Inside the Story: Woman's '444 Project' fights depression, brings hope to others

Inside the Story: Woman's '444 Project' aims to bring joy to others' lives (Photo provided by Josie Thompson Solomon)

(KUTV) What gets you out of bed every morning? It's a question one Utah County woman says saved her life.

Now she's traveling across the world trying to save others.

Josie Thompson Solomon is an accomplished pianist who was a straight-A student in high school, a star athlete, homecoming queen, and the student body president.

"I was very determined and very, I like to think successful, active and engaged," said Solomon.

She's also beautiful with blonde hair, green eyes, and a big, bright smile.

And at 27-years-old, she's the founder of a humanitarian organization that's changing kids' lives across the world.

"It gives my life purpose," said Solomon.

But sit down and talk with her one-on-one and you begin to meet the real woman and the internal demons she's constantly fighting.

She calls herself "a broken girl."

"Right now I feel constantly consumed in darkness," she admits. "I will just put on a smile and go forward as if, but really inside I feel pretty awful."

It all started when Solomon was in her second year of college.

Suddenly the sunlight vanished and the darkness hit.

"It was like, 'Bam', this wall," she said.

It was so bad that she spent three years, literally, in bed.

"I just had to micromanage every single movement and action that I made because everything became so challenging," said Solomon.

She was diagnosed with major depression, and later, with type-two bipolar disorder.

She would go on to try more than 40 medications and see over 30 specialists.

Some relief finally came in an unplanned road trip that brought new light.

"I just started exploring and meeting new people and listening to their stories and I just fell in love and really believed that people are inherently good," Josie said. "Everybody has a story to tell and their story matters."

That's when she came up with the idea for what she called the 444 Project.

She interviewed 444 people across the country in 30 cities while living out of her car for 100 days, asking them what gets them out of bed in the morning.

Suddenly Josie's own life began to have new meaning.

"I have learned that no matter who you are, you have a reason to live, you have purpose, and you have a reason to put two feet on the floor every single day and get out of bed," she said.

With the help of her husband of just seven months, Brighton, the 444 Project is gearing up for its next big adventure -- this one to Tanzania.

Solomon is also on the speaking circuit. She travels, sharing her story in the hopes of bringing light to those who, like her, are overcome by depression.

"We can do it together. We can make it through and hold on until the light comes and we can believe that joy is there, even if you can't feel it," she said.

Solomon says she's learned three valuable truths that are keeping her going:

  • One, everybody has a story to tell.
  • Two, goodness is still alive and well.
  • Three, everybody has a reason to get out of bed.

For more about the 444 Project, visit its website.

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