Mental illness presentation gives a voice to people dealing with depression


Chris Core

The DVC counseling center which houses school an wellness counselors.

Chris Core, Staff Member

A presentation was recently delivered at DVC, covering mental illness and voicing the stories of two women who have lived their lives with depression and suicidal thoughts to show inspiration for students who are in need.

The presentation was put together by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an organization that is attempting to bring communities together to help people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and depression.

The two speakers, Deborah Fruchey and Karla Pirie, told their life stories with regards to living, coping and overcoming mental illness.

“If you hang on it passes,” said Fruchey. “Sometimes life hurts, but it doesn’t stay that way.”

Fruchey went on to tell the story of living with bipolar disorder. Starting around the time she was 19 she began to struggle with thoughts of suicide. Fruchey would get thoughts of self worthlessness and despair and had to train herself to remember, “my brain thinks these thoughts, but it is not true.”

Fruchey sought help for her illness and began to attend Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings, where she learned of triggers that brought out the problems she faced.

“The most important thing is loving yourself,” said Fruchey.

Much like Fruchey, Karla Pirie also lives with bipolar disorder.

Pirie began her story by discussing the difficulties that life gave her at a young age.

After losing her father when she was very young, living with a mother who suffered from a mental illness did not make for a safe living space throughout her youth.

Pirie dealt with 15 years of suicidal thoughts and a sleeping pill addiction. A realization occurred after years of distress that she possessed a will to live. “Life is what you do while you’re still breathing,” she said.

Today, both Fruchey and Pirie seek to use their experiences to motivate and inspire people who are suffering with depression and bipolar disorder.

“I want to give back what I have been given,” said Pirie.

Fruchey, now able to cope with the feelings that brought her struggles earlier in life, has written five books, with another book set to release this November. She will be celebrating her 12 year anniversary with her husband that same month.

“Mental illness is a small part of my life now,” said Fruchey.

As for Pirie, she finds her joy attending church and making a deeper spiritual connection with herself and others. Pirie has been speaking for NAMI for six years now and hopes to be able to travel to all 50 states at some point in her lifetime.

“Life is worth living,” Pirie said. “Ask for help and do what people say to help.”

The speakers’ stories strike a hopeful tone for people dealing with depression, which is something that many college students need. One in every 10 college students have contemplated suicide, and a thousand suicides occur on college campuses per year, a study from Emory College states.

DVC offers wellness counseling to help students who are struggling with similar issues. Counselors are available on campus every Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information call (925) 969-2148.

If you’d like to be apart of the NAMI community or learn more information about the organization, reach them at or call the NAMI help line at 1(800) 950-6264. For local specific information about NAMI, email Deborah Fruchey at [email protected].