Faces of Mental Health | Kaitlin

At the time, I was working on
prerequisites for nursing school. So I was going to school four days a week
and then I was working three days a week. And my family found out that my brother
was dealing with a drug addiction. Then on top of that, I was just
having like extreme anxiety. I was dealing with periods of insomnia. I was feeling anxious all the
time, just like heart racing, not much of an appetite. And the way I dealt with it
was just to throw myself into work and school and then isolate myself from
other people. Because if you isolate yourself from other people, then you
don’t have to explain what’s going on. And addiction and anxiety is definitely
there’s an element of shame and that makes you want to not share your story
and gratified from the world. And I thought that treatment for this would be–
I put a lot of it on my brother. I thought if he got clean, if he went to
treatment once and for all, and he stayed, clean then my anxiety would get better,
and that’s not how it works. When I really started focusing on myself and
managing my own symptoms that’s when things started to get better. But started
from the root of dealing with feeling isolated and lonely. I instead
like finally started to connect to people around me, with close friends that
I trusted. I also started going to therapy. As I became more comfortable
talking about it and less embarrassed, I was able to connect with more and more
people. And then a lot of that also came when I started school here at Samuel
Merritt. I was lucky and kind of fell into a
community of really supportive people. I never really felt like I had to hide
this part of my story or part of my family’s story, and that has been very
helpful and this program and becoming a nurse has kind of fueled my passion for
wanting to do this. As a nurse, you get to connect with people every day. And I also
have a particular interest in public health and community health. I’m very
focused on the harm reduction model, and practicing from that point of view, and
teaching other nurses and nursing students about that. I guess when I
started thinking about how I wanted to share this story, I was really careful
not to share my brother’s story for him. And through doing that I realized that
this is not just one person’s story. This might be your sibling. This might be your
child or your parent. We know that this is something that our community deals
with. These are our patients. And I think it’s just important to remember that
there is help for this. There is treatment and a lot of that starts with
talking about it so that we don’t feel as shameful about the disease

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