OS client uses her own poetry to overcome mental health issues

Laura Swift

“I want to help people understand mental health issues through my poetry,” says Laura Swift, an Opportunity Services client. “Social anxiety is more than fear in the moment, it’s the over-analysis of what happened later, again and again in my head.” Laura is a 31-year-old Opportunity Services client in Waconia, Minnesota. She uses her own poetry to cope with mental illness. “I’ve been writing poetry since 5th grade,” says Laura. “I learned specific methods in school, but my own poetry is freeform and doesn’t follow rules.” If you get a chance to meet with Laura in person, she’s willing to recite the poetry for you on the spot. It’s amazing how she remembers lengthy poems with ease. “It’s something I’ve had to practice” Laura interjects, “I will recite the poem many times until I can remember it correctly.”

You wouldn’t know that it’s a struggle for Laura, unless she tells you. Laura is a very outgoing and honest individual who keeps her poetry silent at her new job at Walgreens. Opportunity Services helped Laura obtain her part-time customer service position at Walgreens nearly six months ago. Laura considers this job as a foot in the door because she’d like to become a Pharmacy Technician one day. While on the job, Laura works the register, helps customers, keeps the store looking good and unpacks new goods. “We’ve had no issues with Laura,” says Brandon Kuss, Walgreens Store Manager. “In fact, everyone on the team really enjoys having her onboard.” Walgreens is very understanding of people with disabilities and is currently striving to fill more than 20 percent of its workforce with disabled individuals.

“One of the biggest hurdles for Laura was the holidays,” says Amanda Olson, her Employment Specialist from Opportunity Services. “We were worried about how she would handle the busy store, but she was a rock star, handling everything with ease.” Laura said she coped with the busyness by talking herself out of negative situations and trying to get her mind on other things. She’s been panic attack free for nearly four months now. “I’m proud of how far I’ve come and hope I can help others to cope with their anxiety,” says Laura.

We’re proud of you too, Laura. Keep up the good work at Walgreens!