I got into mental health because, long story short, my mom dealt with a mental health crisis.
It was one of the scariest times of my life, and I felt woefully unprepared to deal with it. I had never received education in school about how to support someone dealing with a mental health crisis. And so I made the decisions that felt right at the time. I felt so guilty about it. Thankfully, it all worked out–and my mom is doing better now.
But it was that combination of love for my mother and disgust that I had never learned about this before that sparked something inside of me.
It eventually led me to find the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI
. They do fantastic, grassroots work in the United States and a few other countries to teach people about mental health issues, all while giving support to individuals and family members dealing with them.
Little did I know, even though I ended up teaching classes and running family support groups for NAMI, that I would need their support for myself at one point.
I won’t get into my whole story here, but I also suffered a mental health crisis after having open-heart surgery in 2012.
Something about the surgery broke me. It changed my brain in ways that have have never been fully repaired. Now I have the skills to deal with it, but the time right after the surgery was an onslaught of anxious, depressive, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
In many ways, the system failed me. I was so angry at how broken it all seemed.
Eventually, as I got on the road to recovery, I used the disgust I felt when trying to help my mom, and the anger I felt when trying to help myself, to do something about it.
This, in a nutshell, is how I got into mental health, through pain and misfortune, through searing anger and overwhelming disgust for the status quo.
But, deep down, I know it was already inside of me.
It just needed these events to be brought out and shared with the world.