Survivor: Overcoming mental illness difficult, worth it

Published On: Feb 18 2013 04:25:56 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 18 2013 06:34:45 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

There was a time in her darkest days of depression that doing something as simple as the dishes was an impossible feat.

But Lora Inman is a survivor.

She's battled depression, bipolar disorder and suicide attempts.

She heard the news Monday about country music star Mindy McCready and was overwhelmed with compassion and empathy.

"I lived with it most of my life, and there were many, many, many times that I thought, 'I can't do this, I can't take this kind of emotional pain anymore,'" Inman said.

The big concern for the mental health community is that McCready's highly publicized suicide will send an unwanted message.

Psychologist Terri Wall says high-profile suicides can be damaging to others who are struggling.

"They look at somebody who seems to have everything who killed themselves, and they think, 'Oh, well, if she couldn't be happy,'" said Wall, of St. Vincent's HealthCare. "But that's not necessarily true. Often the happiest people in the world are the ones who have the least. So I really encourage people to talk to somebody."

That's what worked for Inman. Each time before she followed through with a suicide attempt, she reached out.

Thanks to the right combination of treatment and drug and talk therapy, Inman's been healthy for eight years now and has even written a book about her experiences.

She's made it her life's work to counsel peers about living with mental illness and the suicidal thoughts that can come with it. She hopes people enduring a dark time in their own lives choose not to focus on McCready's path, but instead on the people who made the decision not to commit suicide.

"I'm so glad I didn't, because life is good now," Inman said.

Inman does peer counseling at River Point Behavioral Health. To view Inman's website, click here.

There are numerous resources available, but if you need help you can start with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433).