May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s a more important observance than ever: Almost 20% of American adults—nearly 50 million Americans currently experience mental illness, and many of them suffer in silence because of the stigmas associated with mental illness and mental disorders.
This month can have a different take away for different people. Whether you believe it’s time to take part in reflection, take part in a self-care challenge, or if you want to simply bring awareness to mental health and fight any negative stigma, this awareness is so important.
We thought it would be great to spotlight one of the faces of USA Truck that has been affected by and is now an advocate of mental health programs.
Sydni Lewis, who works in the Independent Contractor program as a Lease Purchase IC Coordinator, has been gracious enough to write a blog-like letter for us. This letter gives insight to her life and background and brings a unique perspective on mental health to our USA Truck family. We thank her for her willingness to be open, honest, and vulnerable and share her story.
My name is Sydni Lewis I work in the Independent Contractor program as a Lease Purchase IC Coordinator. Previously I have worked in the Mental Health Field, Adolescent Foster Group Home, Harbor House – Gateway women’s recovery, and as a QBHP for connections behavioral health.
I am the Chair for the Out of the Darkness Walk in the River Valley, this is a walk that we put on every year to raise awareness for suicide prevention, at the walk there are several mental health resources that are local to our area, I have a list of all those resources if you or someone you know may need them.
I became an advocate for suicide prevention and raising awareness for mental health after a long battle with depression. I have been in therapy since I was about 7 years old. I have had numerous therapists, psychiatrists and one very intense hospital stay.
In December 2017, I attempted suicide due to what I thought was a never-ending battle between depression and anxiety. I spent almost 2 weeks in the hospital getting help. Prior to my attempt I disconnected with every person and place that I knew, I felt as if I was a burden and couldn’t do anything right. I slowly started giving away or selling items that had significant meaning because I believed that it was easier to get rid of everything so that my burden didn’t stick around when I wasn’t. After my 12 days at the hospital, I was discharged on Christmas eve, I honestly couldn’t tell much difference besides everyone seemed to be nicer to me, for a little bit. I made the decision that I needed to cut everyone off, including family so that I could figure out who I am, where I wanted to be in life and find the help I needed.
After many months, countless appointments and many medication changes I started to get back on my feet, finding a new place to live, adopting a puppy, getting a new job, going back to school, and taking multiple classes to better understand what I was going through, and the trauma that I endured as a child. I decided I could use what I went through to help others. At 21 years old I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that. I got a job helping adolescents in foster care reintegrate into the community, and that is where I met a dear friend of mine who was the Chair of the Out of the Darkness walk, in 2019 I became a co-chair with her, that is where I found the love and passion I have for sharing my story and spreading awareness to any and everyone.
One quote by Walt Whitman has stuck with me is “I exist as I am, that is enough,” I used to have that written on the bathroom mirror. Another short phrase that I had on my mirror, and on my sun visor was, “Carpe Diem” which means seize the day. Every day is a new day, live life day-by-day, and if that is too hard or overwhelming then live life minute to minute.
If you have time watch Naval Admiral William H. McRaven speech about making your bed, it puts something so simple into perspective about starting off small can change your life. “Making your bed will reenforce the fact that the little things in life matter. And if you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that YOU made, and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.” His speech may seem silly because it is talking about Navy Seal training, but if you listen to the words he says and turn them into something more personal for yourself, the message is clear and just as relatable. (to view the speech, search MAKE YOUR BED SPEECH – US NAVY ADMIRAL WILLIAM H. MCRAVEN on YouTube)
I am now almost 25 years old with a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter, three dogs and a cat. I am grateful to be able to share my story. Being able to help others who struggle or have lost someone to suicide is one of the most rewarding outcomes of my journey. I know that USA Truck has an open-door policy for anything, so I hope you all know that I am always available to talk or share if you need something.
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