The challenge that may have saved Zeeland student’s life

Ottawa County

ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — C stands for “challenge.” It’s the third letter in the NICE action plan from the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, right after “notice” and “invite.”

Chase Williams, a junior at Zeeland East High School, knows how important that letter is. He’s not sure he would be here today if someone hadn’t challenged him to get help.

“My lowest point was probably a year ago. I started drinking a lot, almost every day in the morning and night. I was using all different kinds of opiates. I really felt like dying, all the time. I didn’t want to be here,” Williams said. 

It was after struggling with depression for years since the seventh grade, when he didn’t want to admit he was depressed. He didn’t think he had a reason to be or deserved to be.

It was his parents who noticed the change in his behavior.

“I was sitting in the living room one night just being sad as I had been for the past year. All it took was my dad asking me if I was depressed. I just broke down crying because I knew it, but I didn’t want to accept it because I didn’t deserve it. Then, just one other person noticing told me that this was real,” said Williams.

His parents also responded in a way he didn’t expect when they found out he was getting into trouble at school because of his drug use. Instead of punishing him, they offered him help.

“I kind of hated it, to be honest, because there is a certain part of you when you’re feeling that way that wants it to be true, so you can be justified. When they tell you they care about you, you don’t want to believe them. You want them to be mad at you because you don’t think you deserve to be cared about,” Williams said.

The challenge from his parents to get help is what has brought Williams to the point now where he is making plans for his future. His plans include going to college for environmental studies, hopefully travelling and challenging others to get the help they need as well.

“I really owe them a lot because I never would have done any of the stuff that I’ve done to help myself without them. I don’t like to talk to people. So, counseling would never have crossed my mind. Medication never would have happened because I don’t want to talk to my doctor about my problems. They kind of pushed me to get help because they cared, and that means a lot”, he said.

He emphasized that anyone struggling should reach out.  

“It’s a hard thing to do. There is really nothing you can do for yourself because when you’re in that mindset of anxiety or depression, you can’t tell yourself what you have to do to be better. Somebody else has to. Any thought you have to get better is going to be tainted,” he said.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention explains risk factors and warning signs for suicide at its website. 24-hour help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.

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