CLEVELAND — Earlier this week, WKYC's Hollie Strano discussed a "deeply personal issue" for the first time publicly.
Since she first told her story Tuesday morning, Hollie has been receiving an outpouring of support -- and the love has been incredible.
Thursday morning, we shared an extended version of Hollie's story on Channel 3's Live on Lakeside program. You can watch that extended version in the player above (app users WATCH HERE).
“By nature, I’m a really happy, positive person," Hollie said. "Less than two years ago, I would have never known that my world as I know it would have come to a screeching halt and that I would have been spiraled into severe anxiety.”
“I went through a really traumatic divorce,” she says. “I felt like, in a sense at first, that I had failed, so it was really hard for me to understand and come to grips with what was going on.”
Hollie says she always struggled with anxiety to a degree, but this situation turned into severe anxiety with shortness of breath and an overwhelming sense of panic.
“I had an amazing support system of close family, and a tight-knit group of friends, but as a mom I knew that I needed more help than that. So I actually sought out mental health counseling, and it saved my life. In plain English, it saved my life. I feel like it’s a really important message, because no matter what it is you’re going through, that help is out there for a reason.”
Dr. Molly McVoy, a psychiatrist with University Hospitals, says everybody deals with anxiety to some degree. But when should you seek help? She explains that in this video:
For Hollie, she says viewers – people like you reading this right now – helped raise her spirits and overcome the anxiety.
“I love viewers as it is, but this brought it to a whole new level for me. I’d post something inspirational and the viewers would just start chiming in. It was like somehow, someway, they knew something and they would lift me. That’s really how my healing began, and then it was brought to another level through mental health counseling.”
Hollie says she’s hopeful her story may help others going through tough times, too.
“I decided to talk about it now because I feel like out of my tragedy came a huge blessing, and the realization that I can help others. I hope that by talking about this openly this will help you, and maybe you’ll be able to get through whatever it is you’re going through right now because you can."
Since the story aired Tuesday morning, Hollie has been receiving lots of love on social media. Here's a message from Hollie in her own words:
We all go through difficult times in our lives. Things happen that we never see coming and, for a brief moment of time, we don’t think we’ll survive. I had one of those experiences not long ago. The overwhelming pain I felt was crippling. I told no one what was going on other than my most intimate circle -- not even most of my friends or coworkers. I crawled out of bed and I came to work every day, put a smile on my face and did my job without missing a day. Then I went home, hugged my children and prayed for strength instead of pain. Some of you just instinctively knew I was hurting, and you reached out and you lifted me. You inspired me. You cared for me with your kindness. You helped me. I am so thankful and grateful for you. Now that I’ve healed, I’ve decided that it’s my turn to reach out, open up to you and lift someone else, help someone else, inspire someone else and share what I learned on my journey. I really want to help you... If you are in a place in your life where you’re dealing with anxiety, fear, depression, I encourage you to ask for help!
Where to get help:
We've teamed up with the wonderful people at the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center to put a spotlight on their service. They have a 24-hour helpline that you can call at 216-391-HELP, that’s 216-391-4357. And their website, which is loaded with information to help you, is DVCAC.org. They can get you a confidential referral for help. Please don’t suffer in silence – you CAN do this!
If you or a family member are experiencing a mental health or an alcohol or other drug-related emergency, seek immediate assistance by calling the 24-hour Suicide Prevention, Mental Health and Addiction Crisis, Information and Referral Hotline, 216-623-6888.
You can also reach Dr. McVoy and her colleagues at 216-844-8330 (for adults) or 216-844-8331 (for children).