Abbey s Story
Pittsburg, Kansas USA
"The average tragedy for a three-year-old involves something like the fact that she wants her milk in the yellow cup – the green cup is simply unacceptable. Disappointment and frustration turn to explosive fits and tears until somebody, somewhere finds that yellow cup, and all is right in the universe once again.
For me, I wish it could have been so simple, but it wasn’t. For me, tragedy was exactly that – true, heartbreaking tragedy. For me, one day I had a dad and the next day, I didn’t. And, nobody, nowhere could fix it.
There is only so much you can tell a three-year-old, so that they'll understand, which is why my mom waited until I was twelve to tell me that my father had died by suicide. For nine years, I believed everyone around me when they told me that my dad 'took the wrong kind of medicine.'
My dad was an alcoholic and also a drug user. Having anxiety, he turned to alcohol, marijuana, and Xanax as an escape. On a typical day, my dad would take up to ten Xanax. When my mom threatened to leave him, he immediately quit drinking and doing drugs. But, unfortunately, my dad's body was at the point of reliance, so when he just quit everything all at once, he began to get sick and hallucinate.
A couple days later, he packed his things and checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. The last thing my dad said to my mom was 'I don't want to be like this, I don’t ever want the girls to see me like this, and I don't want to put you through this. I’m going to get help.'
My mom got a call the next morning that he was found hanging in the closet of the facility.
My family and I have begun the process of passing a bill to prevent suicide in treatment facilities here in Kansas. 'HB 2308' would require that a patient be evaluated as to whether he or she are at risk of attempting suicide at the time of admission. The bill would define 'treatment facility' as any public or private facility or institution providing inpatient mental health, drug, or alcohol treatment and counseling. The staff person conducting the evaluation would be required to be knowledgeable about suicide risk management. If, after the evaluation, the patient is found to be at risk of attempting suicide, the treatment facility would be required to provide the level of patient monitoring and assistance as indicated by the level of risk to the patient.
As a young adult, who has been affected by this disease, who has faced many hard choices in only eighteen years, I plan on empowering people and getting them to understand that these invisible illnesses can be treated. As a girl who lost her best friend she called dad to an invisible illness, I am ready to motivate, empower, and provide resources to people suffering from a dual diagnosis."
** Abbey Peterson is running for Miss Kansas this year. As part of the Miss America Program, she has decided to partner with The Invisible Illnesses for her platform.