Patients visit Jefferson Center’s walk-in crisis center for various reasons. Some are experiencing suicidal thoughts, and others may be facing an onslaught of stress and trauma. Kiyo had been on and off medications for years and was at the end of her rope. Having suffered a long history of issues with substance use, her mother forced her out of their house, and Kiyo’s anxiety rose after moving in with her father.
This was not the first time Kiyo had been confronted with mental health issues in the midst of parental divisions and struggles.
When she was 10, her parents divorced, and she was enrolled in court-mandated therapy sessions, through which her therapist diagnosed Kiyo with depression. Following additional counseling, she was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
After receiving services from the walk-in crisis center, she was admitted to an inpatient clinic for a brief time before continuing therapy and medications as an outpatient. During this period, Kiyo saw a slow but gradual change. One of the most impactful, positive changes came from being prescribed the correct medication, specifically switching from bipolar to anti-psychosis meds. She stopped self-harming and committed to being sober, now sustaining her sobriety for over six years. Kiyo describes this behavioral and outlook adjustment almost as “waking up”—the beginning of the next phase of her life. She is now enrolled in school, and she lives independently, which has made a significant difference in improving her mental health.
Kiyo has now been with Jefferson Center for seven years. In addition to receiving counseling and therapeutic resources, she has found major help in the wellness classes offered by the Center, particularly lessons with regard to managing depression as well as yoga programs and a writing group. Her long-term goals include finishing college and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, and following that even a Master’s degree. She loves to research and has dreams of staying in academia and becoming a professor, possibly even studying quantum physics.
“Sometimes all it takes is just one moment of clarity.”
Having endured similar circumstances, Kiyo sympathizes with those who may be hesitant or doubtful about seeking mental health treatment, but she says that help is worth it, and to get started sometimes all it takes is just one moment of clarity. And even at that moment, you are going to need to continuously push yourself to get care. Go back again and again and commit to it, even if things get hard because things will likely be hard, especially in the beginning.
“You are not your diagnosis,” Kiyo says. It is what her therapist consistently tells her, and it’s true. Part of the benefit of receiving mental health treatment, particularly group therapy, is knowing other people have faced similar experiences and feel similar emotions to your own. She appreciates the variety of resources offered by community mental health centers like Jefferson Center. They demonstrate acceptance toward a large, diverse population of people. Even projects such as the client-focused annual Art of Hope Calendar, which Kiyo has been featured in multiple times, provide unique, artistic outlets for therapy and self-expression.
Has your life improved because of mental health treatment? Do you wish to use your experience to help others?
Sharing your experiences with mental health treatment can help others who are struggling, and it can help fight the stigma of seeking mental health care.
You can remain anonymous.
For more information, please email VoicesOfHope@jcmh.org.