Tag: stories

Vince Danh 

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

Growing up in a first-generation household, we never shared our feelings or expressed a lot of affection in the traditional Western sense of the term. My parents worked hard to escape war and poverty and to find success in a new country, and they never complained. That set an example of success and stoicism for me that defined a lot of my upbringing.

I spent the majority of my life believing that I shouldn’t express myself, let alone show anything that might be interpreted as weakness. Fitting in meant success, and that meant being perceived as someone who had or at least had the appearance of everything being OK.

My friends knew me as the guy who they could always talk to because I was always level-headed and, in their words, “well-adjusted.” I was the confidante, the one who kept his cool and could help address their own issues and challenges.

However, like an iceberg or a duck floating on the surface, what was unseen was my own inner-self’s struggles. Eventually, things reached a tipping point, and I slipped into a dark place.

I realized that I needed to treat myself just like I treated my friends. The advice that I gave them I also needed to give to myself. “It’s cool to not be cool.” That was the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned—to acknowledge my own challenges and shed the veneer of being OK all the time.  

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

It took a lot of soul-searching, working with a therapist, and acceptance to recognize and overcome my challenges. One impactful read that I recommend to everyone, no matter what their current journey in life, is The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Reverend Desmond Tutu. Working through that book helped me recapture a very important fact that’s been lost in the hustle and bustle of our modern world. Human beings are intrinsically wired to feel and express compassion and joy. Too often we forget that we are joyful creatures by design, and we let doom and gloom cloud that. 

Other things that helped me have been adopting routines and personal activities that are solely for me. I try to adopt or try out a new hobby every couple of months as a fun way to continue growing, but I always acknowledge that there shouldn’t be any pressure or stakes to it other than for my own personal benefit and growth. Sometimes these exploratory hobbies stick and become a lifestyle such as cooking or motorcycling, others like piano might not, but I can look back and still feel good that I gave it a shot. 

 

 

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?

Just as we have an emphasis on physical education in school and professional lives, I believe the same importance needs to be placed on mental education. In 2023, there is no reason why our schools don’t have mental education classes that can help our youth learn how to properly recognize, process, and work through mental and emotional challenges. 

Following up with that, the professional and corporate spaces are making amends to recognize the validity and benefits of promoting positive mental health in the workspace. However, there is still a stigma around mental health that can only be diminished by increasing the availability and access to education. It starts with our generation so that the next can be better off for it.

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

I truly believe that we should treat ourselves like we treat our friends. We give our friends a lot of grace and understanding, and too often short ourselves of that same treatment. Next time we might feel like being hard or critical of ourselves, stop for a moment and just ask if what you want to say to yourself is what you would say to a close friend. 

 

 

Benson Langat 

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

Upon my arrival in America, I was greeted by the frigid embrace of winter, presenting a significant challenge for me as a track athlete. The absence of transportation and friends compounded my difficulties, requiring a rapid outdoor running adjustment. During weekends, when not engaged in competition, I often found myself alone in my apartment, a mile from the nearest grocery store and other essential amenities. I was compelled to traverse the streets day and night on foot. In the absence of classes, isolation became my constant companion, and I began to experience the weight of depression as I grappled with the resettlement process in a foreign land. 

Life became an arduous journey, and in my struggle to cope with the stress and solitude, I turned to overeating, which detrimentally affected my performance as a college athlete. My depression was further exacerbated by a multitude of stressors, including adapting to a new language, the demands of academics, economic challenges, unfamiliar food, and divergent religious practices. 

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

I joined a support group for international students and athletes, providing a sense of community and a space to share your experiences and feelings with others who may be going through similar challenges. I was also paired with a host family, which made everything better. I also kept an open line of communication with my track coach and professors, explaining my challenges and seeking their support or accommodations if needed. I was reminded that addressing these challenges may be an ongoing process, and reaching out for help and support is essential when needed.  

 

 

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?

One of the most damaging aspects of the current system is the stigma associated with mental health issues. People often hesitate to seek help due to fear of judgment. Promoting awareness and acceptance of mental health conditions can help reduce this stigma. Public education campaigns and open conversations about mental health can contribute to this effort. 

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

Many people who struggle with mental health or have suicidal thoughts often suffer in silence due to stigma, fear, or shame. It’s crucial for everyone to recognize that talking openly about mental health challenges is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and courage. Encouraging individuals to share their feelings and experiences without judgment can create a supportive environment where they feel heard and understood. 

