COLORADO SPRINGS — Mental health is often an uncomfortable subject for many of us to broach, especially if we’re the ones suffering. But one mother and daughter duo is traveling the country to change that stigma… this week making a stop here in Colorado Springs.
“One in five--is what they’re saying right now--will experience a mental health disorder sometime in their life,” Sonja Wasden said.
And Wasden isn’t shy to admit, she is one of those people. She has a diagnosis for bipolar disorder.
“Mental illness… it had many layers to it,” Wasden said. “I had gained over a hundred pounds from emotional eating. I was kicked off my son’s school property for getting angry with a teacher.”
For the longest time though, she was shy about telling others about her struggles. She was ashamed.
“I felt like a dirty little secret,” she said. “I had hid my mental illness for over 20 years.”
The shame almost cost her and her loved ones dearly.
“When I was 16, I found my mom’s suicide note,” Wasden’s daughter Rachael Siddoway said.
Siddoway has been alongside her mom throughout her journey.
“It’s always been a very open dialogue between us,” Siddoway said.
From the moment Wasden recovered from her attempted suicide, the mother and daughter duo have been on a mission.
“The most important thing that people need to do, is to come forward,” Wasden said.
Together, they wrote a book, titled ‘An Impossible Life.’ The book gets into intimate detail about Wasden’s mental health highs and lows, and discusses how she finally got through to a happy life.
It’s what brought them to the Old Colorado City library this week.
“Libraries are the heart of the communities,” Wasden said.
They donated a copy of their book to every Pikes Peak Library branch, like they’ve done at libraries in 47 other states now.
“One copy can reach many hands,” she said.
At each stop, they hold open conversations, efforting to make uncomfortable topics comfortable.
“I lost my dad to suicide,” Wasden said. “And I have to tell you we have got to make this conversation more open and comfortable.”
That starts with understanding how you can help someone you’re close with through their struggles.
“I would say... just loving them and saying if you don’t have the ability to get help, let me help you get the help you need,” Siddoway said.
Because if there’s one thing their life story can teach, it’s that a little conversation can go a lot farther than you ever might’ve thought.
“I want people to know that there is hope,” Wasden said. “There is hope out there.”
“Doing all this feels really important to break down stigma because as long as suicide kills conversations it will continue to kill people,” Siddoway said.