It started as a regular day on December 5, 2016, for Stow resident Kelly Hartman, an elementary school teacher. She said goodbye to her husband and two young daughters and went to work. However, as the day stretched on, she experienced something she’d never felt before, a tremendous amount of anxiety.
“I felt like I was dying and didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought I would never see my husband again.”
Prior to this fateful day, she felt amazing. She had massive amounts of energy and exercised excessively.
She arrived at Summa Health Akron Campus and after evaluation, transferred to St. Thomas Campus for hospitalization in the psychiatric care unit.
“Never in a million years would I think I would be in a mental hospital. And little did I know I would go through depression, too. I could not believe this was happening to me.”
Kelly spent six days at St. Thomas, learning about her condition, starting on the proper medication, enjoying music therapy and forming a bond with other patients.
Once going home, her struggles weren’t over. She began to experience anger, low self-esteem and confusion, and even started distrusting her own emotions. Depression set in.
“Now, recovery means validating my own feelings, trusting in my experiences and admitting that it was not my fault.” She has learned that there is a history of depression and anxiety in her family. “That took some time for me to process, understand and accept.”
“I am forever grateful for the staff at Summa for the care I received during my hospital stay; it’s been lifechanging,” Kelly shared. “The staff really cares about their patients.”
Named 2018 Outstanding Educator of the Year in her school district, Kelly has come a long way from her days at St. Thomas. She considers December 5th a special anniversary, and recently celebrated with the staff at St. Thomas with a surprise breakfast to thank them.
“I think the most important message that I hope to convey in this article is I’m ‘someone you’d never expect to struggle’ upon first glance. I want others to see me as successful and as someone who just so happens to live with a mental health condition. I hope my story can help change the face, the stigma of mental illness.”
Our Behavioral Health Institute can help individuals experience relief from symptoms and gather new hope and possibilities in their lives. Contact us at 234.867.7965.