Wellness Inspiration - Two Living Well Success Stories

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Allen “Robin” Webb

UTHealth in Houston

1) What health behavior did you change?

I stopped using tobacco.

2) Why did you decide to make this change?

Health (cancer) and money.

3) How did you accomplish your success?

With my wife’s help and support from my co-workers.

4) How did UT System Living Well or your Institution’s resources and tools help you?

They provided lots of support.

5) What goals and obstacles did you have?

My goal was to quit dipping and the obstacles were that tobacco is very addictive. I dipped snuff for 27 years and had oral cancer.

6) Who supported you during this experience?

My wife, family, co-workers, and my boss, Dr. Susan Parnell supported me.

7) What advice do you have for others who want to make this change?

Anyone can contact me; I would love to help others quit. I dipped for about 27 years.

 


Katie Simpson

UT Dallas

1) What health behavior did you change?

Started taking medication for my anxiety and anxiety-related depression.

2) Why did you decide to make this change?

A period of high situational stress in my life was topped off by my stepfather's death.  Getting that phone call from my mom, and the way my body responded to hearing the news, was the unavoidable evidence that I was getting overwhelmed.

3) How did you accomplish your success?

On the advice of my counselor at the time, I enrolled in a week of day therapy in Portland, Oregon while up there to help take care of my Mom. That's actually the main reason I consented to start medication - because I was going to be in the presence of mental health professionals for significant portions of the first few days I was on the medication. I had no idea what to expect, so I felt better knowing someone else would know what to do if things went south. I can't say that I can't believe I let myself go for so long without getting on the medication, but I was able to actually notice a positive difference quickly (which is significant - I am occasionally oblivious even to my own self). That helped a lot with adhering to the regimen.

4) How did UT System Living Well or your Institution’s resources and tools help you?

During an actual crisis event, I used the Employee Assistance Program to find a counselor.  That was my first experience with working with a mental health professional, and was my first clue that hey, perhaps I would benefit from some skilled assistance.  Though it would still be several years and a handful of counselors before I would finally consider medication, using the EAP was the start. And odds are good that I wouldn't have ever reached out to a professional if the no-cost option hadn't been there for me. Not even necessarily because I couldn't afford it, but because I would have doubted whether it would be worth the money, and talked myself out of it.

5) What goals and obstacles did you have?

Unsurprisingly, most of the obstacles were in my own head. The horror stories I'd heard about friends having trouble adjusting to medications were all from friends with much more complicated situations than mine, but there was the fear of things getting worse instead of better, and staying worse for long stretches of time. There was also a bit of self-doubt that I hadn't actually tried hard enough to cope or adjust without reaching for the pills. I had one counselor who was certain that I wasn't yet bad off enough to require medicine, and another one later who was appalled to hear that anyone had thought that. Because of all that, the only real goal I could set for myself with regard to medication was to take it faithfully for a week.

6) Who supported you during this experience?

My husband, a friend of mine with whom I stayed while in Portland, and my mother - bless her for letting me worry about me at the same time that I was worrying about her.

7) What advice do you have for others who want to make this change?

Everyone's situation is going to be different, so get your advice from someone who is more familiar with your situation. A professional counselor is great if it's an option, but even a friend's opinion is going to be more useful for you than mine would be. I can't even pretend that I discovered any universal truths on this trip. =)