By Jacob Bila
On Wednesday, May 12th, mental health and wellness was the topic of the Mind Your Mental Health webinar. FTC Students gathered in the Downbeat Café to listen to speaker Lucas Wolfe from the organization, Minding Your Mind. Wolfe began the discussion of his life-long battle with depression and anxiety by saying, "Before all this, I was just an average Joe that had a happy good life."
According national health issues nonprofit KFF, about four in ten adults in the U.S. reported having symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic, a share that has been largely consistent. This up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June of 2019.
Wolfe compared depression to the angel-demon duo on one’s shoulders and reflected on how he never recognized his feelings of emptiness until he was in his sophomore year of high school. These feelings would follow him to college, where at a Penn State University football game he was surrounded by thousands of cheering fans and realized he was suffering inside. Lucas said that at this very football game, he had a near-suicidal experience and considered jumping from the ledge of the highest seats of the stadium.
Determined to find a way to recover, he moved to New Mexico for an internship, thinking the change of scenery would help. "I thought I could get my life back," Wolfe recalled. This was not the case, as he instead had nights of endless or prolonged sleep and lost up to thirty pounds of weight that he did not need to lose.
"Lucas’ journey to be so young and recognize all the things he was going through... because whether he had a diagnosis or not, he understood that he had things going and that’s the biggest part with mental illness," said FTC Counselor Akili Carter.
Akili Carter, FTC Counselor
When Wolfe came back from New Mexico, he started therapy, which helped him to understand the science of depression. Two key elements of his therapy process were his need to take antidepressants and improving his communication with others. Initially hesitant to take antidepressants, Wolfe thought it would make him "crazy" or "wild" as portrayed in the media. His journey in opening himself up to more people showed him that there is always hope, and "a wonderful life waits for you on the other side of the pain." He is now happily married.
FTC Mass Comm. Student, Sean Lanigan, attended the event. "What stood out to me the most was Lucas’ daily routine that he keeps to stay positive, which included a twenty-minute walk and a healthy regular sleep schedule , along with plenty of sunlight," said Lanigan.
If you are feeling depressed or know someone who may be experiencing depression, text CONNECT to 741741 to talk to a crisis counselor that can help you overcome this. FTC students can also email FTC Mental Health Counselor Randi Giebel to set up an appointment.