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Former Youth Pins Down, Rises Above Mental Health Challenges

Nick Boes knows firsthand the pain and turmoil that comes from living with mental health issues. He also knows that with the right help, a person can learn to cope with those challenges and thrive in his or her personal, family and academic life. For Nick, that help came from the compassionate caregivers at Boys Town. Nick spent a year and a half as a citizen of the Village of Boys Town, Nebraska, where he found hope, healing and a new approach for the future. This is his story, in his own words.

My earliest memory of my anxiety, obsessiveness and some of the start of my depression was about the age of 6. I was already showing symptoms and unusual behaviors so my mom took me to a mental health professional. My parents were given some behavioral modification techniques to use with me and I was prescribed medication. They were told to bring me back in a couple of years if things got worse.

When I was 12, my parents brought me back because my anxiety and depression were bad again. I was given therapy and medication and things improved for a while. 

In high school, anxiety would come and go, but when it came back, it was bad. I managed it fairly well my freshman and sophomore years. The exercise from wrestling on the varsity team helped a lot and wrestling became a big part of my life. I was also doing well in school.

During my junior year, I had a real bad turnaround.

Even though I was a leader on the wrestling team and doing well in school, my anxiety was a huge factor in how I felt. I held in a lot of fear and anger, and I never told anyone about it.

My home life started to fall apart. I began to be abusive to my family, stole money from my parents and harmed the ones I love.

I tried everything in my power to defeat my crippling anxiety and depression but nothing worked. One day, I ran away from home just to escape; it didn't help, and I returned home.

I was 17 years old and my parents were really desperate to help me find help. So we tried a new doctor and new medication, along with therapy.

Things didn't get better this time. I thought nothing in my life was going right and I had a lot of self-pity. I was so anxious and always worrying about myself. It got so bad that thoughts of suicide began to creep into my head.

That's when my parents contacted Boys Town.  

At first, I went to the Intensive Residential Treatment program. After about a month, I moved to the Family Home Program.  

My Family-Teachers® (the trained married couple who care for youth in Family Homes) were incredible and I consider them like my family. I love them so much.

At Boys Town, I bought in right away. It was my chance to change. I got the help I needed from my Family-Teachers, therapist, teachers and coaches. Life got much better. I did well in school and ended up playing three varsity sports.

At graduation, I remember walking across the stage, so proud of overcoming all the adversity and troubles I had faced. For the first time in a long time, I could look my dad and mom in the eye. 

After graduation, I attended Concordia University. My freshman and sophomore years, I had a bit of a relapse with my anxiety and depression. But I kept telling myself things would get better and this would pass – and it did.

My sophomore year, I was a manager on the wrestling team when I decided to walk on to the team. I knew what to do to make the team because of all the skills I learned at Boys Town. Not only did I make the team but I earned a scholarship.   

I am on track to graduate in May of 2017 with a degree in behavioral science and psychology and a minor in sociology. I have rebuilt my relationship with my family and have the right group of friends.

Boys Town gave me hope and taught me that even though anxiety and depression will never go away, I can learn to accept them and live a great life. The key is to know how to manage them daily and ask for help when they become overwhelming.

I hope my story can inspire others with similar issues to stay hopeful and ask for help.