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Depression: A survivor's story

Lisa Smith is a mother of two teenage boys, a nurse at a Twin Cities hospital and an avid runner. She’s also a survivor. After struggling with depression for many years, Lisa finally got the help she needed at Regions Hospital. Here, she shares her story:

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I am the mother of two teenage boys, I am a nurse and work within a hospital in the Twin Cities area, I have been an avid runner the last five years. Being a nurse, I have struggled through the mental health system as an advocate and as a professional, without ever really stopping to realize that I really needed some help. That I was really struggling with depression.

I grew up in foster homes because my mother has a problem with alcoholism. I struggled with depression on and off during my teen years. I had a suicide attempt when I was 17, and because my foster parents were afraid that I would get removed from their home, they never took me in for treatment.

I was 24 years old when I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. I hadn’t realized how much stress I put myself under managing my blood sugars. I kept telling my husband that I was sad, but I looked so functional. I went to work, I came home, I made dinner— I did all the things that a mother was supposed to do. No one knew. I would sit for hours in the chairs in the living room and stare out the window and cry. I was never happy.

Looking through photos, everyone is smiling. And then you realize that you feel completely separated from everyone. Depression is such an isolating feeling.

A cry for help

I talked to my kids, had made dinner, had gotten everyone off to school. I drove to Afton with the intent of overdosing. I had taken a syringe of my insulin, and I injected it. I had planned that they would find me off in the trails somewhere and it would look like an accident.

It was taking too long. It was taking too long to die. And I felt really alone and really frightened. I saw these people and I stopped and I said, “Do you have a cell phone? I think I am having an insulin reaction.”

I was lucky enough after my suicide attempt to land at Regions Hospital in the Emergency Department. I remember saying to the doctor, “I don’t understand why I can’t leave. I didn’t hurt anyone.”

And he said, “You tried to kill yourself.” And I thought, but I didn’t hurt anyone. It was just me and I didn’t count. So I couldn’t understand that what I had done that was wrong…

My children. My husband. All these wonderful things we had done. I had jeopardized a lot of things.

Thank you

This is the thank you letter that I sent on November 27, to Mr. Brock Nelson (President and CEO of Regions Hospital):

I wanted to take a moment to thank your staff for the wonderful care they provided to me during my stay on the short time mental health unit. I cannot tell you the light they shed in the dark corners of my heart, nor the great sadness they all carried for me. Without them, my children would not have their mother, my husband would not have his wife, and my patients would not have their nurse.

I think just the quality of life— you can live a better life. You don’t need to live like that. There is no place in the world that was safer for me to be than at Regions.