Patricia D. Wheeler
In honor of suicide prevention month, I Love Me Knot is sharing the story of survivors. Each week we will feature an individual that we consider a warrior who has armed themselves with various tools to battle depression and we hope their story can help others fighting the same battle.
Meet Patricia Wheeler. Patricia currently resides in Pensacola, Florida and attends the University of West Florida. She is majoring in Exceptional Student Education and Applied Behavior Analysis. Her future goals include becoming a behavior analyst and psychologist to work with children and adults with mental illness.
We asked Patricia how she has been effected by suicide and/or mental illness, what has helped her cope and what she would like to tell other individuals currently battling something similar. Here is what she had to say.
Mental illness has run in my family for generations but I did not know what it really was until I got older and starting experiencing hypomanic and depressive episodes myself. I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder in 2017 along with an anxiety disorder. I had been struggling off and on with an eating disorder and started attending therapy for all 3 disorders. I currently am stable but there was a time where I had extreme highs and lows that would effect my daily life. It put a strain on my academics, work and relationships with others. With therapy, support and medication my depressive and hypomanic episodes are not as extreme or as often.
Therapy, medication, exercise and opening up about my mental state has really helped me. When I owned my disorders, learned about them and stopped feeling ashamed, I was able to reach out for help and get better. I also have been writing for years and found that writing about what I was experiencing through poetry not only was healing for me but others who shared the same experiences as me.
As a survivor of suicide, I would just want to tell other people who have lost someone that no one who dies by suicide is trying to hurt others. Families should never blame themselves and there are not always “signs”. I think a lot of families have guilt and they shouldn’t because they can’t control another person’s actions. Learning and advocating about suicide prevention can be healing for families. They should know they are not alone and many people have shared similar experiences.
Patricia writes poems and proses about mental illness, childhood trauma, relationships and finding herself as a young woman during the 21st century. She plans to publish a book of poetry with the theme centered around empathy in the next few years. Due to being diagnosed with anxiety, bipolar 2 and an eating disorder, she has stated, “There is not enough empathy regarding mental illness and I have chosen to advocate for all who suffer due to the stigma surrounding it. I hope to educate people more on it since as a society we believe this shouldn’t be discussed, when it absolutely should be. We all should have more empathy.”
Check out Patricia’s Instagram page @empathypoetry and her website empathypoetry.com to read more of her poems and her story. Patricia, we love you and are so lucky to have you as our friend! <3 <3 <3
This month, I Love Me Knot will be donating 20% of proceeds to Active Minds at UWF. Use code word PATRICIA five dollars off all our pieces this week!