Director, Viability, Inc. and Founder, Infuse Leadership
Living with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance use disorder

Although Toni Bator never thought she would be able to have a career because of her mental health conditions, she has transformed her lifetime of experiences into a career as a Life Coach. Now, Toni is dedicated to helping others navigate their mental and behavioral health journeys. When she is not working as a coach, Toni stays well by playing competitive tennis, getting eight hours of sleep each night, meditating, practicing gratitude, and having purpose.

Toni’s Story

Briefly, how has your condition impacted your life?   What was your most difficult time? 

My life after high school graduation was filled with promise but my story is one of struggles with addiction, legal issues, and mental health issues which derailed my education and career. At the age of 21, I was on a solid career path within the human services field. With a B.S. in Psychology and a progression from entry-level direct care positions to management positions within the field, I was advancing as planned, or so it seemed. While enrolled in a Clinical Psychology program, I dropped out of graduate school due to my addiction.

My drinking continued to progress and my life continued to spiral out of control. While intoxicated, I was in a horrible car accident and I broke a lower vertebrae in my back. I eventually hit bottom and once I stopped drinking, I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD and substance use disorder. In 1997 I was hospitalized for attempting suicide. I would go another 10 years until my second hospitalization in 2007. These were the most difficult times in my life.

What is your life like now? 

Fortunately, I had to overcome many difficult challenges, but I have gained resilience and successes that I never thought were possible.

2017 – Sobriety and employed as a substance abuse counselor for Addiction Campuses

2018 – Completed M.S. degree in Leadership in 2018

2018 – present – Employed as Director of a Psychosocial Rehabilitative Clubhouse Model for individuals with mental illness

2020 – Certified Life Coach and Digital Behavioral Health Coach

What help or specific strategies helped you to get well and move to stability?   

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, medication, and a wonderful support system were essential in my sobriety and management of my mental health.

Are there positives that have come from having a mental health condition?  If so, what?

I would say the positives that have come from having a mental health condition include increased emotional and social intelligence.

How has your condition impacted your work and your career? 

As a leader, I have to be aware of stressors and be proactive in building resilience and engaging in self-care. It has been difficult being supervised by managers who don’t understand the impact mental illness can have on an individual’s professional life.

What motivated you to join The Stability Network?  What do you hope to get from it?

The mission and vision of The Stability Network align with my values and advocacy work. I have had the opportunity to connect with other Stability Leaders and I look forward to the continued journey to destigmatize mental ill-health.