“It’s like going to a party and you get out in a hurry and you’re not prepared to be in the same place, the same people, for two or three hours,” she said.
“You just have to move around, you just have a new life and you don’t know how to live with it.”
I had just finished working as a sales associate in a retail store, and I was thinking, “Oh, my god, what am I going to do?”
She had just moved from New York to New Jersey and was looking for a job that would give her time to get back to her roots.
“I didn’t know where to start,” she recalled.
“The thought of being in the store and doing nothing, it was just too much.”
So she got out of her chair, walked to the front counter and asked for an interview.
“It was like getting in a car and seeing what I had to do,” she recalls.
She got a job in the company where she worked as a social media specialist.
“It was just like, ‘Oh my god!’
It’s so much fun and I’m so thankful for the job I had,” she told me.
But her new job didn’t last.
The business ended up closing down in 2018, and the store had to close for good.
“They’re a little sad because they’ve got so many things they want to do and the whole environment is just so new and I just want to be part of it,” she added.
She eventually moved back to New York, but she’s still struggling with the memory of the store, which she described as “a huge disappointment.”
“I’ve lost a lot of respect for my old store, the old owners, and it was so disappointing to see it close,” she continued.
“And now I’ve come back and it’s like, it’s a big mistake.”
The loss of a store is one of the hardest things for anyone, especially someone with a history of mental illness, to cope with.
In 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched an awareness campaign called “Vets Are Heroes,” which encourages veterans and their families to share their stories of service and to encourage them to speak out when they need to.
But in 2017, the VA started a program called “Veterans Are Heroes” in partnership with The Center for Mental Health Care at the University of Texas at Austin.
It offers “vintage-style, interactive events and workshops” that are designed to be a “wake-up call to help our veterans feel more supported, empowered and loved.”
This year, it is planning a “Veteran Voices Week,” which is intended to help veterans feel supported and empowered to be involved in their communities and in their recovery.
It is also planning a pilot program in which veterans are given the opportunity to share stories and experiences of mental health, including the stigma and isolation that often surrounds mental health issues.
One of the goals of the program is to create a “community for veterans to talk openly and honestly about their experiences and their needs.”
In a recent Facebook post, the program’s director, Kristina T. Wilson, stated that the program “is dedicated to helping veterans understand that mental health is a shared experience and that it does not discriminate against people with mental illness.”
However, some veterans have struggled with the program.
Last year, a woman from Brooklyn was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had to undergo a year of intensive treatment.
After she recovered from her diagnosis, she began to talk about her mental illness with her therapist.
While the program has a very limited scope, it has provided some support to veterans, particularly those with mental health needs.
This week, the Veterans for Social Justice Facebook page was created to offer veterans a place to share positive experiences and to ask for help.
According to the post, they will also be “working with the VA and other partners on a pilot project to make the Veterans Voices Week experience more inclusive.”
What you can do: Join the Veterans Are Heroes Facebook group here and take a moment to share your stories.
Talk to your doctor and ask him or her to talk to your supervisor.
Share your experiences with your supervisor to show him or she what you are going through and what you can help with.
You can also write to the VA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the United States Congress, the Director of National Intelligence, the President, the Secretary of Veterans Services, the director of the Office of Veterans Programs, the head of a mental health professional, and your state and local officials.
Join “Veteras Are Heroes: Voices of Veterans” and help spread the word about the VA’s efforts to help those suffering from mental health.
Subscribe to the Veterans are Heroes podcast here.