What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life. I didn’t grow up in a family that talked about our mental health, and I was always encouraged to ignore my struggles. When I was in college, I became actively suicidal and knew it was time to reach out for help. I was able to connect with a therapist and a doctor who both prescribed life-changing medications for me and helped me through therapy for the very first time. That experience helped me understand the importance of not only taking care of myself, but of seeking help from professionals. I decided to enter a career in mental health myself. I finished my master’s degree in mental health counseling at my alma mater and moved to Sioux Falls where I landed in a job where I had the opportunity to counsel young women, many teenagers, who were mothers for the very first time. That experience shaped my entire professional career: my heart is with women and children, and everything I’ve done professionally in the past 20 years can be traced back to those early experiences in the mental health field.
When I was 29 years old, I became pregnant with my daughter. I didn’t fully understand the impact of postpartum depression and anxiety until I experienced it myself. Once again, I experienced suicidal ideation and serious bouts of depression. However, this time I knew where and how to ask for help. I was able to find a therapist in Sioux Falls who helped me cope with my depression and attach to my daughter in a healthy way. I’m the mother I am today because of her guidance and support.
My own experiences with depression and anxiety have helped me be a better support to others. That being said, my kids and I would not be where we are right now—happy, healthy, and thriving—without the support of mental health professionals and lifesaving medications. Please don’t be afraid to seek help.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
My primary care doctor was critical in connecting me to the right medication for me.
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?
By both asking for help when we need it and helping others when they ask for help.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
Medication doesn’t change your personality. It provides balance.