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Topeka woman fights depression while also helping others

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) - Mental Health Awareness Week is this week, and depression is one of the most common mental illnesses today. It affects 322 million people worldwide, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

From job losses, a failed marriage, and the loss of a child, life has been hard at times for Nicole Passafume. 

"I had my daughter Makayla. I had some other pregnancy losses and then I had my daughter Lea, and she died. She died thirty one days after she was born of SIDS. I mean the depression was so bad that i couldn't sleep and I was tired all the time. I wasn't eating. It was just overwhelming," says Passafume. 

These tough times brought with them a lifetime battle of depression. As a result, she says she tried to take her own life, three times. But her latest attempt was the turning point for her.

Passafume says, "My daughter Makayla, was about 11 or 12 at that time. She had created a summer calendar of all the things she wanted to do with me that summer, and I couldn't get out of bed to even make her a bowl of cereal. And she just ran into the kitchen, and I could see her from the bed. She ripped the calendar of the wall, and said we're never going to do anything. I thought, I am the worst parent on the planet. I am no good for her, I am no good at anything. I don't know how to do anything. And so I decided to kill myself again.

Thankfully her sister stopped by, and was able to get Nicole some help. After spending some time at a local recovery facility, she was inspired to help others who also have mental illnesses. 

"I can relate to something. There's always something I can relate to. It doesn't matter what their diagnosis is, and I don't disclose what mine technically is. But just that I can relate to them is pretty helpful," explains Passafume.

Nicole has worked at Valeo Behavioral Health Care in Topeka for about 10 years now, and is helping others in peer support. She says she is doing much better today, but watches out for the red flags that trigger her depression, and immediately gets support.

If you have concerns of depression you can call the following Valeo numbers:24-Hour CRISIS LINE:  (785) 234-330024-Hour DETOX LINE: (785) 234-3448



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