Sometimes, when nothing seems to be going as planned, it’s important to remember that:

“Absolutely everything happens for a reason, and absolutely nothing happens before its predestined time.”

Mahogany Anderson had to learn this at the lowest point of her life. After she was hospitalized because she was struggling with her mental health, a doctor comforted her with the previous quote, a quote that she goes by to this day. Changes and obstacles have always been a part of Mahogany’s life, but a great friend and the discovery of a talent and hobby became her safe haven.

Mahogany Anderson grew up with her mom and siblings in Syracuse, New York. You would never catch her missing school because it was her favorite thing to do. She says it was her “jam” and getting good grades brought true happiness.

Growing up, she explored many career options as she was figuring out what she liked to do and who she wanted to be. She tried culinary arts and signed up for a few baking competitions where she won regionals. Then she joined NSBY, the National Society for Black Engineers. She competed in a TriMathlon, a competition where students focus on algebra, calculus, and geometry, but did not enjoy it because she did not feel challenged. She participated in a science fair and placed first in regionals and nationals. Even though she was good in all three fields, she noticed that she wasn’t happy. She loved warm human interaction, and there just wasn’t enough of it there.

“I’m a lover. I always want to help people and make their day better.”

In search of who she was, she relied heavily on her all-time favorite author, Anne Rice. Reading Anne’s work, Mahogany could escape from her reality and exist in a completely different world where she was happy, carefree, and successful.

Through her trial and error of finding what she loved and what she was good at, there was always one constant: writing!

She could express her feelings, tell stories, and even use it to decompress and feel better at the end of the day. During her college career, she had an English teacher, Miss Villanovski, who encouraged her to take writing more seriously because she was good at it. With her teacher’s support, feedback, and encouragement, Mahogany worked on writing poetry.

This poem meant so much to Mahogany, because after writing it, she realized that her words and writing were her strength and passion. Unfortunately, things were not going her way. In the course of one year, she lived in her car, then her car got towed, and she became unemployed.

While living in her car, Mahogany tried to make the best of her situation. Even though this was a hard time for her, she remembered this point of her life as happy. Turning up the music, listening to the words of her favorite singer John Legend, and singing “Save Room” from the top of her lungs was almost therapeutic. 

“The song feels like a hug on a park bench in Central Park, on a fall’s evening, from a person you adore because they always know how to comfort you.”

This was the reassurance she needed to remind herself that:

Absolutely everything happens for a reason, and absolutely nothing happens before its predestined time.” 

Mahogany managed to get a job working the night shifts at a gas station, and if she ever needed to use the bathroom or buy anything, she would buy it there. She used a local gym’s bathroom when she needed to shower. With a positive attitude, Mahogany used this time to figure out what she wanted.

A job opportunity in Miami presented itself and without hesitation, she took it. This meant new opportunities and a breath of fresh air after living in her car for a year. Mahogany was so excited and looked forward to the challenges and opportunities her new job was going to bring her. Nothing could go wrong, except everything did. 

Mahogany fell into a deep depressive episode after realizing she was not happy at her new job. Every day was another day where she felt empty and unfulfilled like her life was a waste of time. When her mental health started to spiral out of control, her roommate took her to the hospital to get help. He simply could not watch Mahogany suffer any longer and not do anything about it.

The doctors at the hospital diagnosed Mahogany with Bipolar II Disorder, formerly known as Manic Depressive Disorder. She spent every day crying nonstop and didn’t know why.

“I was just bawling my eyes out in the room, just crying and crying, and then I felt this warm and soothing feeling. As I turned around, a doctor was standing by the door frame, and he goes, ‘Mahogany, you keep crying. Are you ok? Is there anything that I can do?’ I’m like, no, I don’t want to be here anymore. And he said, ‘Absolutely everything happens for a reason, and absolutely nothing happens before its predestined time. So if you need me, let me know.’ His name was Doctor Michael. So the next day, I went to find Doctor Michael to thank him for his advice, and literally, no one knew who he was. No Doctor Michael was working in that hospital. I was speechless.” 

However, during her time in the hospital, Mahogany never stopped writing. It was healing to her.

Being able to branch out of her negative thoughts did not come easy. She had her best friend Sadiyyah’s support, who she says is a strong mental pillar for her. Sadiyyah and Mahogany have been best friends since they were in grade school. Both of them have been inseparable since day one, celebrating big milestones and supporting each other during not-so-happy moments of life.

After being released from the hospital, Sadiyyah would be on the phone with her for hours, hearing her pour her heart out. 

“I emptied myself to her time after time, and she was right there every day to pour positivity back into me. She would say, ‘Hoggy, if you can’t walk right now, stand. If you can’t stand, kneel. If kneeling is too much, sit. But keep your head up; God will meet you where you are and lift you out of this. I am here with you, sis.”

Eventually, the calls got shorter and brighter. To this day, Sadiyyah is there for Mahogany to celebrate her little and big milestones. 

A few months later, the sun was finally coming out after the storm. After working on herself and prioritizing her mental health, Mahogany started feeling like herself again; the free-spirited, people-lover everyone knew and loved.

She settled in Orlando, Florida and started working for McKinley as a Customer Care Associate. She was looking for this: an opportunity to help others, make them smile, and find them their fantastic home. She remembers feeling so grateful for the opportunity after being interviewed. This was proof that she could function normally and get past any obstacles thrown her way.

“There is never truly a bad day, only bad moments. And if you can isolate that and work through that moment, you can ensure that you have a good day.”

Today, Mahogany is a Senior Sales Associate and works hard to ensure her residents receive the best customer care possible; adapting to their needs and finding the best solution to any problem. Going through mental health problems herself, she knows how to be empathetic and understanding because you never know what someone is going through internally. 

Feeling happier and healthier than she’s ever felt, Mahogany is working on finishing a couple of writing pieces to get them published by the end of this year. Her lifelong dream is to publish what she wrote at her lowest lows and highest highs. 

Mahogany is a true example of perseverance, determination, and resilience. Mahogany is McKinley!

McKinley understands the importance of mental health. Through our medical benefits provider, Cigna, we offer a variety of ways to seek immediate help and receive continued support for your mental health journey. Check out your employee handbook for details on Talkspace and Ginger, two programs for immediate support.