Katey Branch

“Hard things happen when you are young, and as an adult too,” says Katey Branch, 62, of Paris. “As an adult I have survived breast cancer, lost my husband to pancreatic cancer and lived with substance abuse in my [extended] family.

Growing up, Branch says her family never talked about anything uncomfortable. “Mental health issues were normalized,” she explained. “I thought my family was perfect because we never talked about any issues in the family.

One of eight children, Branch says “I thought I was the problem. I thought I needed to make people happy, keep everyone safe and prove my worthiness. I learned to ignore the things that felt uncomfortable or didn’t make sense to me – like emotional mood swings that felt scary to me as a child and to perform to keep people happy, keep busy and productive and to pretend everything was as good as our family pictures looked.”

“People in my family struggled with undiagnosed mental health issues like bipolar and depression and as a young person I developed a lot of coping skills as a result. A couple of things that helped me was playing outdoors in nature. And there was a woman in my church.

“When I was 12, Molly Dare from church asked me to be a Mother’s Helper. For the first time I felt I had value … someone liked me. I knew Molly liked me as me … not just as one of the pack [of eight kids].

“As I grew up I worked really hard to fix what was wrong with me.”


Through reevaluation and co-counseling or peer counseling Branch eventually understood there was little wrong with her.

“My best friend in college introduced me to it [co-counseling] and she was the second person I knew really liked me. She invited me, and no other friends, to her wedding.”

Branch married and had two children. But the hard stuff wasn’t over.

“I found out well into my marriage that there were some mental health issues – deep depression, high highs … what was hard on me was not being able to0 talk about the hard things … there was a stigma around it.”

But, as an adult, she learned how to talk. “It helped a lot.”

Branch explained that co-counseling is when two ordinary people (not therapists) each talk to the other in turns. She explained there is a lifting of the burden each is carrying when you can talk to someone.

“I hope that by talking about stuff with my kids they feel they can talk about the hard things. I encourage everyone to talk to someone.

“The more adults that are educated about this process, the more adults who will understand that any one of us can be a Molly Dare and make a huge difference. The more we support each other the more we become possible Molly Dares.

Branch encourages everyone to go to www.resiliencematterstome.com  “This take you to wonderful resources in our community!”

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