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

I was introduced to the word suicide at age 13. A good friend of mine came to me about a “suicide pact.” Being so young, still so naïve to what the world had in store for my life, I agreed. Talking about how sad we were and making these plans it almost felt like planning a play date, not our final moments. The day we had chosen was set for two days before our very first day of high school. I had then changed my mind, still treating this plan so lightly and not seriously, I asked her over and over on social media for her to let us at least go to one day of school, but her mind was set. I don’t think at age 13 I knew the severity of “death.” Final was something I don’t think I could nor can I still wrap my brain around. That crisp September morning, I woke up to a phone call. She was gone. She left without me. To this day I carry around the guilt of not telling anyone. If only I would have done something. I felt like such a coward for staying. She left this world alone, and I will live with that forever.

Losing her changed my life in so many ways. After that my mental health spiraled downward. I was put on anti-depressants and played roulette with psych meds, trying to find something that worked. I have attempted suicide three times.

At age 22, I got pregnant with my son and lost him at 23 weeks pregnant. I delivered him unexpectedly alone, at home. After two blood transfusions and two surgeries, I developed a highly addictive relationship with narcotics, which lead me into the next six years living life in addiction. During one detox off of opiates I got desperate and graduated to methamphetamine. At this point I had developed schizophrenia on top of my already diagnosed anxiety, manic depression (with suicidal ideations and tendencies), ADHD, dissociative disorder, and an eating disorder (body dysmorphia).

I have had three substance abuse treatment stays. For the last one, I was away from home and my two daughters for 4 months. I will celebrate 3 years clean and sober on January 2, 2022.

I still battle my mental health struggles daily. However, every day I am dedicated to taking care of myself and my mental health as well as helping others. Three months ago, I achieved a goal I have had since I was a junior in high school—I finally got myself into a spot mentally and physically where I applied to become a crisis counselor for the crisis text line. After a long submission and them contacting references, I was accepted! It has been an amazing feeling to give back to the same places that helped me pull through some of my darkest days. I want people to know it’s okay to not be okay, and there is hope and help out there. You matter. Your story matters. SO STAY.

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

The support and family I have built around me. My resilience and strength to keep pushing on. Podcasts and Ted talks. A couple mental health mentors along the way.

 

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?

Shame dies when stories are told in safe places. Bottom line, we need to be making places more “talk” or “open door” friendly. There needs to be more educational tools given to certain work fields. We need to be teaching our children about healthy coping skills, rather than pretending it won’t happen or thinking if we bring hard subjects up to our kids that maybe it’s planting a seed in their heads to do those things. Stopping the stigma that kids should be seen and not heard. We need support groups for all ages in grief, dual diagnosis, etc.

 

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

This too shall pass. Do not make a permanent decision for a temporary problem. What you feel now is not a forever feeling. And there’s hope and help out there. Everyone’s story matters, and tomorrow wouldn’t be the same without you in it.