There are numerous headlines today talking about the mental health crisis that is happening in our country. Like many Americans I have found myself struggling over the years with depression and thoughts of suicide. This is my story of how I have found that life is worth living.

I am a psychotherapist, and I have been working in mental health since 2000. Around 8 to 9 years ago I realized I was fantasizing about suicide. I had done mental health crisis work, so I had talked numerous people through suicidal thoughts and getting connected to help. Once I realized that I was having suicidal thoughts I stopped and asked myself, do I really want to do this? My thought process at the time was if I really want to do it, then do it; however, if I don’t really want to do it then stop the fantasies. I would never say that to anyone else, but to myself that was my thought process. I searched myself and found the reason why suicide is not an option for me. I may wish I could die at times, but there are things in my life that do not make that an option.

From then on I still had suicidal thoughts, but I knew I would never do it. Mostly, I would tell myself to just stop, it’s not an option. I also did not tell anyone. I had fear and shame about being a mental health professional and struggling with suicidal thoughts.

For a number of years this is how I tolerated living; even though, I did not desire to live. Then somewhere around the middle of COVID I had a realization that set me on a path that ended up helping me find joy and meaning in life. To explain this realization, I first have to tell you about a principle that I have lived by since becoming a mental health professional. One of my first supervisors said to me that if I am not willing to do what I ask my clients to do then I am a hypocrite. This is direct, but honest. I have never forgotten this or the amazing supervisor who said it. If I share an intervention with a client, then I have first taken the time to apply it to myself. However, during COVID I realized my clients were doing something I had never done. They were going to therapy. I had therapized myself, but I had never stuck with a therapist for more than a few sessions. I realized that I had to do therapy myself if I wanted to continue to ask my clients to keep making their appointments. I also realized I had to get honest with a therapist the way I asked my clients to get honest with me. First I had to ask myself what did I want in a therapist?

(To Be Continued)


Anna Steele is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who has had a private psychotherapy practice in Vail for over 8 years. You can find more about her and her practice on her website,


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