My name is Lily, and I am thrilled to participate in the I'm Glad You Stayed Project. Mental health awareness and suicide prevention are causes that are very close to my heart. I spent years battling anxiety and depression in silence, feeling isolated and alone. Last October, I reached a breaking point and attempted to take my own life. Thankfully, I survived, but it was a wake-up call. For the first time, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and sought the help I desperately needed after receiving inpatient treatment. This experience has helped me come to terms with my diagnosis and embrace the support that has been crucial to my recovery.

My journey with mental health challenges has inspired me to help others in finding hope and healing. Six months before my attempt, I applied for a summer internship for nursing students. I was eager to positively impact others struggling with their mental health, so my top choice was the Behavioral Health Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. Just one week after my attempt, I returned to that hospital for the internship interview. It was surreal to think that I had been a patient just a week earlier, and now I was considering becoming an employee. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, but I knew that my own experience would allow me to provide a strong sense of empathy and compassion to my patients as a nurse.

Eight months have passed, and I'm currently working as a Nursing Student Intern at the psychiatric facility where I received treatment. I feel so fortunate and happy to still be here and to have the chance to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. I'm joining the I'm Glad You Stayed Project because I strongly believe everyone deserves to have their voice and their struggles heard. You are not alone!