Keegan Follack, 30, returned home to Williams Lake during the COVID-19 pandemic and is enjoying working and living here. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Keegan Follack, 30, returned home to Williams Lake during the COVID-19 pandemic and is enjoying working and living here. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Gratitude goes a long way

Finding ways to improve her own mental wellness has been satisfying, says Keegan Follack

Being grateful for things as they are happening is a habit Keegan Follack has been honing over the last five years.

Back in 2017, the 3o-year-old found herself plummeting emotionally when a lingering depression started to take over.

“I had a good job, good house, good friends, money – all the things that essentially should make you happy.”

Keegan eventually took herself to the hospital in Prince George where she was diagnosed with severe depression and stayed in the psychiatric ward for one month.

Being in psychiatric care gave her an environment to focus on herself in a good way and she could tell the medications were working for her.

“It was a chance to find what worked for me,” she noted.

She recalled how her psychiatrist noticed she took full of advantage of all the supports that were offered her while in the hospital.

“But because I was such a high functioning person with my depression I didn’t think I was actually worthy of going into the hospital, then I found out it was actually meant for people like me.”

Happy that she did stay in the hospital, she had many others tell her they were proud of her, and learned that she was able to overcome not feeling worthy when she started to do the work to improve her mental health.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but having gone through it, I can tell others that they can do it and it is not going to be forever. I like to encourage people to get help, even if they don’t know what it looks like.”

Starting a gratitude journal saved her life, even though it seemed silly at first.

She’d write down three things at the end of the day she was very grateful for. Those first entries were very basic – her health, her family, her job.

“Seeing it written down was huge and doing it every single day inspired me to move toward being grateful in each moment for things as they were happening not looking back at my day.”

Keegan moved to Williams Lake for Grade 9 from Salmon Arm.

She attended Williams Lake Secondary and worked at Tim Hortons, at both the Highway 97 location and when it was on Oliver Street across from Herb Gardner Park.

“I pretty much got to know everyone and their orders,” she said, adding she mostly hung out with guys as a teenager. “I wasn’t into mountain biking but would hang out with mountain bikers.”

After graduation in 2010, she moved to Prince George to take a nails technician course, but never ended up working in that field.

While going to school, she got a job at Treasure Cove Casino and Bingo, and stayed there for eight years.

“I was fortunate at the casino, they let me take whatever time I needed to look after myself when I was in the hospital and because I wasn’t working and making money they put together a donation lunch and dinner. They raised about $1,200 and John Major who owns the casino matched it.”

After the hospital stay she went back to work and continued with counselling. After leaving the casino job she worked for about three months at a radio station in Prince George, but discerned it wasn’t for her.

At about that time she reconnected with a high school sweetheart Morgan Dodson and they started dating.

They moved to Kelowna, Prince George, Vancouver and relocated to Williams Lake during the pandemic to be closer to family.

Today she does not take any medication, but values how anti-depressants help fix a brain that is in a negative state.

Doing Yoga, learning to sleep better, and being comfortable about expressing how she is feeling out loud are all ways she keeps healthy.

She works part time at Bell, Broom and Cauldron.

“I get to talk to the community at the store and I get to know people in this town and I really like that. Williams Lake is such a beautiful place – the community and the nature are my favourite things.”

Keegan is also a visual artist and participated in Art Walk and the Cariboo Art Beat mental health art exhibit last year.

“Williams Lake has really encouraged me.”

READ MORE: Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk kick-off a success



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