What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I lost my daughter Brittany to suicide in 2016 after a long battle with mental health. She was an all-American girl—she was at the top in sports and grades. She also had depression and anxiety. She was very focused on performance, which as a perfectionist hindered her mental health.
She was very willing to get help. My family and I fought for her, and she was in and out of treatment for multiple years. Sadly, there weren’t enough resources and support at the time—not enough research to save her.
Immediately after her suicide, I went into a deep form of grief and didn’t realize. It looked like caretaking in that moment and for a long time after. I didn’t take care of myself because I was focused on taking care of others, so they didn’t go through what I went through. Now I prioritize self-care. Grief changed me, because it’s complicated and doesn’t go away. Learning to take care of myself allowed me the perspective needed to take care of others.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Community, family, friends, our hockey family, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I now serve as the board chair for the South Dakota chapter. I have taken my tears and turned them into armor to help others find resources for mental health, support other loss survivors, support others with lived experience, and work with nonprofits locally and nationally to help fund research, education, advocacy, and loss support.
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?
Resilience is not always something we can see in ourselves, especially when we need it the most. Building it into our communities and support systems for others and finding the right support for one another when it’s needed is the bases of the best support for mental health. The sooner we can show children, teens, and young adults how to find resilience in their communities, the sooner they learn how to find it within themselves, too.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
Depression can look different for everyone.