What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for around six years, brought on by a high-stress job and a drive to achieve that manifests in never feeling like I’m enough. I’ve learned to overcome these challenges with various resources and lifestyle changes, and I’ve grown in so many ways as a result.
When I had my first child, Josie, in 2020 in the middle of COVID-19, I found that not only would I continue to battle my anxiety and depression, but I was also thrown into the tornado that is postpartum depression and anxiety. I climbed my way out, however, and went on to continue to grow and thrive.
Two years later, I found myself in the middle of moving from Hettinger, ND to Pierre, SD, switching careers, and managing major health issues with my daughter Josie and myself (including gallbladder removal at 30 weeks pregnant). When I went into preterm labor at 33 weeks the night after moving the remainder of our belongings from Hettinger to Pierre, I began the most challenging mental health battle of my life. Caring from afar for a toddler who couldn’t understand why mommy and daddy disappeared for over a month was heart-wrenching, and her mental health tanked. Spending time in the NICU in the midst of a move and career change for over a month was almost more than I could handle. And the postpartum anxiety and depression that overwhelmed me when I finally arrived home with my family, all of us shaken to our core, nearly broke me.
I persevered, however, and am now thriving with two healthy babies and a happy family in my hometown. The journey to get here, though, was the toughest thing I’ve ever experienced.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Having a mom support group of friends who were also moms was immensely helpful. In addition, I accessed counseling and medications, and I had an OBGYN who was an AMAZING advocate for mental health care postpartum for both moms and dads.
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?
People need to see the people who are seemingly happy and successful sharing their vulnerabilities and the steps they’ve taken to better themselves. Without that exposure, people will continue to believe mental health care isn’t for them. In addition, rural access to mental health care is atrocious, and the fact that health care costs could ever be a deterrent for people pursuing mental health services is a gross injustice in the system of mental health and healthcare in general. We need people brave enough to share their journey (which is why this project is AMAZING, and I’ve thought so since its inaugural year), communities willing to invest innovatively to ensure services are available, and systemic change that ensures affordability of services that are vital to survival for many.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
Mental health care is for everyone, and everyone can benefit from therapy. Connect with a counselor now so when the days are dark and getting out of bed is hard you’re not having to seek someone out and overcome the obstacles of the system. Having a relationship established when you’re OK makes reaching out and getting help when you’re not OK SO much easier.