What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I experienced my first panic attack at the age 24 at the beginning of my professional career. As someone in the behavioral health field, I was investing in my clients and my work, striving to ensure individuals were not afraid to reach out and that they had access to the resources they needed, but I was not in turn investing in myself. My mental health continued to decline, and I would go on to experience more panic attacks, debilitating anxiety and depression. I was unable to fulfill my duties at work and home, and my personal relationships were suffering. For so long I operated under the perception that as someone working in the behavioral health field, I was not worthy of therapy, and there were others that needed it more. It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I finally decided to seek help.
Over the next year, through a combination of therapy, medication and prioritizing self-care, I started to feel like myself again, but halfway through my pregnancy with my first child, my anxiety and depression returned, and I felt the lowest I had ever been. As I approach three weeks postpartum, my mental health has continued to wane with the unique challenges faced during this period. Not only am I trying to care for myself, but now my daughter also. During this time, I have come to realize how important it is to continue to prioritize taking my medication daily, engage in self-care, surround myself with support and reach out for help when I need it. Taking care of my mental health takes work every day, and with each day, good or bad, I learn a little more about myself and what I need to cope with my anxiety and depression.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
I accessed mental health services through my Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This was an easy way for me to find a therapist and access services without having to worry about costs of therapy initially.
I found a primary care provider who listened and validated my feelings, and worked with me collaboratively to decide on the best route to treating my anxiety and depression with medication. They have never been dismissive and have always been patient in finding what works best for me.
I was open and honest about my mental health with friends and family. Any time I would share my struggles, I found many would share their own struggles with me in return, allowing us to further dialogue and support one another.
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?
Encouraging open dialogue surrounding mental health, sharing our own personal stories and hope for recovery, in addition to familiarizing ourselves with resources and offering them to those who may need it.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
You are worthy of help.