What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
In July 2018, my friend Taylor died by suicide. She had just moved from Sioux Falls to Omaha, and she was struggling. Taylor moved to Omaha for a fresh start; she had lived in Sioux Falls much of her life and was trying to find some answers to some big questions. One day I got a call from a friend, letting me know Taylor was in the hospital in Omaha after a suicide attempt. I knew she was dealing with a lot after her move, but the last time I saw her (Pride in the Park, June 2018), she was optimistic about things turning around. That was the last time I saw her in person, the last time I hugged her. We quickly formed a Facebook group of friends to do what we did best: organize and pool resources. Friends took turns staying with Taylor while she recovered after being home from the hospital. She started some new meds but continued to face financial burdens and identity crises. We sent cards, texts, and snaps, thinking we could keep her afloat from a distance. One night, we realized nobody had heard from her. One friend was coming back from Omaha and another was heading down in a couple of days; we thought we had surrounded her in enough love and comfort to get her through those couple of days alone. In the middle of the night, the police were called to check on her because she wasn’t answering calls or texts. Taylor had left us. That same year, I had my first panic attack and started the same anxiety medication she used to end her life.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Access to affordable medication and healthcare.
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 still don’t know that answer. Talking openly about mental health and how we cope can destigmatize therapy and anxiety/depression medications, encouraging others to seek this help.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
Don’t measure your mental health journey against anyone else’s yard stick.