Woman shares depression story after boyfriend's tragic death to break stigma

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A young woman tried to save her boyfriend's life in a welding accident in Pontiac back in 2017. He didn't make it, and now she's making it her mission to help people realize that mental health issues because of trauma need to be talked about.

"I was checking his pulse nonstop and he had a huge hole in his abdomen, so I was trying to keep pressure on that and telling him to stay with me," said Rachel Normandy. "But in my heart I knew he wasn't going to make it." She was only 21 years old. Her life changed in a day. 

Rachel's boyfriend, Daniel Munoz, was welding in the garage in a home in Pontiac when one of the sparks ignited a fire cracker that happened to be sitting nearby. 

"We think one of the tools was the thing that caused his head injury," Rachel said. "So even if EMS had gotten there right away - which it didn't, it took a while - there is nothing that could have saved him."

That was in April of 2017 she lost a piece of her heart. But she made sure to keep her head up high. She was in need of a trauma therapist. Her mother came to her with a list of the best ones in metro Detroit. 

"She said pick one and if you don't like them we will go to a different one, and if you don't like them, we will go to a different one, but we will make sure you get the counseling you need," Rachel said.

At 23 years old now, Rachel is coming back to The Friendship Circle with a message - you can get through anything, any trauma, any anxiety. 

"I knew my life couldn't be over because that would be a disservice to him because he's the one who lost his life and if I had stopped living, stopped going to school or stopped doing anything that I was doing, it almost would have been like a disgrace to his death."

To honor his life and her own, she went to get help. Now she is sharing the message to others that we have to break the stigma around mental health.

"I think a lot of times people think if they are going to a therapist, people are going to think they're crazy - and that's just so not true," she said. "So many people who have never even been through that literally just need to talk it out."

Social workers agree. Seeing someone who has gone through such a tragedy, and learning they have been able to rally, can shape others to get through their tough days as well.

"Knowing that someone else got through a really challenging time - whether it's more challenging, less challenging, however you iterpret that - it lets you know that you are able to get through it, too," said Sara Daniels, social worker.

"There was one day I woke up and I was like, okay, I don't need to drag myself out of bed today, I am going to get out of bed today," Rachel said. "And then days after that, I was like, okay. I'm going to be okay, everything is okay."

An event Thursday, "The One Thing I Wish You Knew," is at The Friendship Circle. This event will focus on members of our community and how their attempts to overcome challenges have often felt isolating and alienating. You can get more information on the event here