/Fate kept her from killing herself ‘I got lucky’

Fate kept her from killing herself ‘I got lucky’

“I didn’t time it correctly. “The car was able stop before it hit me,” stated the 44-year old Jackson woman. Treva Bradley, Treva’s older sister, recalls receiving the phone call from Willis and running to help. Bradley stated, “When she was picked up from the side road, I knew that this was a problem.” Willis, who was driven by guilt over financial problems and felt like an underachiever saw suicide as her only option. She said that she was forced to file bankruptcy because of the 2002 attempt to end her life. Suicide attempts are a cry for help. Willis didn’t cry; it was a way to get out of depression and anxiety. She started Tougaloo College at 17 years old. Bradley stated that Latasha was always intelligent and a straight-A student. “But we knew that she couldn’t handle stress,” Bradley said. Willis would need to wait 12 years, and nearly take her own life before she was able to receive a correct diagnosis. Her primary care doctor diagnosed her with hypomania in 1998. This is a condition that causes high energy and mood swings, along with anxiety. In 1999, she suffered a panic attack that led to her first serious panic attack. She was rushed to the emergency room for help. Willis stated, “I was pretty certain I was going to die.” Angela Ladner is the executive director of the Mississippi Psychiatric Association. Ladner stated that the family practice is the first line of defense for mental health in Mississippi. Willis believed she would get the help that she needed after her failed suicide attempt in 2002. She couldn’t afford the treatment, as many people with mental illness struggle. After being diagnosed with major depression and panic attacks during a 10-day stay in St.Dominic Hospital, she saw a psychiatrist but was unable to afford treatment. She applied for Social Security Disability, but was rejected. After being diagnosed with major depression and panic attacks, she reapplied for Social Security Disability. She was finally approved in 2004. After being approved for Medicare, she lost it in 2009. Willis stated, “It threw my for a loop.” “I didn’t know what I should do. In five years, I had not worked. She was faced with having no income. She had learned to work around obstacles. After her suicide attempt in 2002, she was unable to afford to visit a psychiatrist. She switched to Hinds Behavioral Health. This is a network of outpatient clinics run by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. The sliding-fee system took her salary into consideration and allowed her to get free samples from the clinic. Goodwill Industries, Ridgeland was her first job. She found the job through a Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services caseworker. She was then hired by Jackson Free Press as an events coordinator and production designer. She continued her treatment and took a variety of medications to manage her symptoms, including Effexor, Welbutrin. Ambien, Klonopin. Prozac. Obamacare was signed up by her in 2015, while she was pursuing a degree in graphic design. It offered low co-pays, and low rates for medicine. This was a big help to her during the years that she returned to school. Willis completed her degree and worked as a graphic designer from home for several clients, including the Mississippi Affiliate for the National Alliance for Mental Illness (or NAMI). The organization was first introduced to Willis in 2004 by a St. Dominic’s Hospital support group. Willis began her career as a fundraiser for NAMI Walks. Later, she became a NAMI Certified peer-to-peer leader. She began contract work with them in 2015, redesigning their website, and other social media services. One of her support groups started in September and she continues to lead it. Her work with NAMI is a way for her to raise awareness and educate others about mental illnesses, something she says she went through with her family. Willis stated, “They’re supportive. They understand.” Her family was very distraught when she attempted to end her life. Bradley agreed. Brandley stated, “It took us some time to learn from Latasha.” Bradley, who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression two years ago, now understands the struggle better. Bradley stated, “Now I am barking up the same tree.” Bradley advised family members of those suffering from mental disorders to learn more about their loved ones’ disorder and to listen to them. Willis sees a counselor at University of Mississippi Medical Center. She has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (low-grade depressive disorder) and dysthymia (lower-grade depression). At the moment, Willis is not taking any medication. In August 2018, Willis experienced her last episode of depression. Willis recently returned to full-time employment as a social media manager at a local library. Willis, looking back at her story, said that “I know it’s sometimes not the case but I got lucky.”