What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
On January 6, 2022, I was at work with a client. I had my Apple Watch on so I could feel that my phone was ringing repeatedly. This was unusual, so I checked my watch and saw that it had been my husband. I excused myself to check my phone and received a text from my husband that my 19-year-old son, Collin, texted into his place of work that he was not coming in because he was going to kill himself. My husband was already on his way to my son’s house. I left work immediately and began to drive toward it, thinking that we would get Collin, take him to hospital for some help and maybe have him move back home. As I got closer and closer, the fear of the worst gripped me. When I turned on his road, I saw the ambulance. There are not words to describe this terror. My husband came running out and met me outside. Through my screaming I realized he was gone. He had died by suicide.
I have experienced trauma before, as I served in the military for 20 years. This was like nothing I could have imagined. It was like a sharp cut through the fabric of what my life was. It impacted every realm of my life. I felt heavier, physically and emotionally crushed, changed forever.
As I move forward down this new path, I try to carry both the grief and hope. My hope is that I find new purpose in this life to use my wonderful son’s memory to help others through this, or more importantly, to help in the prevention.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
When I was still at my son’s house on the day of his death, Bridget from the Front Porch was there with support and resources. I attend the Front Porch support group and try to attend other gatherings with people who have experienced the same thing. This has been critical in helping me see beyond my present moment to how it might look for me after a few years. This support is essential to the hope that I carry.
I went to see a mental health counselor as soon as I could get in and continue with this as well. Through therapy we discovered that it was important that I continue to engage and say “yes” to opportunities and activities that might eventually bring joy, connection, or relief. This can be something like agreeing to go hiking with a friend or agreeing to submit my story here. Along with this mental health care, I also see my provider for medication to help me with the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
I reached out to friends, and I continue to call on them when I need to. I have requested from everyone I am close to that we talk about Collin as much as we can.
I focus on self-care a lot. I feel a lot better when I am able to work out, journal, read, and spend time with my dogs daily. My most important self-care goal is getting enough sleep. I can see a big difference in my coping skills when I am tired versus when I am well-rested.
I am working toward getting involved with helping others, as this can be very healing.
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 the sooner we build support for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities the better off we are. So that when someone does start to feel down, alone, or unsafe, they have people to reach out to AND feel comfortable doing so. The more wellness that exists upstream of a crisis, the better.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
It is possible to carry pain, grief, etc., while also carrying hope and joy. We can live fulfilling, meaningful lives without feeling like we need to “fix” these difficult parts of us. And there is support out there. Reach out!