Helen Ross McNabb helps Oak Ridge woman turn life around after suicidal thoughts

OAK RIDGE (WATE) – The community was rocked earlier this year by three suicides at Farragut High School. It was a wake up call for many parents to have tough conversations with their teens about depression and anxiety.

One Oak Ridge woman is turning her life around after struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts since she was a teen. It was a visit to the Helen Ross McNabb Center that made it all possible.

“Well, since I was 14, so going on 27 years, I have been dealing with suicidal thoughts and depression and anxiety,” said Jennifer Allison.

Allison’s mental health has been a battle for much of her life, but last year things came tumbling down.

“I just lost it. My husband was like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ I said I don’t know. I have a great life. I have a wonderful husband in my life, thank God. My kids aren’t on drugs. They have never done anything illegal. Thank goodness. One’s in the Army, one’s got a kid. You know it’s good,” says Allison.

On the inside, she was struggling.

Related: Report: Suicides increase in Tennessee

“It was just nothing. I had nothing. I felt horrible. I felt like I didn’t want to be here anymore. I didn’t want to be alive. I didn’t want to wake up the next day,” she said.

She can smile and actually feel joy now as she shows off pictures of her treasured family. The reason is she checked herself into the Helen Ross McNabb Crisis Stabilization Unit.

“It was really difficult, because I had never been in any place like that before. I was scared.

Jennifer Allison

Lori Ramsey is the director of Crisis Services. She explained the intense program.

“Coming into that program is typically a three day stay, and they see a psychiatrist or a nurse practitioner every day to work on med management. They do psycho-educational groups. They work on coping skills. How to manage whatever they are struggling with,” says Ramsey.

For many people, help starts with just a phone call.

Related: East Tennessee groups: Resources available to prevent suicides

“Our Mobile Crisis Line is the most popular crisis line that people call in, the highest volume. And so if somebody is struggling with maybe suicidal thinking or psychosis or having thoughts to hurt somebody else. and that’s really scary to them,” says Ramsey.

Those that struggle with suicide and other mental health issues often feel alone, but they are not.

“We see anywhere from 550 to 600 individuals a month. We receive over 5,000 phone calls a month. So, and we are covering a five county area in Knox county, Blount, Loudon, Sevier and Monroe. So the need is pretty great.”

Making that call to The McNabb Center can make all the difference.

“I am never going to be cured because there is no magic cure for depression or anxiety, but with medication and the things that they taught me there, life has gotten better,” says Allison.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or having suicidal thoughts, call The Helen Ross McNabb Center’s Mobile Crisis Unit at (865) 539-2409. That number will put you in touch with trained staff. You can also visit them online at http://www.mcnabbcenter.org/.

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