A letter from Lindsay Kirkland

My name is Lindsay Kirkland and I have been battling depression and anxiety since the age of nine.

When you grow up with something as invisible and taboo as mental illness, it is often difficult to take the steps to get the right help. Growing up, I never realized that the often sad and dark thoughts that I was feeling were not normal. When I was 15, I realized that I needed to reach out for help. By the time I was 18, I had exhausted almost every option I thought was available to help with my depression and anxiety. It was September 18th, 2016, when I thought it was time for my life to end. Thankfully, the way that I had planned to end my life that night wasn’t what the world had planned for me.

A long day in the inpatient unit is tough, but my bear,
Princess, and some recreation therapy helped me
get through!

I knew I needed to talk to someone and decided to open up to a staff member at my high school. Soon after, I was sitting in the Emergency Department at Bluewater Health with both my parents on each side. Sometimes, looking back, it’s almost a blur; everything happened so quickly. After speaking to the crisis nurse it was obvious that I was in need of more serious and immediate help and was brought up to the mental health floor where I would stay for a week. 

I remember the first day I was on the floor, I was beyond scared. It was my first stay in the hospital for anything and I was now more vulnerable than I had ever been in my life. The second day my nurse asked how I was doing and if I was going to see Beth to do recreation therapy. I had never heard of recreation therapy before and was curious about what it was. I followed other patients into the dining hall and was met with the bright, friendly face of someone who would have an incredible impact not only on my recovery, but my life. Meeting Beth, the therapist, and participating in the program literally saved my life. I attended recreation therapy every day for the week I was in hospital. That week I made a hat; something that was so simple, but at that point gave me so much purpose in my life.

I have been impacted by my treatment at Bluewater Health in such a way that I want to give back and help others.  I have started a campaign called “Stigma Survivors” to raise awareness and much needed funds for recreation therapy at Bluewater Health. It is truly my hope that my efforts will make a difference for others who are struggling with mental illness, and that hearing my story may inspire you to want to help as well. 

Since my discharge last year, I continue to have good days and bad days. They are both part of my journey. It is a comfort to know that there is support available at Bluewater Health should I need it again in the future. I am super proud to say that I feel the best I have ever felt. Despite some bad days, I am the happy, bubbly and giggly Lindsay that I always knew deep down was there. I am currently enrolled in college and am taking in everything that each day has to give me. 


Lindsay Kirkland
Mental illness fighter and survivor
Grateful patient

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