Maggie Adamson: Survivor, overcomer, advocate

Reading Time: 3 minutes Maggie Adamson, a UVU nursing student and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) presenter, shares her personal journey of overcoming trauma and choosing faith in humanity.

Maggie Adamson is pictured, smiling.Reading Time: 3 minutes

Maggie Adamson knows what it is like to be a survivor of trials and trauma. 

For Adamson, life’s challenges started at a young age. “My parents lost custody [when] I was about eight,” Adamson shared. Although unsure of the exact reason for this decision, Adamson mentioned her parents’ substance misuse, homelessness, hoarding and mental illness as likely causes.

Adamson explained that despite the assistance of loving grandparents who (mostly) raised her, Utah’s failing childcare program made it difficult for her grandparents to find needed financial help over the course of her adolescence when she moved over 30 times. “Once you are a teenager, you don’t have access to resources anymore. The checks that come, they don’t cover what you think they do,” Adamson explained. “It is a check in the mail from the state, but it’s not something you get rich off of.”

Insufficient financial support was especially problematic when Adamson sought mental health treatment for life traumas she had experienced. Although she had managed to stay abstinent from addictive substances, Adamson listed attachment anxiety, OCD, PTSD and sexual assault as some of the challenges she had endured. “Even though I had many advocates in my corner, I wasn’t ready to begin my journey,” she shared. “I was still too afraid and too ashamed.”

Despite her trials, however, Adamson never gave up on herself or her hope for humanity, and she found the strength to fight for recovery.

“One of the first moments [towards recovery] was when I was given the option to either abort or keep the pregnancy that was forced on me. I thought I could get the life back that was taken from me,” she explained. “But that’s not how recovery works.”

After her baby was born, Adamson had to go to court against her assailant for custody. However, she said, “Rather than feeling defeated, I felt empowered to fight back because it wasn’t just my life that was being affected anymore; there was another innocent life that didn’t ask for any of this. And I wasn’t fighting alone.” 

Adamson won the court case, and justice was served with a prison sentence given to the assailant.

Later, this experience led Adamson to another defining moment in her recovery: therapy. “I went to therapy for many years,” Adamson stated. “My doctors, therapists, and I tried at least 7-10 different anxiety medications until we found a combination that worked best for me, …[and] with a lot of patience with myself and the process, I began to see the real progress.”

As part of the healing process, Adamson has learned more about herself and her emotions. “I’ve learned to recognize my feelings and behaviors and ask for help when I need it,” she stated. “I know that I’m not alone, even if I feel like I am.”

Adamson also shared that adhering to a strict schedule and pursuing educational goals has been beneficial to her recovery efforts by diminishing feelings of insecurity and lack of control. Adamson currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Health Sciences and a minor in human sexuality, and she is set to graduate from UVU’s nursing program in May. She is also happily married and is a mother to three children.

Adamson concluded that she now feels like she has full control of her life. “It’s actually pretty liberating once I understood that I could control as much or as little about my life as I wanted,” she shared. “Where I go, what I do, who I spend my time with, … all of these things are my decision to make.”

“The first few years of my recovery, I just wanted to get rid of the painted ‘defective’ sign across my life, … [but] it wasn’t until I realized that there was no sign to get rid of in the first place, that I began to think of myself as a survivor rather than a victim,” Adamson shared. “That was when my recovery became top priority. That was when I truly started to recover. I decided to stop hiding and live my life head-on.”

Rather than choosing bitterness and withdrawal, Adamson has become a vocal advocate for mental illness and has a deep passion for helping people affected by substance misuse and personal trauma. Adamson wants to provide this help as a nurse since, during her recovery journey, she “found so much strength, kindness, and compassion in [nurses’] eyes, even during the ugly times.”

“I’m now in a place where all I want to do is help others the way so many people helped me throughout my healing odyssey,” Adamson shared. “I want to be there for someone because someone was there for me.”

“That’s what life is all about, in my opinion. Being together because we’re in this together.”
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or severe trauma, you may reach the suicide prevention hotline at 988. If you are a witness of child abuse or neglect, you may reach out to the Child Abuse Intake Hotline at 1-(855) 323-3237. Additionally, you may contact UVU’s Mental Health Services either in person (SC 221), at their website, or by calling (801) 863-8876.