A Personal Note on Mental Health4 min read
We are all going through such a tough time right now. Some of us have lost everything, escaping the fire with only the clothing on our backs. Others had the good luck to return to homes still standing – but then realized what a massive undertaking it would be to get back to “normal”, and that maybe life in Superior is never going to be the same. Whether it’s the loss of our homes and possessions or the loss of our confidence and security, we are all going through a grieving process that is going to have many, many ups and downs.
Tonight I wanted to share with you something kind of personal. I’ve always been public about my feelings on the importance of therapy, but what most people don’t know about me is that I’ve suffered from depression. There were days when I struggled to get out of bed, and days where I thought that life would never get better. This tragic fire has certainly not helped my mental state – and I know many of you are experiencing similar feelings of hopelessness. I wanted to tell you this so you know that you aren’t alone.
Today our Board received a letter from the Aurora City Council; it said: “Through our own experiences, we understand that the impacts of tragic events are long-lasting and hard to heal. To our friends, colleagues and neighbors in Superior and Louisville, it is from your community’s strength, unity and selflessness that healing and recovery take root. Be quick to reach out for help, watch out for others’ struggles and ways you can lift them up, and look for stories of resolve and resiliency.”
I know that these times can feel desperate, and awful, and lonely. Not only are we struggling through the destruction of our community, but we are doing it in the midst of a global pandemic, as our mental strength is already sapped. Please, be kind to yourself. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to mourn. Some days may be good days, and other days you may not know if you can keep doing it anymore. But it will get better, little by little. There is light in the darkness and there is hope for our future.
We still don’t have answers for what the coming days, weeks, and months might look like. As someone who is such a type-A planner that I even have a Thanksgiving spreadsheet, that uncertainty makes me really anxious. We are all feeling anxiety, stress, and grief at what we’ve lost and what we must endure to recover… but we will recover, and we will rebuild stronger than before.
If you need help, don’t keep it to yourself. Reach out – to a friend, to a neighbor, to a mental health professional, or even to a stranger you see walking down the street. Sometimes it can be easier to talk to someone you don’t know. But don’t be ashamed to feel what you feel. We are all processing this in different ways, and whatever you are feeling, it’s valid. Everyone needs support at some point, and it doesn’t make you a hero to try to weather the storm on your own. Take what you need and take care of yourself first, so that you can be a hero by helping others.
Maybe you’ve never seen a therapist before, and didn’t think you needed one. I was lucky enough to start seeing a therapist a long time ago, who I can go years without seeing but then call when the tough stuff hits, and I’m constantly amazed by the insight she’s provided even when I have thought things weren’t that bad, and I could get through it on my own. If you don’t know where to start, the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people like us who are experiencing emotional distress related to disasters; closer to home, ColoradoCrisisServices.org offers free professional counseling to all Coloradans via phone, text, or walk-in. And if you are in dire circumstances, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. All of these are completely free, and completely appropriate for you to be calling even if you’re not sure what support you need.
If none of that feels like a good plan, drop me a line and I can help you navigate all the available resources. I want to help, and I want you to know I’m here for you. It will get better, and we will get through this together.
Thank you for your transparency and for your excellent advice!