What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I have dealt with depression, anxiety, and bipolar 2 disorder since I was in middle school. Throughout my education, I have had periods in which my depressive phases last longer than normal or hit a little harder due to the level of stress I am under.
One of my depressive phases during my LPN program really took a toll on my day-to-day life and my academic career. Every little thing I needed to complete on a normal day-to-day basis felt like it was too much to handle. The thought of even taking a shower felt overwhelming. My professors reached out because I had missed a few classes, and I had started to get behind on my assignments. I normally have a multitude of different tactics I use to prevent myself from spiraling too far down the rabbit hole, but this time those techniques didn’t work. I was emotionally all over the place.
At first, I was embarrassed to ask for help or even admit I was struggling. Once my professors reached out to Jessi, the school counselor, I figured it was time to get help before my academic career suffered. I finally called my provider after two weeks of severe depression and notified him of my recent issues. He decided to increase some of dosages of medication and schedule a few extra appointments to check in with me. After that, I met with Jessi weekly to help keep me accountable, and if I didn’t show up to my appointment, she would text me to check in. All of my resources stayed in contact with each other to ensure I was getting everything back on track.
Looking back now, had it not been for all my resources, I could have failed out of the program. Fast forward a year, and I am now finishing my RN degree. Although I still have days where I don’t feel 100%, having those resources in my corner helps me feel better prepared to combat the bad days.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
I was able to reach out to Lake Area Technical College’s campus counselor. Jessi was able to meet with me on a weekly basis until I felt I was in a better place. Jessi was also able to communicate with my professors to ensure a judgement-free zone while I worked through my depressive episodes. I also worked with Dr. James Chiu from Sioux Falls, S.D., to adjust my medications to a dose that worked better for the time being. During my depressive episodes, I kept in contact with Heidi, my vocational rehabilitation specialist. She was able to help advocate for my situation with LATC and provide an extra sounding board when I needed to talk. My biggest resource was my family. They helped get me up and moving on days that I had no motivation. They encouraged me to get outside and took time out of their days to remind me someone cares.
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?
There are bound to be days where we don’t feel 100%. It is important to recognize our emotions, process why we feel that way, and make a plan for how to handle those emotions in the future.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. An empty lantern won’t provide light. Self-care is the fuel that lets your lantern glow brightly.