What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
Growing up, I struggled with various eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, and depression. By my senior year in high school, I sought my first counselor for exercise bulimia. She and I were not a good fit, so I wrote off therapy after about five sessions. When I graduated from high school, I moved away to college in Bozeman, Montana. I struggled with intrusive thoughts, withdrew from classes, and returned to Sioux Falls. I voluntarily checked myself in to treatment. In treatment I was assigned a psychiatrist and therapist and was prescribed an antidepressant for the first time. I continued therapy for a few sessions after I was discharged, but ended them pretty abruptly when my therapist told me that my depression was merely situational from my breakup with my high school boyfriend.
I took a year off from school and then re-enrolled in a new field. After beginning school again, I sought out a new therapist and began weekly (even twice weekly) sessions. Fortunately, we were a good fit. However, my depression really came to a head while I was in school to become a respiratory therapist. I was balancing multiple jobs, being a full-time student in a medical field, a relationship, and a variety of extra activities. One day, I just couldn’t take the pressure anymore. I woke up from a “failed” suicide attempt, involuntarily checked into treatment. I woke up angry and confused and just wanted to be out of the institution. After I came out of my stupor, I decided that I woke up for a reason, and I needed to figure that out.
I returned to school after explaining the situation to my professors, and I graduated that May. A few weeks later, I left town and ventured out on the Pacific Crest Trail to try and re-find myself. Now, four years later, I still work on my mental health every day. But I can honestly say that I’ve become someone strong and resilient enough to be in a healthier place that I’d never imagined, wanting to live life every day.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Consistent therapy, medication (initially), holistic medicine, creating and utilizing a strong and loving support system
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?
Be a kind person, and when and if you’re in a healthy enough mindset, offer your story in vulnerable moments with the people who may benefit. You never know what someone is going through. Kindness and pure intentions, along with eliminating the idea that the not-so-pretty parts of someone’s life are “taboo,” go a long way in making someone feel like they’re not alone.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
Everyone has a story with struggles that are unique to them. You’re not a burden for asking for support throughout your journey.