What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I had a pretty ideal childhood growing up. My parents and my brothers are great, but for some reason, I had a lot of anxiety. I fought depression, struggled with my weight, and excelled at overthinking just about everything. This stayed with me all throughout my life. A lot of this came to a crucial point in 2016-17. My wife and I were living in Dickinson, ND. We were ready to try and have kids. Unfortunately, thus far we have been unsuccessful. This hit us very hard. I felt unworthy as a husband. I was scared that my wife would leave me or resent us and our marriage. I should’ve trusted her better, because she is still here and stronger than ever. Anyway, I tried dealing with this, but I wound up burying it under denial, seeking comfort in food. I was depressed but got very good at denying it. In 2018 we moved back home to Rapid City, my hometown. We bought a beautiful home. The depression reared its head again, and the anxiety was worse than ever. You can be blessed beyond your wildest dreams and still feel empty inside. I felt alone, unworthy as a husband with extra bedrooms with no kids of our own. I was anxious all the time. I started to think that if I killed myself my wife could have a chance to start over with someone better. That was the wake-up call. I can tell you how scary it feels to formulate the cleanest method of suicide to not be a burden on your wife.
That’s when I ran to God. I gave my life to Jesus when I was 12 years old. Yet, somehow I found myself here in this place. I wrote a book of poetry that I self-published while battling these thoughts and feelings. It made me see the scripture Jeremiah 29:11 stands true. God desires to prosper us, not to harm us. To give us hope and a future.
I went to church, I confided in my wife, in friends, and men of God that I trust. I went to my doctor here in Rapid City and told her I was anxious all the time. I took anxiety medication to help me change how I approach life, and how I think and treat myself. Since March of 2023, I’ve lost 50 pounds! I have a long way to go, but I’m going. This has been five years of discovery. And reminders that anxiety doesn’t own me, depression doesn’t own me. I am a son of God saved by His Son, Christ Jesus. Starting this fall I am beginning a new journey to go to school to get a degree in counseling. So, if you read this or hear this, don’t give up. You have a purpose and can change someone’s life.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
My doctor prescribed anxiety medication. I also spoke to my wife. Close friends. I also want to mention pastors Jason and Tim Stuen here in Rapid City.
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?
Advertising mental health services so people know where opportunities are. I also want men to feel like it’s okay to admit they’re struggling with anxiety or depression.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
It’s a process. If you or someone you care about deal with mental health issues, it’s a daily exercise. Celebrate good days. Listen and encourage.