By: Kryss Jobes
There was a time in my life when I had a breakdown. I sought help in caring for my daughter before things got too bad. But after that it was a continuous downward spiral until I wasn’t me anymore. I had run away, to live in the back of my mind, while my life went on around me. I didn’t like what I saw through my eyes, but no matter how much I screamed inside, I couldn’t stop it.
I had no control.
I was off my medications and self medicating by drinking and partying every night. This, of course, led to financial problems. I’d spend money that was for bills, and then go pawn my things to have money for bills. I was promiscuous and unfaithful. I got in trouble with the law. I was hurting everyone around me and I hated myself but I was losing the war against myself for control.
This went on for years. It wasn’t until I was on the verge of losing everything that I was able to wake up. It was surreal, but I managed. I started talking more in therapy, being honest with myself and with my therapist. I started taking my medications again as well. Cutting ties with the life I had lived wasn’t easy.
I’m still working on fixing everything and repairing damage done while I was mentally away. It’s been a long journey, but I’ve been determined to turn things around and make them positive. I’ve come a long way.
I reached a point where I was tired of being silent about my mental health. I decided I wanted to advocate for it and raise awareness. I wanted to help make a difference.
So here I am.
I write about my experiences living with mental illness, and I share them in hopes of helping others. But this is bigger for me. I want to do more. So I reached out to my local police department after seeing their programs like Coffee with a Cop and Burgers with a Cop. I suggested that they need something similar for the mental health community. After a bit of back and forth, I was finally in contact with someone who could actually help me make this happen. I learned that my city has a Mental Health Unit on their force, and that all of the police officers take a 40 hour course on mental health instead of the required 24 hours. So I talked with the member of the mental health unit, told them my story, and my ideas. It was difficult and my anxiety was through the roof. But this is bigger and I wasn’t going to give up. The officers liked my idea about having an outreach program and said they would work with the local MHMR to try and set something up. They also asked me to write down my story, and anything I thought the other officers should know about mental health that they might not learn in a training course. Things they could learn from the perspective of the other side like what little things to look for that might suggest someone is suffering from mental illness and may not be themselves during a traffic stop, for example. I told them my goal was to help officers learn so fewer police encounters with mentally ill people ended badly. I was in the Citizens Fire Academy, an educational thing the fire department offers to teach people about what they do. After my meeting at the police station, I ran into one of the Captains I worked with at the fire department and told her about my meeting and ideas. She offered to help in any way she could because she agrees that this is something that is needed. That was refreshing.
It took almost three months of trying to get in contact with someone, and several times I felt so defeated that I wanted to give up. Regaining control of my life has felt the same at times. But I refuse to give up and I am proud of the progress I have made. I even look forward to working with the local police department and first responders in order to make our community a safer place for everyone.