My story of healing – Tanya Wilkins
Following years of molestation, suicide attempts, self-harm, domestic violence and depression, Tanya Wilkins has found healing through therapy, a strong support system and by sharing her story with others by writing a book and her modeling career.
Learn more about her story of healing below:
Tell me about yourself: I am a mother. I work with children ages 11 to 17 dealing with the same struggles I’ve struggled with. I'm a fashion model. I'm an up-and-coming author. I’m actually preparing a book about my struggles and healing.
My story: At the ages of 5, 12 and 13, I was molested by two of my family members. When I was 14, I was told my dad wasn't my dad during my parent’s marital argument. And by age 15, I started rebelling against everyone and everything. Drinking, smoking, doing drugs, running away from home, fighting my sisters and my mother. At that time, I was placed in a mental health facility.
At 17, I saved my mother, as her ex-boyfriend attempting to harm her. At 18, I was in a near-fatal car accident, in which I flatlined 3 times and nearly severed my head.
Finally, at age 19, I became pregnant with my firstborn, my son. Which showed me I had a purpose.
However, postpartum, I experienced depression and recognized it. I then began self-harming in private. I then went on to look for love in all the wrong places and had two daughters: one of which I tried to put up for adoption but my heart wouldn't let me.
By 26, I was married, and unfortunately, my husband revealed an abusive side after our "I dos." I suffered broken noses, black eyes, stalking, a concussion, embarrassing rants in front of coworkers. I had to have a protective order issued, but it didn't faze him. I wasn't safe anywhere.... I ultimately had to go into hiding for two years.
I struggled to hide as much of my mental illness as possible. It was so hard to be happy or someone I wasn't. Having break downs, meltdowns, anxiety or panic attacks. All the while wondering if I was crazy.
What happened to cause your anguish? The background that led to my struggles began with two people very close to me, who my parents trusted very much, traumatized me by molesting me. I couldn't understand how my parents didn't know or see the signs. Then the secret of who my father was after so many years scarred me for life.
What was the moment that caused you to realize that you needed to seek care? The day I attempted suicide made me realize I needed serious help. At age 30, I almost took my life... but somehow God intervened. My sister who never calls just out of the blue called me, while I was in the midst of my attempt. She told me she felt something was wrong and was able to keep me talking while she came to my aid. That was my turning point. I was NEVER going to have my children bury their mother because of my hands or of a man's hands. I wanted my life to be better to receive the help I needed.
What does your recovery look like? I don't know that you really recover from such traumatic things. I will say therapy definitely helped. Talking more and more about it with friends and family that I trust so much has helped. Getting back into modeling helped my self-esteem and gave me the platform to begin sharing my story. Finally, writing my book made me be vulnerable and honest with myself. It helped me deal and cope with my past better than I had before and heal my spirit.
Where are you now?
Today, I am doing wonderful! I'm using my past to help others with their present and future. Life is so worth living!!! I have had no setbacks. I have an awesome support system in my family. Life is good. Not perfect. But definitely good!
One piece of advice you would give someone in a situation like yours trying to decide whether or not to seek care:
We tend to not want the embarrassment of others knowing our situation. However, keeping such tragedies inside can lead to self-destruction and blessing blocking. Always seek help and healing. You are not the only one!!!!! You never know whose life you save when you've decided to heal and save your own life.
Mental Health Resources If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, don’t suffer in silence! There are free and affordable resources to help you get through these times. Here are just a few options for you below:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255): Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential, toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network.
National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) offers peer-to-peer support groups in most locations. This in-person group experience provides the opportunity for mutual support and positive impact. You can experience compassion and reinforcement from people who relate to your experiences.
Some federal agencies offer resources for identifying practitioners and assistance in finding low-cost health services. These include:
Health Resources and Services Administration works to improve access to health care. The website has information on finding affordable healthcare, including health centers that offer care on a sliding fee scale.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has information on its website about benefits and eligibility for its programs and how to enroll.
Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offer resources to help answer questions about insurance coverage for mental health care.
Service members and Veterans have unique needs. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans provides for their specific needs.