It is okay to talk to someone - Imyn Burton
Like many other teenagers, Imyn Burton became increasingly concerned about things in her life she could not control. At the age of 16, there was a heaviness that surrounded her caused by multiple factors. It seemed as though she was drowning in schoolwork, and beloved family members were passing away. While all of this was happening, she felt she had no one to talk to, keeping her thoughts to herself.
During her junior year of high school, the emotional weight became too much for Imyn to bear. Her family decided it was in her best interest to enter an inpatient behavioral health unit that provided around-the-clock care, in a safe and secure setting that met the needs of individuals with depression and other mood disorders.
In addition to speaking with board-certified psychiatrists, Imyn used music as a form of therapy. Like her mother, she was musically gifted and songs such as “Still I Rise” by Yolanda Adams helped her manage her depression.
“It was nice to be surrounded by other individuals who were going through similar issues,” said Imyn. “I explored therapeutic tools such as singing and journaling to help cope with my problems.”
Imyn’s mental health started to decline again in college. She tried using the tools she had learned as a teen but depression continued to make life hard. Many tragic events occurred and Imyn was admitted into the Spectrum Health Lakeland Behavioral Health Unit.
“This was a difficult time in my life, but taking part in group sessions, learning how to be comfortable around therapy dogs, and reading newspapers were additional tools that became forms of therapy for me,” said Imyn.
When Imyn returned home, she took it upon herself to get additional help to understand where her depression stemmed from. She met with medical professionals who identified that she had a hormonal imbalance and was diagnosed with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Equipped with a better understanding of her condition, Imyn realized that she could minimize her symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“What you put in your body connects to your mental health,” said Imyn. “I avoided foods with a lot of preservatives and alcohol because they threw my hormones off balance. My mother also introduced me to essential oils which helped me gain rest and clarity.”
Imyn is now 37 years old and a preschool teacher at Discovery Enrichment Center. While flipping through the school’s newsletter, she saw an advertisement for the Center for Better Health in Benton Harbor and decided to schedule a virtual appointment with a mental health clinician.
“During my mental health sessions, I learned to take deep breaths instead of holding in thoughts that would usually make me anxious,” said Imyn.
Imyn and the clinician also discussed the five sensory techniques for mental health and watched videos that focused on the lifestyle Imyn wanted to live, including positive relationship building, organization, and motivation.
“Most importantly, throughout my time at the Center for Better Health, I learned that it was okay to be me,” said Imyn.
Once Imyn felt she had the tools to effectively navigate her mental health, she was encouraged to continue to build off the skills she had learned in her everyday life. She also knew she was always welcome to return to the center if she ever needed guidance.
In 2022, Imyn lost both of her grandfathers and her aunt. The death of her family members put Imyn back into a negative state of mind and she felt that she and her seven-year-old son needed emotional support and an outlet to express their feelings. Imyn contacted Lory’s Place, the grief healing and education center of Caring Circle to attend group sessions for support. She also started to take Taekwondo classes with her son so that they could participate in an activity that would help them value mental health and whole body wellness and provide a positive sense of community.
Although Imyn and her family took the initiative to address her mental health at an early age, her journey shows that it can be a lifelong battle. It is essential to be aware of local resources available to those in need.
“If someone is struggling with mental health, I want them to know that it is okay to talk to someone,” said Imyn. “I believe there is always hope and that we’re not alone. For me it was to lean on God and those around me; this helped to guide me through my journey.”
Watch more of Imyn's story in the video below: