When I was a senior in high school, I penned a poem entitled “The Ladder.” Above the title, I drew a simple picture of a ladder with a disproportionately large question mark at the top. Boldly printed above the question mark was the word “HAPPINESS.” My empty, desolate teenage soul was desperate to understand what happiness felt like. Was it ever going to be possible for me to “be” happy? If I reached the top of this “ladder,” would I experience a glimmer of hope? Or would I remain forever stuck in the swamp of darkness that cemented me at the bottom, preventing me from taking that first step?
Anxiety has accompanied me my whole life. Depression has visited me periodically during the tougher times. I would find a way to push away the thoughts, to right my ship, and get back to happier thoughts.
My struggles began in adolescence. My once smiling and sunny demeanor began to change and I had difficulty coping with life, especially social situations. I could be the life of the party or curled up in a ball in my room. While I was known as the girl with a smile on my face, that smile masked dark thoughts and depression.
My life has been marked by loss and resiliency. Throughout my childhood I navigated many deaths, most due to the aging family I entered as a late-in-life baby, but others that occurred much before their time.
To me anxiety feels chaotic and out of control. Life is happening around me, and I don’t have ability to slow it down. In this situation, I try to organize the external chaos so my internal environment will start to feel less stressed and more organized.
Just recently I was elected President of the Ed Lally Foundation. I am honored and humbled by the trust of Jordan and Megan and the rest of the board.
I have been on boards before; finance committees, school boards, recreation boards. Those were easy and comfortable for me. I can be the numbers guy. But, President of a mental health awareness board. This is different. This is outside my comfort zone. And that is why I said yes without hesitation.
Whatever works for you, no matter how busy you think you are, you need to make that time for yourself, for your brain. There are no AP classes, sports awards, job requirements, or people that are more important than your own brain health.