Guest Post by Kasi Greenwood
For my job as a newspaper reporter, I spend many minutes, hours, and days writing, editing and rewriting articles. This one is different from any article I’ve ever done. This is a story with no edits, and no other resources. Just my story, written with 100% honesty and transparency.
Who is Kasi Greenwood? Other than being born and raised in Mineral Point, WI if I had to describe myself, it wouldn’t be so easy. I’ll be turning 30 in July, and I’ve caught myself looking back wondering how I’ve gotten here. But knowing where I am now versus how I was then, circumstances happened that have lead me to saying,
“I’m here, and I’m alive.”
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is something very dear to my heart. Mental health means something different for each person, and one person’s path through Mental Health is different.
Here is my story.
Often times, people have come up to me and have told me that I am one of the most positive people they’ve crossed paths with.
At times I still question if that’s true or not, but through the trials and tribulations I’ve dealt with, in many ways I am. It’s been all about reflection and perspective for me.
Fourth grade through eighth grade I can look back on and remember as the hardest times of my life. A friend that I had been close with cut ties with me without any explanation. It took a long time to come back from that. The ending of that friendship was the beginning of a very dark path for me. A path of questioning myself, those around me, and what the definition of life was exactly. I look back and realize I truly wasn’t present. I wasn’t paying attention in class, and I was just in my own little world. A world where I felt I belong, in a world that wasn’t real. It took three teachers in fifth grade helping my parents seeing the potential that they knew was there all along. It just became a matter of them helping me dig deeper. Looking back now, I owe those teachers my life.
My journey to discovering myself continued through therapy in fifth grade.
To this day, I definitely describe myself as a people pleaser. If someone was sad, I feel their sadness and wanted to do whatever I could to make it better. I really wanted to fit in, and I tried to do whatever it took to win the likability from people around me. In sixth grade, I even laid out in the middle of the road at the middle school in order to win someone’s friendship! A phone call to my parents and many therapy sessions led to a dark moment spring semester in seventh grade.
It was an afternoon the first weekend in May. We had just gotten back from my sister Keirsten’s wedding in Las Vegas the week prior. I was very anxious, with many unstoppable thoughts running through my mind. I had just been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and was also had depression (confirmed by a psychologist in fifth grade). I walked upstairs to our bathroom, and noticed a bottle of anti-anxiety meds not prescribed to me sitting on the forth shelf in our cupboard. With my mind constantly spinning, not knowing which wanting to go, I just wanted it all to turn off. I thought the medication would make it go away.
Just as I was about to grab them, my mom was right there and stopped me. I had no clue that she was right behind me. I don’t know how to this day, but she knew something just wasn’t right. She took the pills away from me. I had gotten in many arguments with her before, but this time there was no fight. There was nothing. My mom reached out and held me, while I shuddered and wept uncontrollably.
I was just tired, and tired of living.
My mom called my therapist who had given her his phone number. I was under her watchful eye that whole weekend. The therapy sessions increased from monthly to weekly and many wondered why I didn’t really have an eighth class period.
Eighth grade was when things started to really turn around for me. I was able to connect with people better, and not be so combative. I remember wondering why I felt like I never fit in, and in one therapy session the realization hit me that maybe I wasn’t ever meant to fit in. I learned that people will come and go in my life, but the ones that will stick around are the ones who accept me for all of me, and not just parts of me.
Then came high school, then college, and now adulthood. While there were many positive things about me, one thing that I really struggled with was being honest with myself. I kept hidden my past struggles, and I’ve only told a handful of my friends.
Mental health issues run strong in my family, I had lost people to suicide. My great grandmother took her own life before my mother was born. My grandfather was a World War Two veteran with 100% Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, before it was even recognized. I lost another cousin on my father’s side at his own hand because of debilitating back pain. I still wasn’t honest with myself. I had even said, “its one of the most hurtful things someone can do.” I thought I had a good handle on hiding it, until one morning I didn’t.
It was February 4, 2018. I saw on Facebook many posts talking about one of my brother’s friends who passed away unexpectedly early that morning. What? No way. I remember thinking that it must have been a car accident. I remember going downstairs and asking my mom if she had heard. After she confirmed, she told me “he took his own life.”
I remember thinking, why him? He looked like he was always so happy. He had been one of my brother’s funniest friends. How could I not see how much pain he was in?
Many say that suicide is one of the most selfish things someone can do. Losing people to suicide I caught myself thinking that. But that mindset was the worst thing of it all, I spent so much time evaluating someone else’s pain, that I completely hid my own. After hearing what happened to him, I went up into my room feeling completely numb with guilt and shame.
“Kasi, get the fuck over yourself,” I said to myself. I had been in his situation before. I had a point where I wanted it to turn it all off. They are not kidding when they say suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It is a constant reminder that I need to check my ego and realize that there are many people who are struggling, even people whom you least expect.
It’s taken me time to forgive myself from that, and I’m getting there each day. My anxiety and depression may never go away, but I have learned great tools on how to deal with it.
I always love hearing the stories around me about how people have overcome their struggles, and how their struggles have shaped them today. We are all cut from the same cloth, but after it is cut, we each take different directions.
I can look back and see the many good things I have. I have a great family, a great group of friends, a great job and many great things I enjoy. I also look forward to learning new things everyday and seeing where those lessons take me. I always have hated not knowing, and this current pandemic has put my anxiety in overdrive with the unknown. But one thing I know is this: We are one, and we are all in this together.