What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
We have a painful story of mental health conditions and suicide, yet we fight to find hope, and resilience in our journey. It is difficult to know where to even start . . . we have a history of mental health conditions in our family. For one of my children, his symptoms appeared at the young age of four. Due to his mental health disorders, he was hospitalized several times and eventually admitted to long-term care. It was years of advocating for what was best for him and years of trial and error on medication and therapy. Even though he continues to receive support for his mental health conditions, he is able to use his skills and gifts through working, volunteering, and spending time with others.
My other son did not exhibit mental health conditions until his teens. Instead of properly medicating himself, he began using alcohol and drugs to ease the pain of the deep depression and anxiety that plagued his mind daily. As a result, this created acute mental health problems. He was hospitalized several times for suicide attempts and alcohol addiction, imprisoned for his actions, and lived on and off the streets. Despite his challenges, he was a beautiful and intelligent person who was given the gift of music, which he used to minister to the people on the streets, in jails, and in mental health hospitals. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see the gifts within himself and ended his life February 19, 2020, at the age of 26.
It has been a difficult journey for our family and so many others struggling with mental health conditions. One thing I always told my boys is we must have HOPE on our journey! We want to help others feel that sense of hope too. We created a nonprofit called Journey of Hope. We openly talk about mental health disorders, addiction, and homelessness with the community and involve them in filling a drawstring backpack with basic needs, a new pair of socks, and resource materials to give to the homeless or individuals in social programs to give them hope on their journey.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has been an excellent resource in offering free educational classes as well as family and individual support groups.
The HelpLine Center has been another beneficial resource with their Suicide Hotline as well as their ASIST training for individuals, teachers and groups.
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?
In my opinion, we must continue to educate ourselves, our loved ones, and our community about mental health conditions and suicide. We must involve the community in this process by gaining a greater understanding of one another and how we can help others on their journey.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
There is hope!