TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Johnny Crowder is all too familiar with the daily struggle of depression. The 26-year-old Tampa native was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, and said he spent his young years battling his mental demons.
"At the time, I couldn't really do anything. Everything was the hardest thing. Making a sandwich took me an hour and a half," Crowder told FOX 13.
However, it took just one sentence from a loved one to completely change his outlook.
"She had something to the effect of, 'It's difficult to date someone if you don't know whether or not they're going to be alive the next day,'" Crowder recalled. "As a result, I was like, 'I can live with me feeling pain, but I can't live with the people I love feeling pain.'"
Crowder soon realized that brightening others' day was the medicine he needed.
What started as encouraging texts to his friends soon morphed into a much bigger idea.
"I wanted to build something where they would read one little thing a day that would inspire more conversation," he said.
He calls them Cope Notes. It's a service that sends encouraging text messages to hundreds of subscribers around the world.
Crowder even takes the time to write the messages himself.
"Everything's written by doctors, and that is very unapproachable for a lot of people," he explained. "So, I wanted the content to be written from the lens of peer support and lived experience."
The texting service creates a unique, virtual support system for each user. They are even able to text back and respond, creating a personal and private way for them to express their feelings.
Crowder stated that Cope Notes isn't just for those struggling with depression; it's geared toward anyone who just needs a pick-me-up throughout their day.
However, Crowder said the payoff has been felt on a personal level.
"I did not think I would be alive at 26," he said. "I think it really truly is an honor to be able to use my lived experience this way."
He said his struggles are now being used to help those currently struggling.
LINK: For more information on Cope Notes, click here.