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

I think I’ve struggled with some form of depression dating back to my teen years, long before I was diagnosed. Having survived forms of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse growing up, I found it hard to learn how to properly manage my emotions. I was ashamed to discuss what was going on with anyone, so instead I chose to bottle everything. This led me to develop some unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as cutting. I remember feeling so lost and utterly alone. I was blissfully unaware of what a healthy relationship looked like, causing me to enter several toxic relationships. All I knew is that it felt good to be seen.

Most of my past partners suffered from some form of addiction, and me being the “fixer” that I am, I believed it was my job to help them. In doing this, I lost sight of myself. I stopped taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While I knew that everyone has their faults in a relationship, I was conditioned to believe that I was crazy for feeling a certain a way or that things were always my fault. I became very overwhelmed with the situation and fell into a deep depression, causing my work and personal relationships to suffer. Feeling that I had no way out, I attempted to take my own life. Obviously not having been successful, I felt an enormous sense of guilt reaching out for help.

Looking back, I can honestly say that I am so thankful I am still here. Developing a strong support system for me was key, as well as therapy and medication management. Hard times will always exist; I am confident now that I will be able to make it through and know that I don’t need to do it on my own.

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

I developed a support system that I could rely on when I am having dark thoughts, people I could talk to without fear of judgement. Therapy was key for me in order to process some of the emotions that I never really took the time to deal with. I also had to work through my aversion to taking medication and learn that it was ok to do what was necessary to keep me healthy and happy.

 

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?

Making sure alternative resources are out there for people who may not have close friends or family to turn to. Loved ones should not take it personally when they cannot help someone feel better. Instead, just be there for that person in any way they will allow. A little understanding goes a long way and people that seek help want to do so without the fear of being judged.

 

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

No two situations are the same. While someone may have many things to be thankful for, they may still be struggling internally. Never assume someone’s situation, and act with kindness in your heart.