Burke counselor uses life experiences to help children with mental illness

By Caleb Beames, Multi-Media Journalist, see the original KTRE story here.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Everyday at Burke, employees help people who find themselves deep in depression and dealing with anxiety.

One of those is Callie Hunt. Hunt not only listens to her patients, she also understands what they are going through. Twelve years ago, Hunt was getting to graduate from Lufkin High School. Hunt was one of the popular students.

“I was very active,” Hunt said. I was in groups and I was on the dance team,” Hunt said. “I grew up in a really great home. I had a really great childhood.”

The student that also was working hard at trying to become Miss Texas looked happy outside but on the inside she was trapped in a dark tunnel, struggling to find the light.

“My mother got diagnosed with breast cancer and then she died,” Hunt said. “I was very depressed. At the same time I started having medical problems.”

Over the next two years Hunt would have over 20 surgeries in Lufkin and Houston as she battled through endometriosis. Because of the pain, the former drill team member hit rock bottom.

“I was just to the point where I didn’t want to do it anymore,” Hunt said. “Waking up was hard. Taking a shower was equivalent to climbing a mountain, and after a while I thought, ‘Well, maybe my family would be better off if I wasn’t here. They wouldn’t have to worry about so much.’ I was having to think about what I was living for.”

Despite those feelings and attempt to kill herself with pain meds, her family stood by her side.

“They never abandoned me, and that’s the hardest thing,” Hunt said. “I lost a lot of good friends.”

Hunt would find hope in a place she never thought she would find it when she was told she was pregnant. Hunt was told earlier that

“I would like to say my kids saved my life, because when I got pregnant that’s when things changed,” Hunt said. “So from then on I was living for somebody else.”

Now her 12-year journey has brought her to Burke and she is helping those that walk where she has been.

“I’m not here to give advice, but I can tell you I understand,” Hunt said. “A lot of people say they understand but for me to share bits and pieces about my journey, they are sitting there thinking, ‘This girl gets it. ‘”

Hunt does not judge, she only listens.

“If we can encourage people to not be afraid and to step up and say I need help, to let them know that’s okay,” Hunt said. “There is nothing to be ashamed of. Depression is real. Anxiety is real.”

To get help from Hunt or another Burke employee, click here.