Stories of Hope: An Interview with Krista Pylkki
This is part of a series featuring individuals who share their life experiences with mental health issues. Recently, I asked mental health advocate Krista Pylkki about her history of mental health challenges and about some of her current advocacy work. Here’s our interview:
DS: Tell us about when you first started becoming aware of concerns related to your mental health. How did these issues continue to affect you before you sought treatment?
KP: I first started having symptoms of major depression during October of my freshman year of college. I started having negative thoughts about myself. I had feelings about worthlessness. I felt the physical symptoms of depression also with feeling fatigued all the time. I knew something was wrong so I looked on the internet. From my online research, I thought that it was depression but I didn’t seek professional help. I was scared.
I went to see my chaplain on campus. He was helpful and gave good advice. I kept on living day by day. I self-harmed myself a couple months later since it initially started in October. I kept silent about it from others. I didn’t tell anyone. I was afraid. It started to affect me immensely during the spring semester. I had constant negative thoughts about myself. I couldn’t get it out of my head. This happened every day.
DS: What was the turning point that led you to decide to seek help?
KP: It wasn’t until five months after I first started getting symptoms of a mental illness that I sought help. I was having specific thoughts of suicide with clear images in my head. I was severely depressed. During March of my freshman year, I went to the student counseling services on campus. They led me to the Student Health Services where I saw the psychiatric nurse practitioner. I had an appointment with her on my 19th birthday. She went through question after question and at 2:22pm I got diagnosed with major depression and got prescribed antidepressants. It was then that I would call my parents and told them everything that happened in the last five months. I faked it while I was home from winter and spring break.
DS: What has your treatment consisted of, and what have you found that has worked well for you?
KP: My treatment consists of both therapy and medication. I’ve been through a lot of therapists and psychiatrists and psychiatrist nurse practitioner. Two years ago, I found a psychologist who is a perfect match for me and found an integrative psychiatrist last October.
I’ve really benefited from exposure therapy for my OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It’s very difficult but I’ve found it’s been very helpful and I’ve seen results fast. Both of the intensive outpatient programs were beneficial for me after being discharged from the hospital.
DS: How are things going for you now? What have you learned that has helped you stay positive and healthy?
KP: I’m doing okay. I’m better than a year ago when I was discharged from my last hospitalization. I’ve been having a setback but I say to myself that it’s normal. Everyone has setbacks in their lives. One of my mental health diagnoses, I have three, is becoming unclear. We don’t really know what it is. My psychiatrist hopes it’s still bipolar, but it’s unclear with the psychosis I’ve been having.
Over the years, I’ve found that a healthy and active lifestyle has helped me to stay positive and healthy. I was a competitive athlete from 4th grade through my freshman year of college. I have found Pilates and working out, in general, have been beneficial from my mental health including my physical health as well.
DS: You’ve been active in mental health advocacy and social media. Tell us about your involvement in those activities.
KP: I’ve always been outspoken about my mental illness on social media ever since I got diagnosed with my first mental illness of mental illness. In 2015, I created a website for mental health advocacy. Currently, it’s an online business called From Darkness Into Light Resources and I am the Founder and CEO. My goal is to have this business be a non-profit once I graduate from college. I am active on Facebook and Twitter and my goal is to be active on Instagram and Pinterest soon.
DS: What would you like to say to encourage others who are still working on their journey of recovery?
KP: I would say to never give up. I know this is a common thing to say but I mean it and it’s helped me in my own life. Realize that there can be setbacks in lives including in your mental health journey. It happens to everyone including those who don’t have a mental illness. Also, a healthy and active lifestyle is very important to increase mental health. Exercise increases serotonin, which makes you feel better and decrease your symptoms. Believe in yourself. Be hopeful. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen it and I know it can happen to you.
Krista Pylkki is the Founder and CEO of From Darkness Into Light Resources, which is currently a mental health online business, with hopes to become a non-profit one day. She is also an online college student studying Theology and minors in Marketing and Organizational Behavior. You can connect with Krista on her website, Twitter, or Facebook .
Thanks so much to Krista for sharing her wonderful story of hope!
Would you like to share your story of hope? I plan to feature more personal accounts like this from time to time on my blog. If you are interested in sharing your story, please notify me via my contact page. Also, please subscribe to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!