RICHMOND, Va. -- At Richmond’s Libby Hill Park, CBS 6 producer Alex Sosik said she finds peace and tranquility. An escape from the stress of everyday life, which allows her the time to reflect and unwind.
“Everything is quiet up here,” Sosik says. “I feel like I got some space and can just breathe.”
Sosik, 25, has been coming to the park since her days as a student at VCU. At the start of the pandemic, she said she found herself visiting more, when feelings of deep depression and anxiety began to overtake her cheerful disposition.
“I never thought to myself I want to die, but I stopped being able to see a way that I was still able to live.”
In March 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic led to isolation and massive shut-downs. As a news producer, providing around-the-clock coverage became the norm for journalists.
However, many producers and reporters were working from home, away from the usual support system of an active newsroom.
A few months later, peaceful social justice marches and violent riots around the country and in Richmond led to higher stress levels. As a weekend news producer, Sosik said the demands of the job felt even more overwhelming.
“On the weekends we have a skeleton crew,” she said. “We have a great team, but I felt a lot of weight on my shoulders.”
As the days passed, Sosik said she started to feel herself slowly spiraling deeper into depression, so much, that a doctor prescribed an anti-depressant to help alleviate some of the symptoms she was experiencing.
However, the effects of the medicine were devastating, as feelings of hopelessness became stronger.
“It only took eight days for me to become suicidal on that medication,” Sosik said. “It’s amazing how you can physically not be alone, but still feel like it.”
While an immediate change in medication, exercise, and personal reflection helped, Sosik said a second bout of deep depression hit a few months later.
“This time, I had nothing to blame it on, it was just me,” Sosik said.
While watching an emotional cellphone video recorded to herself, and later reading a poem entry in her journal, Sosik said she realized that she needed more help to overcome her feelings of depression. It was then that she reached out to a clinical therapist.
“I couldn’t see a future, I stopped being able to say tomorrow is a new day,” Sosik said. “I just saw this everlasting loop of making mistakes at work and feeling sad and feeling tired and feeling scared.”
With the help of therapy, her faith community, and support from family and friends, including those on her coed volleyball team, Sosik said the tide slowly began to change. A revelation she wrote about in a follow-up poem to her original post.
“Don’t ever give up because losing one set, doesn’t mean you lose the match. Having one bad day doesn’t mean your life is over. You can do hard things,” Sosik wrote.
Today Sosik is thriving in both her personal and professional life. This month, she joined hundreds of others in the “Out of the Darkness” walk to help spread awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.
"God is the only reason I’m here,” Sosik said.
While she said there were occasional tears, she was able to face each day with a renewed sense of hope for the future.
“It’s tears of gratitude because God carried me through it,” Sosik said.
While it’s been difficult to share such a private and painful journey with others, Sosik said she hoped people currently struggling would know that they are not alone.
“Because of all the people around me who shed light on all these little changes, who encouraged me and answered the phone and reminded me that my life has worth and value, I feel the responsibility to do the same thing for other people,” Sosik said.
Sosik is raising funds for the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention through the end of 2021.
This segment is sponsored by WHOA Behavioral Health.