Mother Run: Melinda Duso of The Beardless Coffee
Social media seems to get a bad rep these days. With accusations that it makes people addicted to their phones, supports a culture of comparison, and decreases true human connection--it’s easy to get swept up in the negatives. It’s not all bad, though. One thing social media is amazing at is connecting people who might otherwise not have met and allowing us to share our stories and find communities that we feel supported in. That’s where the story of Melinda Duso begins--her own little corner of the internet called The Beardless Coffee.
A mental health advocate, blogger, and content creator, Melinda began sharing her story online “as a therapeutic outlet about three years ago.” “One day I opened up about my pain on Instagram and since then I’ve made it my mission to help anyone I can through my own transparency,” she explains. “The feedback I received when I opened up was empowering and enlightening,” she says. “I knew a lot of people struggled in silence, but I never knew how much it could mean to watch or read someone else’s experience until I first shared my own struggles.”
That’s where social media gets it right. It’s accessibility and ability to connect us through common experience can be life changing. What would once cause us to suffer in silence now allows us to find the support and community we otherwise would not have had. “I think so much of what I love about the Instagram community is that I choose exactly who I want to follow,” Melinda says. “Personally, I am someone that not only loves to see the success of others, but it’s so inspiring to me. It almost fuels me to see my sisters all over the world thriving. I think it all comes down to perspective and feeding your mind with your own positivity (through books, podcasts, meditation) goes a really long way for how you perceive your peers on social media. You make change by being a product of the change you want to inspire. Cheer others on, express kindness ESPECIALLY when it’s hard, and always understand that we all fail no matter what is in the little pretty little square you’re scrolling through.”
It’s important to note that while finding your community on social media can be exceedingly helpful and sharing your own story can be cathartic, it’s not all that is needed to deal with mental health. “A lot of my recovery began from seeking professional help and finding the right medication,” says Melinda, “but when I shared my pain I noticed that others shared as well and THAT helps me continue to ‘fight the good fight’ of always being open minded to how others experience mental health struggles.” Getting that professional help isn’t always easy, though. “Asking for help is one of the scariest aspects of recovery,” she explains. “It’s taking off every mask we’ve ever put on and it’s saying ‘this is me. I’m damaged, I’m in pain (and I don’t always know why), and I am not even sure what’s wrong with me...I just know I don’t think I can make it alone anymore.’ But I promise that even saying the words ‘I need help’ will make things become a little less scary. They also have numbers you can text now to make things easier!”
Another thing Melinda credits to her ongoing recovery is exercise. “Oh, man, endorphins are the best,” she shares. “I do take medication but I also am afraid of dependency (my parents were addicts) so I try to cope in other ways to help keep my dosage as low as I can manage. Exercise helps me in so many ways. Mostly by 1) reminding me of the control I have over my mind/body and 2) release stress in a way that doesn’t harm myself or those around me.”
In addition to sharing her story and building a community on Instagram, Melinda also blogs at The Beardless Coffee. “My blog started as ConsistentlyInconsistent.co and at the time it was a perfect name, but now as I grew so did my name and brand so now I’m working hard on my forever site,” she explains. Her new site might be a work in progress but she is busy creating content and making plans for how she wants to grow. “I would like to be more inclusive,” Melinda says. “My story is long and I can write about it for years I’m assuming, but I want to learn more about other’s journeys and struggles. I want more things to research and create. I would like to serve as many people as possible with my writing, research, and friendship.”
Melinda is also the founder of Fierce Lady Gang. “My vision for the Fierce Lady Gang is to inspire sisterhood,” she says. “I don’t breathe life into things I dislike often, but if there is one thing that really chaps my ass is hearing ‘girls are too much drama. I’m more like a guy and would rather have guy friends.’ What does that even mean?! There is such a thing as compatibility and not everyone will get along, but I am creating a space where women celebrate each other and all of our complexities. You’re an introvert? There’s a fierceness in that. You’re assertive? Own your fierceness. Be a fierce friend, a fierce advocate, a fierce family member, a fierce leader, and STOP APOLOGIZING FOR IT. You, me, and most people are just full of fierceness waiting to be unlocked. I think many of us grow up thinking we need to be anything but ourselves to fit in and life is hard enough as it is without feeling like we need to compete with our female friends for attention, recognition, or relationships. I can go on forever about my vision for the FLG, but it may just have to wait for a later time for the sake of being concise.”
No matter what your personal passions, figuring out how to find your own brand of balance is always a struggle. “I can’t say that I’ve completely overcome this challenge,” says Melinda. “I think all mothers who find a passion and drive for something all their own get enveloped in the upstart and the feeling of success. I am constantly trying to improve and remind myself that yes, I matter and I never want to forget that again, but my family also matters. Recently we have implemented no screen hours for the entire family. Six to eight is dinner and family time and 8-10 is time I dedicate to my husband during the week. Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not, but I am choosing to recognize progress while constantly trying to be better. I work while everyone is at school and work then again at night if I have the energy.”
All the hard work she is putting in now is building up towards even bigger things. “I want to hold a conference one day,” Melinda shares. “I want to bring men and women all over the world to celebrate the Fierce Lady Gang we’ve created. I, The Beardless Coffee, want to be one of many women who stand up to share my story and to remind everyone there that I truly care about their well being.”
Though she’s aiming high and hoping to grow her platform and help many others, her definition of success doesn’t hinge on big, future things and is a great reminder that we can find those feelings of success at every level. “To me, success means that I am making strides at positive change,” she explains. “I share my life with thousands of people and if I get one person to thank me or reach out about their pain, I am succeeding.”
So what is Melinda’s advice to anyone going through struggles of their own? “Begin to explore your struggles with mental health so that it isn’t so scary/frustrating and so that you don’t have to deal with something so terrifying alone,” she advises. “Read an article that addresses your struggles, start to write down your feelings and look for a pattern, follow a mental health advocate online who you can relate to. And if you can, get professional help. Don’t settle for the first therapist you find. Spend time finding a therapist you can really connect with. There is someone out there for all of us. I want to emphasize that I don’t claim to know everything about mental health, but I do know how terrifying it can be to live inside your own brain when you suffer from a mental illness. I want to change the way people look at the words ‘you are not alone’ by SHOWING what it’s like to be happy, funny and driven one day and glued to your bed next.”
If you’d like to connect with Melinda and follow her mental health journey visit her:
On the web
Thanks for reading!
Yours in business + motherhood,