 

 

Nichelle Lund 

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

I’ve always struggled with some form of mental health issues, specifically anxiety and obsessive worrying, which would happen very cyclically throughout my childhood and young adult life. Since moving to South Dakota, living so far away from my family and childhood friends, I’ve noticed that I struggle significantly more, less with worrying and more with depressive episodes. Winter has regularly been my downfall, coupled with a physical assault at the beginning of the pandemic (3/20), limited mental health resources, and the idea that “I just need to pick myself up and dust myself off, I can handle this.” 

My “oh shit” moment came on a dreary February morning in 2023. I hit (another) pothole, and I got so angry. I was mad that the pothole wasn’t big enough to swallow my car whole, with me in it, because then at least it wouldn’t be my fault. Shortly thereafter I lost a good friend unexpectedly, and the intrusive thoughts got worse, but always with the tinge of – “as long as it’s not my fault.” I don’t want people to think I did it to myself. I was okay with dying, but I didn’t want to do it. Somewhere along the way, I knew I was in big trouble. March has never been my friend – but this year was particularly bad. I cried every day on the way to and from work with just a heaviness in my chest that I could not escape. 

I smiled, did my job, volunteered, and made sure things in my life got handled, but I was just doing what needed to be done to not show anyone the cracks. I was playing a part in my own life and not owning any of it. I didn’t really care about anything. 

I’ve never asked for anything from family or friends – I offered help and support and was right there when people needed me, or even when I thought they might need me. So when I hit the proverbial “rock bottom” and no one was around to help, I knew I was in trouble. When you’re always the helper, it makes it so much harder to ask for help. 

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

I started out using the BetterHelp therapy app around mid-March. I switched providers a few times trying to find the right fit. I finally found one that was good, but not great. Our sessions were only 30 minutes, and by the time I got into the meat of the issues, the session was over and no solutions were available. She recommended me to a foundation that specialized in helping women who were the victims of violent crimes. They referred me to a local therapist with Moore Counseling Group where I could receive EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing) therapy. This helps me to both process the most recent trauma and desensitize triggers that had been established during childhood and my youth. 

Because of this therapy, I’ve learned that my voice had been stifled, I didn’t have any boundaries, and I didn’t trust anyone to be there for me when and if I asked them to be. I’m learning and healing a little bit more every week.

 

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? 

We have started making mental health a mainstream conversation, and that is SO important. For people to see themselves, their thoughts, feelings, and experiences portrayed in others, so they know they aren’t alone, is a massive improvement from where we were 5, 10, 20+ years ago. 

I think the biggest struggle is buy-in from generations that believe you just need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. The folks that think therapists and counselors are only there to pacify you and collect your insurance money. 

Normalizing mental health is important, but normalizing going to therapy is going to be just as important in the future, which also means beefing up the programs in schools that promote education in that field and the importance of healing from the inside first. 

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

If someone has a single vulnerable moment in front of you and then brushes it off, don’t ignore it. Just because they say “I’ll be fine” doesn’t mean they will. They probably don’t know how to ask for help. That’s not something everyone learns growing up. 

 

Jerry Cook

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

My dad died by suicide just before my fifth birthday. My sister passed away in 2019, potentially suicide-related. I’ve spent most of my life learning, growing, and recovering from loss and suicide loss. 

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

Family, friends, counseling / therapy, research and learning, volunteering & supporting the community, healthy hobbies, art, and music. 

Through doing lots of work on and for myself, I also co-founded MindBodyHeart Pathways with my wife, Dr. Michelle Cook, and we offer coaching, counseling, and psychiatry services in addition to ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. 

 

 

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?

Some of the major hurdles I see are limited access to mental health care and the quality of that care. Additionally, people who do seek help need to be supported rather than looked down upon…we need to help eliminate the stigma. We also need to move away from the thought that life is/should/will be free of challenges. Working through challenging times builds resiliency. 

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

It’s okay to be vulnerable and reach out for help and be open to different types of help. 

