Lea: The light at the end of my tunnel
The views and opinions expressed in following story are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mental Health Colorado.
I consider myself blessed to be able to share my experience with clients through my role as a peer specialist in hopes of helping them find the light at the end of their tunnel like I found mine.
I was directly impacted by my father’s struggle with major depression and subsequent suicide when I was nine years old. This traumatic loss at such a young age led me down a dark road as I found myself face to face with heavy thoughts and feelings that I can only imagine were similar to my father’s. It scared me because I was too young to understand what these thoughts and feelings were, or what they meant; I had no understanding as to why I felt completely empty inside.
I faced many years with this overwhelming sadness during which I sought both family and individual therapy. As I grew older, it became more complicated. I learned more about who my father was and I grew angry. I learned that I came from a broken family and that my mother suffered severe physical and emotional abuse by the hands of my father when I was just a toddler. There were numerous occasions where my mom, sisters and I had to live in battered woman and children’s shelters throughout my childhood. I do not have a clear recollection of my childhood and have repressed many bad memories and possibly exposure to violence.
Learning this information steered me on a reckless path because I did not know how to manage the anger and sadness that was so deeply rooted within me. I engaged in self-destructive behaviors which included using drugs and alcohol and harming myself – these were my inadvertent ways to cope.
It has been several years since I have engaged in reckless behaviors and I am proud to say that I have come out on the other side. It has been a long road, but I have come to terms with my trauma and have forgiven my father, which was a huge step for me. Through tremendous support from immediate family members, close friends, and my own will to not let my trauma dictate my life and my future, I have made it out alive. Instead of partaking in reckless behaviors, I now choose to focus on school (I am currently enrolled in a Masters of Marriage & Family Therapy Program) and engaging in many outdoor activities such as hiking in the mountains, swimming, and fishing. I also enjoy painting. I utilize these activities as not only hobbies, but positive coping techniques as well.
I have been employed through North Range Behavioral Health since June of 2016, and I consider myself blessed to be able to share my experience with clients through my role as a peer specialist in hopes of helping them find the light at the end of their tunnel like I found mine.
— Lea Powell
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