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
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Hi Tanya –
    I am still at a loss for words over Nicole’s death. It has been painful to see your family go through this nightmare and tragedy. I am proud of you, you could have given up on life and choose another path to go down. You are truly an incredible women, spirit and dear friend. I admire how you have given you life to helping others.

    This quote reminds me of YOU!
    “In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”
    Flora Edwards –


    • Tanya Brown says:

      HI Friend,
      You have been on this journey with me in many ways. Without you by my side encouraging me to say goodbye to my sister, who knows if I ever would have gotten the closure I needed.
      Thank you for helping me.
      With Gratitude and Huge Hugs

  2. Hello Tanya,

    What a beautiful new chapter in your life! Thank you for the inspiring update. I truly believe the best counselors are those who have walked through personal pain and have emerged, because that is where true empathy is sculpted in us.

    May God bless you even more in the future chapters!



    • Tanya Brown says:

      Hi Linda,
      I agree that those who have walked the path can guide others with a deep understanding. I would rather have Nicole here than have a degree, but she is not. Therefore, I have moved on by accepting the fact and now dedicate my life to help others.
      But, we all have a story to share that can always help others.
      Huge Hugs

  3. Tanya Brown says:

    Hi Loretta,
    That is a name I have not seen in a while. Loretta O’Connor? If so, hello!
    My mom always said I was an open book. I guess it is a good thing because it is helping people now. I plan on continuing to do so.
    Huge Hugs

  4. Tanya,

    It is always so powerful to bare ones soul. Powerful for us who get an insight to another’s struggles and triumphs and I propose powerful for you or the person doing the baring. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is great to be able to get a glimpse of another on this journey. For you to be able to come full circle and now help and inspire others just shows what the human spirit is capable of. I know Nicole would be so proud and is with you along the way. Take care.

    Chuck Ricciardi (Loretta)

  5. amy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. What a difficult journey this has been for you. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like or how it made you feel. I am very grateful that you are here today to help others. You are truly an inspiration to all. Your sister Nicole would be very proud of you and the work you are doing to honor her legacy. Glad you are a part of the O’Connor Family.

    • Tanya Brown says:

      HI Amy,
      I am so excited and grateful to be part of this team. It is amazing to me how many people can relate to my story. To me, it is just my story and I had no idea how many people it would touch. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help your friends and families in need.
      Huge Hugs

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