Suzanne’s father died when she was 9 years old; he was the parent she was closest to. As a young child, she didn’t comprehend death and thought he would return. And of course, he never did. This is her earliest memory of what depression felt like.
Wanting more for herself
Throughout her childhood, Suzanne was sad. She had low self-esteem and no friends. As she got older, her sadness grew deeper, and she thought life wasn’t worth living. She experienced years of self-harm and suicide attempts.
With deep-held wounds, Suzanne didn’t think anyone could help her. But, she also wanted something more for herself. After a suicide attempt, she was referred to WellPower. While she agreed to treatment, she remembers it was not easy. For many years she believed her medication was doing nothing — she said she was in denial.
“I was diagnosed with bipolar and depression and at some point, I told myself I had to commit to treatment because I wanted my life to be different,” commented Suzanne. “I didn’t know how that was going to happen, but I wanted a better life and committing to WellPower is what changed everything.”
Finding a place where she belongs
Suzanne had seen many therapists in her life, and she said it was different when she came to WellPower.
“Staff here looked out for me, they showed concern and genuinely wanted to help me,” said Suzanne. “That resonated with me and made me feel like I belonged. I knew this is where I could feel secure and get the most help.”
She also learned a lot about suicide and how to keep herself safe.
“Deep down I was crying out for help and everyone at WellPower was so supportive and willing to work with me; no one gave up on me,” she remarked. “I also realized mental illness is not something I am, it is something I suffer from, and I always thought it was the other way around.”
When she made that connection, she realized medication and therapy did help. The right mindset gave her hope and without hope, her suicidal ideation would return.
In 2015 Suzanne was diagnosed with uterine cancer. With the help of her therapist, she made it through her cancer treatment and has been in remission for eight years.
As someone who has experienced both mental illness and cancer, Suzanne commented on the stigma that still plagues behavioral health.
“My family didn’t think there was anything wrong with me for a long time,” commented Suzanne. “Everyone understands cancer, but if you say you are mentally ill, then people look at you like you have two heads.”
At age 71, Suzanne said the past three or four years have been the best in her life.
“I have been able to take mental illness and turn it on its side so I can be a better person, and part of that is being mentally secure and okay with myself,” she said. “I might be a statistic if not for WellPower; I might have died by suicide and I am blessed and honored to be part of WellPower.”
If you are experiencing a crisis, please contact the Colorado Crisis Services to access a trained counselor via phone, 844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 or visit a walk-in clinic. Visit www.coloradocrisisservices.org for more information.