City: Sioux Falls, S.D.
What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
About 10 years ago I went through a painful divorce that led me to think some pretty unhealthy thoughts. I was between jobs, only saw my kids for a fraction of the time I used to from being separated, and I felt so isolated. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel as additional challenges came my way. I remember going through this dark time, and it was hard to get out of bed.
All seemed hopeless.
But when I stopped to consider my thoughts and possible actions, I began to realize how selfish my thinking was, and that if my unhealthy thoughts turned to actions, my very young daughters would be left without a father to help them in life. My actions would result in a downstream catastrophe that I did not want to be a part of. My daughters deserved better than that.
I soon realized that my current situation was not something I would allow myself to be identified with. There was hope the whole time—I just wasn’t looking hard enough. There was more life for me to be a part of.
I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and to put others first. I renewed my faith, started going to church and even volunteered my time at church so I could think less about poor me and instead focus on how I could help others. I also started journaling.
As you might expect, life did get better. A few years later I met an amazing woman and soon-to-be stepmother, and I can put the past behind me. Today I’m in a much better place where I am still a work in progress, but still progressing and still growing, even at 54.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Journaling was a big resource for me. Faith and stoicism were other resources I turned to. Some therapy was also involved. I may get a tattoo of the Stoic phrase Amor Fati (lover of fate). It is the embrace of your fate, even if things go bad, because we learn from our mistakes and failures. If we see past failures as learning times, then we can come out on the other side a better person.
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?
We can work to build resilience when we remember our loved ones over ourselves and what we have to contribute, regardless of how worthless we may think we are at times. Sometimes we have to be beyond ourselves, which isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it in the end. Put reminders up (like tattoos) to remind yourself of where you’ve been and where you want to go!
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
You are not a failure. Failure is an event that you experienced.
Call or text 988.
The Lost&Found Association came to life in 2010 thanks to a team of soon-to-be college students committed to making a difference in the lives of peers struggling with depression and suicide.
Today, Lost&Found is a growing education and advocacy nonprofit that serves students on 15 college campuses, offering resilience-building programming and connecting students in need with support communities.