The holidays can be a difficult time for people suffering from mental health issues like depression, but one Riverside County woman hopes her journey will inspire people to get the help they need.
She went from being homeless to being a successful business owner thanks to family and therapy.
Crystal Smith does what she loves to do. She dyes, cuts and styles people’s hair.
“Blessed, I would say blessed is the word,” Smith said.
In November 2020, Smith fell into a deep depression, something she had dealt with at times since she was a teenager.
Smith says her depression worsened after giving birth to her last two children.
“I just wanted to stay in bed all day and every day,” Smith said. “I would do the bare minimum to take care of the kids, I would feed them, but I just wanted to be in bed.”
Her depression became so bad Smith had to quit her job. She needed therapy that included a stay in a special intensive care home.
“They always told me in the house ‘you have to find a great support system and people who will lift you up, people who will be there for you whether you’re at your lowest but who you can be vulnerable with.’ ” said Smith.
That support system would include her church and her husband, Dillon, who quit his job so he could focus on Crystal’s recovery while caring for their six children, ages three to 11.
“I didn’t want to go on the road as a truck driver and come home and find out my wife was dead,” Dillion said.
With minimal income, the family was forced to live in a motel for a short time before eventually saving enough money to buy a camper.
For more than a year and a half they stayed in camps throughout Riverside County.
During that time, Dillon says therapy and medication started to make her feel better, and she even started cutting hair for the campers.
“Then one of her friends reached out and said, ‘I’m off three days a week, if you want to come into my salon suite during those three days, you’re more than welcome,'” Dillon said.
In June, Crystal and Dillon saved enough money to open Smith’s Hair Salon in Temecula.
They also started a non-profit organization called Crown of Glory Ministries.
“Helping people who are in the same situation we were in two years ago,” Dillon said.
By giving them advice on how to cope with a mental health crisis and most importantly, giving them hope that things will get better with a good support system and good therapy.
“Therapy is not quick, so take action no matter how long it takes and just don’t give up,” Crystal said.