Faces of Dane County

Faces of Dane County is part of our ongoing effort to create awareness and start the conversation about mental illness; it features a catalog of individuals in our community and their empowering stories. Taken together, their picture and their story will provide a glimpse of what mental health/illness means to the people on the streets of Dane County.

I personally have worked with families and children that live with mental illnesses. You see over and over again that so many of them have started down a road of homelessness because of not having access to the resources that can help them manage their symptoms. This is what might be the most frustrating thing in my opinion- we might have come a long way in the realm of mental health but the lack of resources still exists.
Checklists. They’re everything. I live with depression and I come from a family that has mental health problems. I’ve come to learn to support myself through small mental checklists. Heck it can be something as small as getting to the store to buy a Klondike bar. The important thing is if I do it, it means that I’m closer to tomorrow. Tomorrow where I might have the chance to feel better.
My mom has been my latest run in with mental illness. She was recently diagnosed with dementia so I’ve been trying to learn how to be there and help her through it. Whenever I visit her, I try to go with a purpose. Something that will help us maintain the connection that we’ve always had. It helps us stay close and her calm. In the end that’s what really matters.
My brother is homeless now and doesn’t want to get help. I think it has a lot to do with mental illness and the view of it in my generation. I try to help him in small ways and see if there are places to get him connected to but he just never really seems to go through with it. Lately he hasn’t even been excepting my help. It’s all very sad.
Mental health to me, means to be able to go through something difficult but being comfortable enough to seek out the resources and help that you might need. It means being able to turn to family and friends and take the steps to care for yourself.
With me being a student, the transitions and the pressure to success is exceedingly competitive. Once you actually get into school- the stress doesn’t stop, then you start worrying about the next thing you want to achieve. Add on top of that, the family issues. I really think that not taking care of your own mental health leads to so many different things- it can lead to many hardships
I went into prison when I was 22 years old and then came out 20 years later, filled with anger and sadness. With the amount of revocations that I’ve had, I live in with the anxiety that I might end up back there everyday. I’m just saying that I should afford to be angry without having to worry about not even committing a crime but still ending up behind bars. I live with a lifelong GPS strapped to my ankle and everyday I have to get that thing charged. I kid you not, I end my days at 9pm with it saying “charge battery, charge battery” over and over again, reminding me that I’ll never be free. I’m doing alright but it’s a constant reminder.