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Living Louella

By Leigh Farmer

WrightLouella Wright is my coworker yet this is my first time ever sitting down to talk with her.  I can already tell this is going to be an interesting conversation.  “After my husband died I had no purpose.” In the middle of a conference room, Louella eagerly begins her story.  “Whenever things got really tough he was there.”  

Louella was in her 40’s with three children at home when her husband passed away.  It was at that point she could no longer hide the depression that had secretly plagued her for most of her life.  Louella tried to kill herself.  It was a compulsion that she felt she had no control over.  She was hospitalized for a while and when she was released, she was introduced to Horizon.  “Since I’ve been involved with Horizon I have not had a suicide attempt,” she says proudly. 

Her pride extends to the work she does every day at Horizon.  She has been working for the agency for 12 years.  “People assume you can’t do anything,” she says.  It’s the stigma of mental illness that hurts her spirit.  But she is living proof that mental illness does not define a person.  “I’m 100% participating…pay taxes.  I’m proud of this.  I’m doing this on my own.”

Louella is happy for now.  She suffers from severe depression, a chronic illness that requires care and understanding by everyone around her.  “I have ‘tune ups.’  That’s what I call it when I have to go to the hospital.”  Her case managers and coworkers know when things aren’t going well with Louella.  “When I get sick, it’s just like a physical illness.”  Louella says her support team makes sure she gets the care she needs.   

Louella’s life-long battle with depression has been a tough one but it doesn’t define her.  She can now enjoy her life.  She is a proud grandmother of eight children, an employee of Horizon and an avid reader.  She has six dogs and a passion for knitting.  And today, she is sharing her story.  “We are human beings.  We have the same desires and wishes as everyone else.”  And her desire is to eliminate the stigma around mental health.  She hopes her story will open the doors for someone else suffering in silence.