Lauren Kinsey has experienced first-hand the struggles and stigmas that come along with mental health, sitting in denial of her depression and disorder for more than 15 years before finally breaking down in October of 2015.
Kinsey said she had a mental breakdown the month before. After a week at a mental health hospital, she was diagnosed as bipolar.
“The way I look at that though, is God put me there to pull me out of my depression,” Kinsey said. “Because I was in pretty bad, and so it was a way for him to get me away and talk to me and make me realize I need to focus on him and myself and not on the depression.”
After her diagnosis, 37-year-old Kinsey began going to PermiaCare, formerly named Permian Basin Community Centers, to seek further treatment and talk with others who suffer from mental illness.
Once she began going to PermiaCare, she said she began attending group sessions daily, talking to other people diagnosed with mental health disorders, began seeing a doctor and was prescribed medication to help with her bipolar disorder.
Since then, Kinsey said she has had a few slip-ups through poor relationships and drug issues, but said she has been sober for the last six months and is taking her medication to work on herself again. She received her commercial driver’s license from Midland College last year and now works as a truck driver.
“I went from getting in pretty big trouble with the law to being able to get my CDL, so it’s been pretty neat,” she said.
Kinsey said PermiaCare has helped her to let her know there is hope, and that it isn’t a bad thing to be on medication. She said the support groups she would attend helped her to get out of the house after being homebound, and push back against the negative stigmas some people have about mental illness.
“I’ve got to push through the stigma to get the help that I need so that I’m not stuck in misery anymore,” Kinsey said. “Because there is happiness out there. There is joy out there.”
PermiaCare will be offering mental health first aid classes for $5 per person, a tenth of the normal cost, through the month of May to coincide with mental health awareness month.
Mental health first aid is an eight-hour training course teaching skills to identify the onset of mental illness or when someone may be feeling suicidal and how to help. The program is meant to build mental health literacy and increased understanding and responsiveness to mental illness signs.
“One in five people struggle with a mental illness, which means there are people in your life who are struggling whether you know it or not,” a PermiaCare news release stated. “If we want to keep the people we care about safe, then it is our responsibility to know the signs and symptoms of mental illness and what we can do to help them to get better.”
PermiaCare works with a number of people who deal with mental illnesses, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and provides a number of services to improve their health.
Information about dates and locations for the mental health first aid classes can be found at www.permiacare.org, on PermiaCare’s Facebook page or by emailing Megan Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone going through a mental health crisis can find immediate help by calling the PermiaCare crisis line at 1-844-420-3964.