What’s your background, Denis?
I grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, then spent over 20 years living and working in multiple countries. In 2016 I moved back to Brazil and, due to the high cost of living, I moved back in with my parents. This was challenging in itself after having lived all over the world. A new government was coming in, so it was a huge period of transition for the country, and things felt very unsettled for me personally. On top of that, my father was forwarding me homophobic messages. I am gay, and getting those daily led me to hit rock bottom. I went as far as planning suicide.
I’m so sorry. How did you get through that?
It was during the beginning of the pandemic, when things had settled down a bit for me, that I posted my story on my workplace intranet. Hundreds of my coworkers wrote to me after that, expressing their sympathy and solidarity and opening up about their own mental health struggles.
Soon after, I saw a post about #IamRemarkable that invited people to write about why they were remarkable. That caught my attention because I’d never thought about myself in those terms. That’s when things started to change; I realized I was remarkable, and decided to begin focusing more on myself.
What did that look like for you?
I did the #IamRemarkable workshop with 12 others from my workplace, and we all shared our experiences. That was powerful, but I saw that the transformation had begun when I sat down and wrote why I was remarkable. It changed my life: After that workshop, I started believing more in myself and my skills, and enrolled in an MBA program.
When I was asked later if I wanted to be an #IamRemarkable facilitator, I agreed on the spot, because I saw the potential of joining a movement where people were able to help themselves and others. Just writing down the sentence, “I am remarkable because…” is like a trigger. It makes people rethink themselves, and I saw the good that I could do by being involved.