It’s no secret to those who know me that I’ve been itching to get back to school. A few years ago, I tried out Seattle’s Art Institute, intending to earn a Bachelor degree in baking (yes, you can do that), but was cut short due to hardships in my life. At the time it seemed utterly devastating to me, but as time passed and the wound healed, I realized that baking is more of a hobby than anything.
One of the issues I’ve noticed in my community for the last dozen years or so is that slowly, the mental health programs are creeping away. Except now, it’s not such a slow decline as it is a rapid decline in education, in funding, and in the programs themselves. There is a lack in trained mental health employees (because there is no funding available to pay more than the bare bones essentials, and even then their salaries are minimal), and the issue has gotten so bad, that the state has had to step in and take over a lot of programs due to a lack of community funding.
Looking around from the middle of this crisis, it’s as if everyone wants to simply deny that problems exist at all in this beautiful utopia! You can’t simply place a band-aid over a deep gash and cross your fingers, hoping the situation will get better. No, that is how life-threatening infections begin, and we’re seeing that here in Curry County right now. Many life saving programs have been swept away, leaving thousands of people without treatment that they desperately need. This is very sad, especially since the epidemic not only affects those with inadequate care, but the tax payers, local/county/state government, children, families – the community at large. It affects each one of us! We’ve seen an increase in crime, in child abuse, in homelessness, in poverty and in frustration among the general population. Many people are wondering who is going to stop the madness, yet what has been forgotten is that we are all responsible for what is happening. Each one of us has a responsibility to contribute to the solution. Are we willing to step up and do what we can to make a difference? I am.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
In my teenage years, I was severely depressed. At age 14 I was prescribed Prozac to manage symptoms of depression and PTSD. It was 1998 and medical professionals did not know then what they know now. The Prozac caused me to become almost immediately suicidal, and a few months later, I had my first suicide attempt. I was 15 years old, thinking I had nothing left to live for. Praise the good Lord that He has had other plans for me and I survived! My psychiatrists and other mental health professionals adjusted my medications for the next eight years, through two more suicide attempts, and psychotic behaviors I’d never exhibited before taking psychotropic medications (yet were now controlling my life and seriously depleting my quality of life). Finally, at age 22, I’d had enough and I begged my psychiatrist to remove me from all medications.
What I learned through my own journey to health and healing is priceless. For years I was angry with “the system” and I wanted to lash out and scream and yell at everyone who’d ever made a mistake, but now I realize that it wasn’t a mistake and screaming and yelling will not change anything for the better. Instead, I’m going to embrace who I am today. I’m going to stand up and thank those that worked so hard to help me, and I’m going to fight to get them what they need to do their job. I’m going to share my experiences, because they’re valuable! Most of all, I’m going to make sure that I’m in a position to extend compassion, empathy and healing to everyone in my path, because that is exactly what I have needed. I know firsthand how long the road can feel when overcoming the obstacle of poor mental health.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Recently, I was encouraged to embrace my dream of working within the mental health field, so I jumped on the chance to research the steps. I found that Walden University has a top-notch Psychology program, all the way up to Ph.D! I’m now enrolled and will begin school in just a few short weeks. I am really excited! One of the first assignments I was given prior to entering classes was to write a short committment statement about why I had enrolled in Walden U., what I hope to accomplish, and state my level of committment to completing the program. I’ve already shared my personal committment statement with my closest friends and family, but I want to share it here with all of you as well. My hope is that as I share my own journey into giving back to my community, it will inspire and encourage you to do the same. If you’re already actively involved in community outreach, then my prayer is that this will encourage you to continue persevering through every obstacle.
Here it is, my personal committment statement:
I, Mandy T., am committed to improving the lives of my family, my community at large and myself by dedicating the next 8 years of my life to higher education at Walden University. It is my dream to see an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center in Curry County, Oregon. Currently, there is not one and many people with addictions are simply labeled as repeat offenders and locked away in jails and rare state hospital beds, as the local and state government is overwhelmed, understaffed, and low on funds to properly care for those who desperately need help.
With God’s help, I will complete a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and continue moving forward in my studies until I have completed a Ph.D in Psychology, earning the privilege of serving and giving back to the community that raised me into the woman I am today. I know that there will be struggles that I will have to overcome, but my God is bigger and I am not a quitter.
While I am in school, I will continue to pray for my community, and to support the efforts to bring in more money and awareness towards the needs of my community, especially in regards to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
I start school on December 2nd and I will greatly benefit from your prayers! It is not in my strength, but in Christ’s that I move forward.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9