What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
Having a lifelong disease takes perseverance, persistence, and an understanding that it’s OK to be not OK. It’s easier in our society to understand physical health more than mental health. Having learned I have bipolar in 2008, I worked very hard with therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and myself to understand how to manage and live with this lifelong disease. I finally got to the point of remission, a thing I didn’t even know was possible with this disease.
I have been a resource and advocate for others by creating a sports association in Sioux Falls. A similar outlet was available in my hometown of Minneapolis and was an invaluable resource. I even became a mental health first aid responder in 2022. With all of that knowledge, experience, and time, I still faltered.
In May of 2023, I saw myself dying by suicide in two vivid scenarios. I did not want this to become a reality, but I forgot everything I knew. I was so busy helping everybody else that I forgot to help myself first. It finally became too much, and I had to ask for help. This time was different, though—I knew that it was OK to not be OK. I had talked about my struggle openly for years, and when I finally succumbed to needing help, I was surrounded by it. I did not feel ashamed this time. I felt as though I was actually doing the right thing. This was my “drink your juice, Shelby” moment, and I was parched.
While at work, I reached out to my manager and a co-worker who led me to the right place. I completed an outpatient intensive therapy program at Avera Behavioral Health and am seeing a therapist at Sanford Health regularly. I still openly talk about my experience(s) to others and am once again able to be a resource for those who need it.
My tunnel has found light again, and I am ready for what’s next.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Avera Behavioral Health (outpatient intensive care program), Sanford therapy, Lost&Found, Sioux Empire Pride Sports Association, 988, co-workers, family & friends.
Think about the system that affects our mental health in our society, including aspects that are damaging to mental health and aspects of the system that improve mental health. Based on your experience, how might we improve that system to build resilience and better address the mental health needs of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities?
I believe that we have come a long way from where we were, but we still have a long way to go. I will do what I can, for as long as I can to speak to the importance of the whole health of individuals. Being silent is the worst thing I can do for others. I will continue to advocate for better coverage, access, and awareness of resources available.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
No matter how dark the road, light will always shine, even if just a flicker. Stay here. You are worth it.