 

 

Erika Tordsen 

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

In 2019, my husband Tyler and I were expecting our first baby, due in March 2020. A baby boy. We were over the moon scared, nervous, and everything in between to become parents but excited, nonetheless. Then the pandemic restrictions happened the week I gave birth, so Tyler was the only one allowed in the room for our son’s birth. All of my feelings of excitement and happiness were quickly replaced with uncertainty and sadness. The months that followed our son’s birth were the darkest months of my life. I was a new mom who wasn’t able to have the help of family or friends because we just didn’t know what was going to happen next. Is this new virus going to kill my baby? Is my husband, who has a pre-existing condition, going to die if he gets it? We had so much worry and fear during that time that we never truly got to enjoy being first-time parents and all the joys that come with it.
 

I lost myself in postpartum anxiety and cried every single day for months. Phone calls, FaceTiming, and texting just weren’t enough. I was happiest when I was asleep because I didn’t have to feel all of the worry and fear. I constantly looked on social media and compared myself to other mothers. I felt “less than” because I was struggling, forgotten because no one could come to see us, and cheated because of the pandemic. Fortunately, I have a great husband who was patient with me and understood that I was hurting and struggling. He took care of me and allowed me to feel things without question. During that time, I found a new purpose of being a mother and I wanted to be better for my son. Eventually, I was able to get past the worry and fear, and as we started to learn more about COVID, I could enjoy being just a mama finally. We won’t remember 2020 as the year of COVID-19 but as the year of our son, Emmett. And although it took a while, I was able to feel like myself again, and a year and a half later, our second son was born. He gave me the experience I was supposed to have but both experiences shaped me into the mother I am today and I’m forever grateful for my two boys and my supportive husband. 

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

During the first few weeks after giving birth, my lactation consultant helped with the breastfeeding piece and reassured me that I was doing it correctly because that was a challenge in itself. Since everything was virtual, I reached out to family and friends via phone for support and made a post on my social media, which led to other mothers reaching out. They gave advice and shared their struggles too. After that, I created a Facebook group for moms to be able to ask questions and seek advice from other mothers without judgment or question. I started seeing a therapist who turned out not to be the right fit, so I asked questions and made a switch to my current therapist who is amazing! She is perfect for my needs on the mental health piece of it and also culturally. 

 

 

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? 

I would love to see more awareness about the differences between postpartum depression, anxiety, baby blues, etc. We get pamphlets and words that explain what these are but actually hearing from a mother who experienced this before a mom gives birth would be 10 times more helpful. We are raising the next generation, and it is the hardest job. I wish I had someone to tell me the straight-up truth about how differently I would feel after giving birth. The fourth trimester is the hardest one of them all. 

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

It’s okay to rest and take care of yourself. We live in a society where hustle culture is glorified and if you’re not grinding, you’re failing. It’s not a bad thing to be ambitious and a go-getter, but it’s also okay to take a break, breathe, and reset. 

 

Tamien Dysart 

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

When I was 19 years old, I found myself in a deep, deep depression. Almost everything seemed pointless. I was engaging in activities that ultimately were merely masking the empty feeling I had after a few big life events. Thankfully, I had a daughter at 17 years old, which kept my mind from ever wandering into suicide. However, I remember listening to the ONE song for a two-month stretch as it reflected my mood of “what’s the point of all of this.”

It was at that moment I was invited to go to church with a friend. I thought, why not—as I had nothing to lose. It was that pivotal moment that gave me hope. I found myself being around positivity weekly on Sunday mornings. That helped to elevate my path of discovery: I had worth and began developing purpose, slowly, steadily, surely. That trajectory brought me to a place where I now am impacting thousands of people, living as a testimony of possibilities when you are shown a path to better and make the decision to walk in it, even when we don’t “feel like it.” 

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

Doubling down on personal development. Though it was a longer climb, it built a confidence that putting the work in directly, works. This is a basis for our saying at Think 3D that “A Better YOU Is Better for Everyone,” including yourself. My long haul of reading books, learning, and developing helped to build my mindset to be able to go back and tackle some of the harder issues that put me in a space of dealing with depression and hopelessness. 

 

 

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?

We believe that workplace culture plays a major and significant role in where we’re currently at around this topic, and also is a key area of focus to help provide a better path forward. Given that the average working professional spends between 50-75% of their waking hours around work, when this is less than desirable, it dramatically impacts our ability to work on the other parts of our lives to improve upon mental health. This is besides the direct impact that work often significantly contributes to the mental health challenge. 

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

Everyone’s story is unique and different. Get to understand the backstory before making assessments of others. Be willing to come alongside these individuals once you understand their stories and pour positivity into them. 

 

 

Patrick Murphy

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.

 

 

Jasmin Fosheim

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.