Hi, my name is Nick. I turned 18 in May, and I got a tattoo on my arm. It’s of the Nordic runes for music, strength, and love. It’s a constant reminder to always have love for the people around me, to always push to be stronger than I am, and that my love for music will never fade.
I don’t know exactly when I was diagnosed with depression, but – deep down – I think I noticed it when I was pretty young. I was bullied at school and at home. My mom was a heavy drinker and my dad spent time in and out of prison. I’m the youngest of 5, and I endured a lot of violence from some of my siblings and my mother. I thought that was just how families worked.
By 7th grade, I started cutting as a way to cope. I had friends, but their parents didn’t want me around. At 12, I was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I had to switch my whole routine, and I hated it. Later that year, my dad – who I had been living with due to conflicts with my mother – went back to prison. I had to say goodbye to him on the phone.
I was completely broken. At 15, I had my first suicide attempt. Prior to it, I sent my older brother, Luke, a text message saying, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” He took me to see “Unbroken,” the movie about a WWII hero who endured 47 days on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean before being captured. “These guys really went through hell, and they came out of it,” he said. “Why can’t you?” He was trying to help, but he didn’t understand.
My family and I got evicted from our apartment and we were homeless for a while. By the fall of 2016, I stopped going to school. I just couldn’t see the point.
After 6 months, I started at a new high school and met my best friend, Malachi. I sank into a more severe depression. He ended up saving my life when, at almost 17, I attempted suicide for the third time.
I was hospitalized, and right before I was discharged, a social worker recommended Guild. I was trying to feel better about myself and the things around me, but my life was just spiraling downhill. About a month later, I started working with Guild’s EQ team.
One of the first things the team did is help me leave my mom’s place. I will always be grateful to my mom for calling Guild but living with her wasn’t the greatest for me. I moved in with a friend.
I didn’t have anything I needed to get a job, apply for a state ID, or open a bank account. The team helped me figure out what I needed to do. I got a job working after school and on weekends, and when I turned 18, I opened a bank account.
Someone from Guild’s EQ team meets with me every day. They meet with me at school or they pick me up and help me run errands.
Mondays, I see Pat. She’s a nurse. We talk about diabetes management. We talk about music a lot, too. Before the EQ team, my blood sugar was always high. It’s gone down a lot. I still hate the disease, but I manage it actively now. Pat also reminds me to see the dentist. I’m working on that one.
Tuesdays, I used to see Richard. He’s a case manager. He’s goofy, and I love it. He helps me evaluate stuff on my mind, and that helps me to see things differently.
Wednesdays, I see Jeff. He works in chemical dependency. We used to talk about smoking, but I don’t smoke anymore. I got him into a new type of music called post-modern juke box. He really likes it.
On Thursdays, it rotates. Sometimes, I see Susan, the therapist on the team. We talk about what’s going on in my mind and what’s impacting me. She helps me with conflict situations. She likes the TV show “The Walking Dead” as much as I do. Other weeks, I see Nataliya, a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She’s a really caring person. Every time we meet, she asks if I’ve eaten. I talk to her about my medications and about changes I’d like to make, and she gives me options.
Friday is my day to meet with Nathan. He’s the education specialist. We talk mostly about what’s going on with my job. I used to get on his case about how he never plays music in his car. We crack a lot of jokes.
And Kristin, the team leader, was one of the first people who helped me when I needed it. She’s the one that got an Uber for me the day I called her in tears and said I couldn’t live at home anymore. Her help that day changed my life.
Meeting with someone from EQ every day really helps me with my routine. They’re interested in the things I have to say. And the things they say to me? I turn those into self-advice. I say to myself, “How can I handle this?” Their voices echo in my mind. I believe they care about me, and that gives me hope.
The team helps me stay stable. I’m strong both physically and mentally. I’m more assertive and can tell people what I want or need from them. I have a support system outside of the team, too – my girlfriend, Grace; her mom, my roommate, Josh, my advisor and social worker at school, my friends Hunter and Malachi, and my aunts Jen, and Amy. I trust my inner circle, but trusting other people is something I continue to work on.
I’ve stayed on track with school and look forward to graduating, hopefully at the end of this year. I plan to go to community college to get a degree in psychology and eventually become a music therapist. My dream is to return to the EQ team as a staff member.
With moving away for school in my near future, I’m going to leave the EQ team. I’m scared, but – you know – it will be an amazing opportunity to see how I can take care of myself after getting help from them for two years.
In my mind, my future goes something like this: a career, a family; 2 cats and a dog, my own place to live, lots of tattoos, a small family trip every year, and — some day — grandkids. I’ll be the one grandpa that everyone wants to be around. I want to be the parent I never really had.
Guild’s EQ team has shown me how much you can grow with the right people pushing you. They have great tenacity. But it’s not aggressive – they keep a firm hold on you, but they also want you to make your own decisions. Because if you want a better life – you can’t wait – you have to make it for yourself.