Taming The Lion Of Anxiety And Depression
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and as someone who has dealt with anxiety, and depression on and off for most of my life. One of the ways that I can think of to describe it would be a foggy dream sequence that is sometimes seen in the movies where a person is trying their hardest to get a message across, but they are not seen or heard by anyone or anything in their surroundings.
This part of my story began in elementary school when I was still too young to recognize what was happening. School quickly became one of my triggers for anxiety, after experiencing a great deal of bullying from my peers, and mistreatment from adults.
Children learn from adults how to treat others. Within my school environment, I was surrounded by many adults that were not very kind. One memory that sticks out vividly was when I was in second grade having an outdoor field day to celebrate the end of the year. I practiced for months to participate in the wheelbarrow race. I did not think about being as fast as the other children, what was important to me was being able to do something just like everyone else.
As a person who has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair, I cannot begin to explain how freeing it is when you do not have to think about potential obstacles. I finished the race, and one of the parent judges decided that she wanted to give me a blue ribbon for my participation. After receiving the ribbon, the school gym teacher stated how she thought I was not supposed to receive anything. I am not quite sure what her rationale was behind that, but all of the pride that I felt by accomplishing that goal vanished in an instant. That was one of the earliest seeds of doubt, and examples of being “different” that sticks out in my mind.
I am older now and can rationalize some of the experiences I have faced growing up and throughout my life. Depression and anxiety can play games with your mind. They trick you into believing the negative things that you hear others say, or the insecurities that you feel about yourself. When you struggle with something like depression or anxiety you often tend to wear different masks depending on who you are around, and how much you let people in. Everyone has insecurities that others may not be aware of, and that they may not be able to fully articulate.
Having a physical disability has added a whole different layer. It has blessings and drawbacks. It can help to develop a strength to persevere, but at times I have felt the need to prove to myself, and others, that I can keep up. Often this causes a sense of anxiety that can cause the mind to overthink.
Finding ways to cope with one’s mental health looks different for everyone. It is important to try to find ways to let feelings out whether that be counseling, writing in a journal, or talking to a friend or family member that you trust. When you can open up to other people about your challenges, they begin to understand, and this process of opening up, and finding ways to cope may be long and is just that, a process, there are going to be ups and downs, but it can help you through things that may seem insurmountable. This might be a battle you face every day, but it is one that can be overcome.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Know that you are not alone if you need assistance finding Mental Health Resources contact a local doctor, counselor or call 1–800–662-HELP (4357)