Jack preferred not to give his last name.
What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. Ever since I was a little guy, I remember obsessing over random things. My mom remembers that I used to have to get up 30 minutes earlier each day to make sure thinks were just right. For example, my socks had to feel perfect.
Fast forward to middle school, and I became obsessed with germs around the time of H1N1. I struggled with that quietly until high school. I also became very school obsessed. I would do homework from the time I got home after school until I went to bed. I would even wake up at 3 a.m. to make sure details were just right. Everything had to be perfect.
Again, I kept this quiet through 9th and 10th grade. I think my parents assumed I was studying extra hard. However, in 11th grade, things worsened. As graduation and college started to get closer, I started not being able to get out of bed. I stopped going to school. My parents were supportive, but I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone else.
I had people from my high school—staff members—tell me I was lazy. People were making fun of me at school. It all felt like too much, and I attempted suicide around Christmas of my junior year.
After my attempt, I told my parents what was going on. I remember listening to them talk about how their insurance would not pay for my treatment, but they decided to pay out of pocket to have me get care at Rogers Memorial Hospital. I was there for a month, and when I came back to school, there were so many rumors. Everything from juvenile detention to cancer.
Eventually I finished high school online, and things have improved since.
I never told anyone but my family and close friends. I was even hesitant to share this today, but if it helps anyone else going through something similar, then I accomplished my goal.
Honestly, the only reason I am where I am today is because of my support system—my friends and family. I realized how much it helps to talk about how I feel—it doesn’t make me less of a person to talk about my mental health, and I am no longer ashamed of having bad days. Today, I am studying to get a master’s in public health. I want to make a difference. If I can help anyone the way I was helped, it would make my entire career worth it.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Friends and family.
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 is important to value personal milestones. Personally, I look back at barely being able to go to high school to graduating with a pre-med degree. During these times, I remember little victories that led to the larger outcome.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
It’s OK to talk about your mental health and your bad days.