KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The continuing pandemic has taken its toll on millions of people.
That holds true for those battling addiction and mental illness, including one inspirational fighter from the metro.
One pandemic moment may have saved her life.
Staying home during the coronavirus crisis is harder for Robyn Potter than it is for many people. In fact, she said it almost led to her death.
The 34-year-old is in recovery from addiction to multiple illegal drugs and alcohol. The mother of three said she’d worked as a prostitute on Independence Avenue since her teenage years, and her parents introduced her to methamphetamines and crack cocaine at a young age.
“My days would consist of bring raped five or six times per night and going right back out and doing it again every night,” Potter told FOX4.
While isolated during the coronavirus crisis, Potter lost touch with the support groups she attends. For her, attending online meetings isn’t the same, and thoughts of suicide set in.
“Here I am, given permission to isolate myself. It wasn’t working. I literally stayed in bed crying,” Potter said. “People are like, ‘You need to get up.’ My daughters are like, ‘Mom, you need to get up,’ and I said, ‘I can’t.’”
In her moment of despair earlier this week, Potter’s coach from Truman Behavioral Health Services showed up at her door.
Lolita McShann presented Potter with a one-year coin of recognition, a reward to celebrate 12 months with no drugs or alcohol.
Potter even holds down a job at a repair service in the West Bottoms, a position she referred to as “her first real job.”
“Robyn is definitely a fighter,” McShann said on Thursday. “She put in a lot of work for that. I felt honored to give her that chip because I’ve seen her put the work in.
Potter wears that one-year chip on a chain around her neck, along with the remains of her best friend, reminders that the fight for sobriety is worth every moment.
“This one year is what I’ve been fighting for. I can stand and say I did this. My addiction hasn’t beaten me. My mental illness hasn’t beaten me. I’m still here,” Potter said.
Truman Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Center leaders told FOX4 an uptick in people seeking help is expected during this pandemic.
Surges in sales of alcohol and over-the-counter medicines have also led more clients to ask for professional care.
If you are struggling and need to talk to someone who understands, call 1-866-WARM-EAR or 913-281-2251.
If you are thinking of hurting or killing yourself, please call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
No matter your situation, please seek help if you or someone you know is suffering. You can find more mental health resources here.