He died in a car accident and his death sent her spiraling into depression. Then in 2004, she was brutally raped, and faced a bout of unemployment.
After that, she just couldn't shake the funk.
"Right after [the rape] happened, I could only go about a mile away from my house," said Jamie, who lives in Decatur and asked that her last name not be used.
By then, Jamie was suffering from mental illness, a leading cause of disability for Americans ages 15 to 44.
During May, which is being observed nationally as Mental Health Month, health professionals are building awareness about mental disorders such as dysthmic disorder, or chronic, mild depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Like many other illnesses, mental disorder can range from mild to severe. Some people can function normally on a daily basis and others face lifelong deficiencies.
Dr. Jason Snow, a psychologist at the DeKalb Community Service Board, said individuals often do not seek the help early to deal with mental disorders.
"Stigmas oftentimes prevent people from coming in as quickly as they need to," Snow said. "They're afraid they're going to be judged or labeled negatively by friends, family and the community at large."
Jamie turned to the DeKalb Community Service Board for help in 2005 and continues to get medical treatment and counseling.
Snow, who treated patients for mental disorders for more than 20 years, said that while progress is being made, mental disorders are still stigmatized.
"It's still OK for you to say that you have a physical ailment, but if you have a mental challenge or difficulty you feel like it's not OK for you to disclose that."
Snow said the type and severity of an illness determines whether medication is needed. He suggests psychotherapy and counseling--, as an adjunct therapy, as the best treatment.
Jamie, who tried several medications before finding one that worked, said counseling has helped her.
"Just talking to someone who will not judge you is a huge help," she said. She encourages anyone struggling with mental illnesses to seek professional help.
"When you can wake up in the morning and know everything is gonna be OK, it's a wonderful feeling," she said.