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Express Care - Bettendorf

3415 53rd Avenue
Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

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Express Care - Moline

106 19th Avenue
Suite 103
Moline, Illinois 61265

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Express Care - North Port

3426 North Port Drive
Suite 200
Muscatine, Iowa 52761

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Express Care - SouthPark Pointe

3904 16th Street
Moline, Illinois 61265

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Proctor First Care - East Peoria

2535 E. Washington St.
East Peoria, Illinois 61611

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Proctor First Care - Peoria Heights

1120 E. War Memorial Drive
Peoria Heights, Illinois 61616

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Ankeny)

1055 SW Oralabor Rd
Ankeny, Iowa 50023-1280

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Bett Plex)

5185 Competition Dr.
Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Jordan Creek)

180 Jordan Creek Parkway, Suite 120
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Lindale)

153 Collins Road Northeast
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Marshalltown)

55 Central Iowa Drive
Marshalltown, Iowa 50158

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Morton)

1909 North Morton Avenue
Morton, Illinois 61550

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (North Crossing)

2134 Logan Ave.
Suite A
Waterloo, Iowa 50703

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Peck's Landing)

1940 Blairs Ferry Road
Suite 104
Hiawatha, Iowa 52233

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Peoria)

8914 N. Knoxville Avenue
Peoria, Illinois 61604

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Prairie Parkway)

5100 Prairie Parkway
Suite 101
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (San Marnan)

1655 E San Marnan Dr.
Suite H
Waterloo, Iowa 50702

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (United Medical Park)

1731 W Ridgeway Ave.
Suite 100
Waterloo, Iowa 50701

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Washington)

209 N. Cummings Lane
Washington, Illinois 61571

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waukee)

950 E. Hickman Road
Waukee, Iowa 50263

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waverly)

101 Cedar River Pkwy
Suite 101
Waverly, Iowa 50677

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express at Duck Creek

1417 KImberly Road
Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

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UnityPoint Clinic - Family Medicine and Walk-In Care - Cascade

610 2nd Ave. NE
Cascade, Iowa 52033

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UnityPoint Clinic Kenyon Road - Walk-In

800 Kenyon Road
Suite R
Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - East

1550 University Avenue
Dubuque, Iowa 52001

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - West

2255 JFK Road
Dubuque, Iowa 52002

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Urgent Care - Altoona

2720 8th St. SW
Altoona, Iowa 50009

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Urgent Care - Anamosa

1795 Hwy 64 East
Anamosa, Iowa 52205

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Urgent Care - Ankeny

3625 N. Ankeny Blvd.
Suite E
Ankeny, Iowa 50023

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Urgent Care - Hiawatha

1001 N. Center Point Road
Suite A
Hiawatha, Iowa 52233

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Urgent Care - Ingersoll

2103 Ingersoll Ave., Ste. 2
Des Moines, Iowa 50312

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Urgent Care - Lakeview

6000 University Avenue
Suite 101
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

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Urgent Care - Marion

2992 7th Ave.
Marion, Iowa 52302

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Urgent Care - Merle Hay

4020 Merle Hay Road
Suite 100
Des Moines, Iowa 50310

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Urgent Care - Southglen

6520 SE 14th St.
Des Moines, Iowa 50320

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Urgent Care - Sunnybrook

5885 Sunnybrook Drive
Sioux City, Iowa 51106

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Urgent Care - Urbandale

5200 NW 100th Street
Urbandale, Iowa 50322

Urgent Care - Westside

2375 Edgewood Rd SW
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404

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Pretending Like Everything is Fine - When it's Not

Jennifer Kirchoff Snuggling with her dog; Pretending Like Everything is Fine - When it's Not

Mental illness is so hard, especially when you—and those around you—experience it at the same time.

nullI know that now but didn’t always. As a nurse patient care coordinator for UnityPoint at Home, my career started back when I was 14 years old as a dietary aide in the same nursing home where my mother worked as a nurse. She taught me a lot about nursing, and she taught me a lot about mental illness.

Although I didn’t understand it at the time, my mom is how I first experienced what mental illness is like. She was extremely ill. When she was only 54 years old, I made the decision to put her in a nursing home. It was a lot to care for her while married and raising my own young child. She died just three months later. And while my relationship with her death is complex, admittedly, I felt some relief. She, nor I, had what we needed to properly care for her. It was a helpless feeling—one I hoped to never feel again.

Soon after her passing, I recognized some similar mental illness symptoms in my husband. He was depressed, angry and often couldn’t get out of bed. He had always been that way, but her death opened my eyes to seeing him more clearly. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and severe anxiety disorder. We knew he needed help, which led to committals in mental health institutions. The anxiety I felt while dealing with all of this was overwhelming.

There are no handbooks when it comes to this stuff. I felt very lost, so I started to do research. I bought every book I could find on managing bipolar disorders as a caregiver and how to cope with it and found an online support group. I started applying what I learned, and he became more receptive, but it wasn’t fixed. I knew he needed more help, but the lack of available services left us both struggling.

In the years that followed, his issues led to my own. My heart would race. My head was foggy. I couldn’t make decisions. I knew I needed help. I started by talking with my primary care provider about how I was feeling. I answered screening questions honestly and was put on two prescriptions for anxiety and situational depression. Those medications brought me back to me. I could function again. I could think straight.

In 2019, my husband died due to an issue unrelated to his mental illness. As a 40-year-old widow raising a teenager alone, I knew I needed more help. Besides continuing on the anxiety and depression medications, I reached out to a therapist through the UnityPoint Health Employee Assistance Program. I don’t publicly talk about my husband or mother’s death much, but when I do, I feel proud to still be standing after everything I’ve dealt with. I can weather just about any storm that comes my way now.

My life experiences have taught me life is about learning lessons and forgiving yourself. Dealing with mental illness in my own life, and with my loved ones, showed me how to be compassionate. It made me a better person, a better nurse.

nullDon’t get me wrong, I’m still a work in progress. I have days I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m grateful to have co-workers who help me realize when it’s time for a day off. On those days, I focus on organizing my space, taking a breather, pampering myself or playing with my four furry pups.

Everyone has mental health struggles. People may be reluctant to come forward, because they see it as a sign of weakness. The best advice I can offer, which took me a long time to internalize, is to try not to care what people think. It’s freeing. Going through life trying to pretend everything is fine helps no one.

Get the help you need, for you. If you don’t know where to start, try doing what I did – talk to your primary care doctor.

- Jennifer Kirchoff, RN