When you first meet Kara Demindes, you’re struck by her unshakable resolve. Born at just 24 weeks, Kara spent the first nine months of her life in the hospital, fighting to survive. “I held on,” she says. “And I’m still holding on today.”
Kara’s early years were shaped by a three-month stint in a psychiatric hospital and by her mother’s struggle with substance use. Kara can tell you the addresses of all the places she lived in West Baltimore. And the names of nearly a dozen public schools she attended—including a few where she was expelled for fighting both students and teachers.
“Even though I had places to live, I wasn’t mentally or financially stable at all,” Kara explains. “I had so much anger inside and resentment toward my mother, and I didn’t know how to express it.”
Kara fended for herself as a child, defended others against bullies as a tween and carried her fiery spark into early adulthood. A prime example? Even after becoming a mother at 16, Kara insisted on remaining in school to earn her high school diploma.
At 32, Kara is finding healthy ways to channel the fight. She has her first stable home in years and regular sessions with her therapist.
For the first time, Kara feels in control of her environment. And like many parents, she’s learned that to make life better for her kids, she needs to start with herself. “I was never given the information on how to show somebody love and affection because it was never given to me,” Kara says. “I’ve learned a lot of coping mechanisms that make it easier for me to think before I react.”
You’ve probably used some of Kara’s tips, too: pause and take a breath, go for a walk, call a friend.
“I’ve been through a lot,” Kara says. “A lot of people gave up on me. Even my mom gave up on me at times. But I kept going. Now I’m in a much better space than I’ve been in my whole life.”