What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share? 

It hasn’t always been easy navigating life with such a big heart. It doesn’t seem like that big of issue; however, if you’re also an empath, a perfectionist, or are diagnosed with generalized anxiety, you probably understand.  

Growing up, in school, and even in my undergraduate studies, I didn’t realize why I cared so much about everything. It was so easy for me to feel sad, feel happy, and feel empathy all at once or within a few moments of each other.   

Learning that this is just part of my personality in addition to learning I have generalized anxiety and dysthymia (mild depression) has made things so much easier.  

I now realize I have a gift: having a big heart. Even though sometimes I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, I also have a sense of others, a type of intuition, many people don’t.  

I am able to feel what others are feeling without much thought. I am able to care and make a difference in people’s lives because I can really understand and appreciate what they are going through.  

With that being said, I thought for most of my life that I was going to be a medical doctor. But I realized, based on my strengths and weaknesses, that my qualities may be put to better use in a different area of healthcare.  

When I started in my master’s of public health at South Dakota State University, I had no clue where I was going to end up. But being in suicide prevention work has really open a lot of doors to a lot of amazing people. These people and these opportunities have allowed me to build my confidence. By sharing my story and embracing vulnerability, I love myself exactly as I am, each and every day, for perhaps the first time since I was a child.  

To add more to my story, I am not sure of many people know that I worked as a case manager for over a year in Brookings, South Dakota before my current job with Lost&Found. What I learned in that year is quite possibly more than I’ll ever learn in my entire life.  

I helped clients in every aspect of their life, from figuring out their next meal to figuring out how to pay their electricity bill to getting help with medical care and medical insurance.  

My heart was too big for this job too, because although I made a huge difference in the one year I worked as a case manager, I took all of their homes home with me and really had a hard time leaving it at the office door. I did begin to learn how to help and make a boundary between their problems and the problems I bring home with me. But I knew I needed a change for my mental health, and Lost&Found was/is the perfect fit. (If you know someone that is a social worker or therapist of some sort, make sure to show you appreciate them each and every day, because those workers are some of our true heroes that even our nurses and doctors lean on in the hospital to follow through with care and discharge plans.)  

What I want to get out is that with some work, your weaknesses or struggles can become your strengths. Your career path and future might not look like what you had envisioned—it might just actually turn out much better. 

   

What resources have helped you to address this challenge? 

Therapy is something we all should take part in. Whether short term or long term, it can help when we are doing okay and when we are experiencing poor mental health. I was in an okay place, but I wanted to be in an even better place. I went to five therapy sessions in Sioux Falls, and I absolutely loved it.  

  

 Based on your experience, how can we work to build resilience in ourselves, our loved ones, and in our communities to better face life’s challenges? 

I think it starts with learning healthy coping mechanisms and sharing those mechanisms with close friends and family. It is also important to teach our children how to work through their emotions and life’s difficulties.  

  

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand? 

It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t stay there. Bad times doesn’t mean it’s a bad life. Perspective is everything.