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Victoria Penny

“Create a culture of openness and acceptance in your home. Acknowledge neurodivergencies and offer aid.”
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City: From Michigan—currently in Seattle

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

At age 12, I was diagnosed with atypical depression, but I wasn’t prescribed medication until I was 23. For those 11 years, I fought to stay alive. I self-harmed for most of that time and attempted suicide once at age 15. I drank recklessly from 15 to 21 and was in an abusive (emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual) relationship from 16 to 21. The decision not to have me on medication was my parent’s choice, out of fear of the black box warnings for consumption under 18. When I got my own insurance, it didn’t cover mental health, and I couldn’t afford it. I dealt with daily intrusive thoughts and consistent nightmares. When I was 22, I had nightmares for 13 straight weeks. That was the cue for my new therapist to prescribe me medication. Soon after, they diagnosed me with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, adult attention deficit disorder, and (again) severe atypical depression.  

At age 22, I finally came out as a lesbian, and realized that holding that in was having detrimental effects on me. Yes, things got better, but there was no magic fix or magic pill. I had to actively combat the urge to end my life and pull myself out of the dangerous situations that I was in.  

My mental health isn’t perfect, and I am still on medication and seeing a therapist regularly. My last self-harm was 3 months ago, and while I’m doing well now, I know that mental health is an uphill battle. I am now married to an incredible partner, have an excellent job, and loving pets. At age 27, I can honestly say that I didn’t expect to live this long. I never expected to see life beyond 21, and all that it entails. 


What resources have helped you to address this challenge?  

Therapy sessions regularly. Finding medications that work for me. 

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? 

Create a culture of openness and acceptance in your home. Acknowledge neurodivergencies and offer aid. 

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

It is so much more common than you think. 

In crisis?

Call or text 988.

Building resilience one life at a time


The Lost&Found Association came to life in 2010 thanks to a team of soon-to-be college students committed to making a difference in the lives of peers struggling with depression and suicide.

Today, Lost&Found is a growing education and advocacy nonprofit that serves students on 15 college campuses, offering resilience-building programming and connecting students in need with support communities.