Tanya Brown: My Story

Tanya Brown: My Story

My story begins in the summer of 1994. On the night of June 12th, my sister, Nicole Brown Simpson, was murdered. My pain was indescribable and insurmountable. Because of the notoriety, it became difficult for me to go through the normal grieving process. I stuffed my emotions and remained quiet. I became a master at concealing my feelings.

My life took a detour and was not working out the way I wanted it to. I wanted to go out and speak on Domestic Violence and inspire souls, but I guess God wanted me to heal myself first. I had not known this at the time. Later I came to realize that not only did I lose my sister, I lost myself.

Photo courtesy of www.beccaclason.com


That was confirmed in 2004. I was to be married and shortly before the big day, my ex-fiancé cancelled the wedding. I became so clinically depressed that I found it impossible to even get out of bed. My body went into survival mode that I was physically affected and found myself unable to move. Every joint locked up and prevented my body to move. I literally was paralyzed. It was as though every nerve in my body was exposed and the wind was constantly blowing on me. This was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life.

Little did I know that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. All of the emotions from Nicole’s death that I had stuffed deeply inside now came pouring out of me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was exactly the trigger I needed in order for me to grieve properly and to finally face my pain.

For one month I became self-destructive. I drank heavily and I was horribly angry. I had always been a happy girl who lifted people out of despair. Now, I was in that space. I did not know what to do. I had no coping skills to tap into.

Then on October 9, 2004 all of the “STUFF” that I had suppressed for 10 years exploded in one evening. I held nothing back. On that evening, I found myself alone in my bedroom holding pills in my hand. I just wanted the pain to end. I experienced too much loss in my life and I just wanted the pain to go away. But there was a part of me that prevented me from taking the next step. I knew I was here for a greater good. I knew I had love in my life. Thank God I paused.

The next day, my sister Dominique asked me, “Are you ready?” I said, yes. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I needed a safe place because I knew I could hurt myself and maybe others. Before I knew it, I was in the care of South Coast Medical Center’s Behavioral Health. The in-patient and out-patient programs saved my life.

I was more of a student of the program than I was a patient or victim of circumstance. I was attending The University of Life. There was not one class or assignment that I missed. I did all the Self Work.

I learned the necessary cognitive tools to regain life skills and coping strategies to live a productive life. After 10 days of being an inpatient student, I began immediate treatment in the outpatient program. I was so frightened to be discharged but I new I had to learn to survive in the outside world. The center was the only place where I felt safe and most productive. It was a place to cry and divulge the secret anger and pain that was festering inside of me.

The out-patient program was my classroom for the next two months. Everyday I sat as a student absorbing all the information I possibly could. My Occupational Therapist gave us homework assignments every day and every week. Week-by-week we would have to establish daily and weekly goals. One of my goals was to get out of bed. Then my goal was to make my bed. Another goal was to drive myself to the program. When I did drive for the first time, I was so anxious, scared and insecure to be behind the wheel of a car. Remember, I was paralyzed.

I had to re-learn everything. I literally had a clean slate. This all may sound so silly, but when you are so depressed it is impossible to do the simple things. I was given problem solving worksheets that allowed me to see what my successes were for that week and what roadblocks we encountered. In other words, the program gave me tools to create a healthier, safer and more balanced life.

I created a binder for all of my school work. To this day, I still refer to it for myself and for my coaching clients.

Having the necessary tools prevents relapse on many different levels. This experience gave me the tools, skills and strategies to help me get through the stressers of life. If an event happens, it is our response that determines our outcome. So, I have learned to pause, digest, respond and not react.

From this experience I resumed my education at Argosy University in Psychology specializing in Cognitive Behavioral and Existential Therapy. I am pursuing my Masters in Psychology as we speak.

Included with domestic violence prevention, I am excited to announce that this experience is another focus in my speaking and life coaching business. I want to prevent others from going through what I went through. Sadly, many people fall into depression and experience anxiety. There are tools for change that can help prevent this distress.

Tragically, many follow through on their suicidal ideations. I am a fortunate one. But, there are many who are not as fortunate.

I desire to educate, inspire, motivate and create a comfortable forum for others to share so they don’t have to experience despair of its largest magnitude.

This is preventable and is manageable.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I hope to help you &  save lives.

I invite you to reach out and visit my website for coaching, speaking and workshop services at www.tanyabrown.net.  You are not alone on this journey.
Huge Hugs


Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Molly grew up in and around funeral homes her entire life. In 2009 she began working for O'Connor Mortuary and found a bridge between her passion for writing and her interest in grief and bereavement. In 2016 she earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She is honored to be able to write about these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.


  1. Molly says:

    Your courage just astounds me. You have a story that almost no one can relate to and your courage to tell it & share your heart break is so touching. All I can think to do is tell you how sorry I am that your life has been so full of pain. But the attitude you have taken on, your passion to help others, to learn as much as you can & speak wisdom & comfort to people is all the more incredible given where you’ve come from and how few people make it to where you are. I’m so encouraged & inspired by your message, your fortitude, and your determination to give tragedy another meaning.

    Thank you for all you do, I can’t wait to read more!

    • Tanya Brown says:

      Hi Molly,
      Yes, it has been quite a journey and still is. Life is challenging and sad at times. We all go through our ups an downs and it is how we cope with those events that determines our tomorrow. But, if people don’t have the tools to cope, then they can lead a path of destructiveness. That is my job; to teach coping skills to those so they don’t have to suffer like so many of us had to.
      It is so cliche, but attitude really is everything. Approach everything in life with gratitude and try your hardest to do that on your most difficult days.
      Huge Hugs

  2. Betty F says:

    In my ministry I see so many hurting families from such tragedies as you have been through. I know it takes people like you who know what effect this has on everyone to help them work through to a meaningful life and to find some happiness through all the pain. God has a specific place for you and you will be blessed to serve those who go through such tragedies.
    I wish you the best in your life plan to serve others.
    Betty F.

    • Tanya Brown says:

      Hi Betty,
      It has been with God’s helping hand that I was able to persevere. Without faith in a higher power life can be such a challenge. Thank you for the work you do in bringing healing and hope to the hurting.
      Huge Hugs

  3. Lori says:


    Thank you for sharing your story. One thing we have in common is that path of self-destructiveness.
    I am so glad you are on this end of it and inspiring so many. Doesn’t it feel incredible to find your purpose?
    I met your sister Denise at an event years ago and enjoyed talking to her. You come from an amazing family.
    Thank you for working so hard to help others.

    All the best to you,

    • Tanya Brown says:

      Hi Lori,
      Yes, self destruction is a scary to be. Helping people to face their stuff will only bring them the confidence to tackle any challenge in life. That way, they won’t feel they have to take that dark path.
      We simply need to create a platform for them to do so.
      Huge Hugs

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