John Knoll is a proud, humble man who has always taken great care of everything: His farm outside Rosalia, his children, grandchildren and home. However, when Janet, his wife of 38 years, became seriously ill, he stopped taking care of himself.
“I tried to do my best, but I felt like I couldn’t do anything right and those feelings built up,” says John, who retired four years ago to care for her.
She died soon afterwards, sending him into a tailspin. After hitting rock bottom last September, the 66-year-old retiree agreed to look into Ascension Via Christi's Behavioral Health Center, near Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph, at the urging of his children.
“My kids saw through the front I put up around family, so their persistence was a lifesaver,” says John.
John had been reluctant to seek help because of the stigma regarding men and mental health treatment, especially in rural communities.
“I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t take care of myself or the things I cared about,” says John. “As a man, I was always told I should privately handle my issues on the inside, but I couldn’t.”
After evaluation, John was admitted to the hospital's inpatient unit, where he received intensive, round-the-clock treatment and medication therapy for the next 10 days. The goal was to help stabilize his symptoms, which included suicidal and self-harming thoughts and behaviors, so that he could safely begin outpatient treatment.
“I had the option to leave three days early, but I took my time because I could feel it working,” says John.
Following his hospitalization, John spent 12 days in Ascension Via Christi’s Partial Day Program. For five days a week, John spent from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. learning how to manage his depression.through group discussion, reading and working with specially trained associates.
“Our Partial Day Program helps patients like John learn to recognize the symptoms of depression and develop better coping skills so that they can be more hopeful and engaged in life,” says social worker Rhonda Nutter. It also helps them realize that they are not alone.
“I was the only male in the program the entire time,” says John. “But I had a group of people who didn’t judge or scold me for seeking help and that made me more willing to participate.”
Though he is a strong proponent of the program having been through it, he didn’t always feel that way, especially the first couple of days. “But then I decided I wanted to get better and found it extremely useful,” he says. While useful, he also realized that addressing his problems was up to him. “It’s not easy and this program doesn’t work unless you work at it. You have to want to get better.”
John says he went from a man who wanted to end his life to someone who is beginning a new one, rekindling relationships and seeing more of his old buddies around town. “I have challenges, but still I rely on what I learned,” says John. “I had questions, St. Joseph had answers and I now look forward to what the next day will bring.”
If he could, John says, he would go back in time and give his old self a gift. “I would say I should’ve gone for help sooner, but later is better than never and I’m grateful for my life and who I am now.”
To schedule an appointment in Wichita, please call 316-858-0550 for outpatient care and 316-858-0333 for inpatient care. To learn more about the Partial Day Program in Wichita, please call 316-858-0218. To schedule behavioral health help in Manhattan, you may call 785-565-2900.