempt feeling very numb and just very dark and not wanting to feel this numbness anymore,” Lauren painfully recounted. “I went to the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center for five days and I know now that I didn’t get the support that I needed afterward. I was medicated, I went to groups, but I didn’t really understand what it was that lead me to that attempt.”

Credit: Jamale Stevenson
Lauren started writing about her mental illness in her blog in 2016

After a month of medical leave, Lauren returned to WAVY in July of 2014 only to encounter more problems. Lauren started experiencing extreme panic attacks and came to the realization that she needed to exit her job. Hope then put an end to her journalist career that she spent years working for -- an act that at the moment felt like ruin, but would eventually lead her to a brand new opportunity.

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“So after I had left WAVY I was in a very intense, depressive episode for about two years. In 2016, I really was compelled to write about what it looked like to survive a suicide attempt and try to start over,” Hope explained. “The blog The Good Girl Chronicles was supposed to be the black Carrie Bradshaw moment. I wanted to talk about sex, love, and relationships from a self-proclaimed goody-two-shoes perspective because I was a huge fan of that show and that’s what I wrote about at first. It was never supposed to be this revealing, transparent thing about living with mental illness.”

As soon as Lauren published her blog, she was flooded by an unprecedented response from both old viewers who knew her from her TV career to complete strangers who began to open up to her about their own struggles with mental illness. This inspired Hope to continue writing about mental illness and suicide, however, it was to her own family’s disdain. Lauren’s blog caused so much tension in her household that her parents kicked her out, thus rendering her homeless for an entire year. Even throughout this tumultuous and frightening time in her life, she continued to write and connect with others who were suffering in silence. 

Credit: Lauren Hope
Hope received invites to speak at suicide prevention conferences and mental health awareness events

“The more I shared my story, the more I felt free from the shame of living with a mental illness, shame of being homeless, shame of losing my job to mental illness. So I was starting to see what that did for me and I wanted to give that experience to other people,” Hope claimed.  

The Good Girl Chronicles received so much recognition that Lauren was invited to speak at multiple suicide prevention conferences and mental health awareness events. Hope then heard of an organization called This is My Brave which allows people to share mental health stories on a public platform.

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“I thought what if we could do something like that here but on a smaller scale? But not just mental health stories. I’m talking recovery stories, survivor stories, heartbreak stories because I know that is what frees the storyteller.”

Credit: Ryan Bengford
Spark of Hope Storytelling Nights began in September of 2018 and allows speakers to share messages of hope with the public

In September of 2018, Lauren started her Spark of Hope Storytelling Nights -- a monthly event that gives people in the local community the opportunity to share their stories of personal struggle but with a message of hope at the end. These engagements not only establish a connection amongst strangers but also offer a sense of freedom to those who want to share their testimony. In the end, Hope ultimately wants to bring more awareness to a prevalent issue in our society. 

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“For so long I swallowed and suffered in silence with my mental illness because I was ashamed. And because I couldn't accept that and because I couldn't talk to somebody about it, it just held me in so much bondage,” she admitted.“So I want to free people to tell their own story. There is something powerful in that. I want people to learn how to own their truth, live their truth, and then share their truth, whatever that is.”

Lauren is currently writing a memoir about her life and her battle with mental illness. She holds her storytelling nights once a month and will be holding a storytelling and public speaking workshop on August 31 in Virginia Beach that will be open to the public. If you would like to apply to be a storyteller, you can contact Hope at teamgoodgirl84@gmail.com or you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.