J. Danee Sergeant visits TAMUC for Mental Health Matters Day

Brianna Patt, Web Editor

Active Minds speaker J. Danee Sergeant visited A&M-Commerce Nov. 13 for Mental Health Matters Day. Photo Courtesy | activeminds.org

By Brianna Patt | Web Editor

Active Minds speaker J. Danee Sergeant visited A&M-Commerce to discuss Sergeant’s substance abuse, mental health, sexuality, and gender identity struggles for Mental Health Matters Day Nov. 13.

“I thought that maybe I just wasn’t doing things right,” Sergeant, who identifies as gender neutral, said. “I didn’t think that there were some things that needed to be addressed for me to have continued success.”

After the death of Sergeant’s second foster mother while seventeen, they stated that they fell deeper into drug addiction, particularly a severe physiological dependence on heroin. Their addiction got to the point where they showed up to their mother’s funeral under the influence.

“I thought to myself,” they said, “there’s nothing more that can be done with this, [my mother’s] dead.”

Sergeant stated that while they didn’t want to use drugs, they continued to, partly to keep friends who were drug users as well. They saw an option of sobriety as going to prison in order to get clean there though that didn’t happen. Sergeant stated that they eventually got clean after a social worker at an adolescent center they frequented offered to help them if they wanted it.

“It got so bad,” they said, “to where I didn’t want to use but my body told me I had to, and I felt like I had to, so I did. “

After becoming clean, Sergeant pursued and obtained a bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling and prevention, beginning to take anti-depressants. They stated that the medication did not help however, and they were provided medication for a Bipolar one diagnosis.  

They stated that their sexuality and gender identity were pushed back. They didn’t feel comfortable discussing these aspects at first and felt that a different sexual identity would add to their struggles.

“It was just one more layer,” they said, “that I’m going to have on top of everything else.”

Sergeant stated that being mindful and compassionate for themself encouraged them to go on, and they said that therapy can provide a way to communicate with someone people don’t typically and encouraged visiting the TAMUC chapter of Active Minds.

“If we had known that these things happen and that these things are okay,” they said, “and not only [healthy] that it’s okay to ask for help but, there’s a ton of resources available.”