Updated: May 3, 2022
I have heard it said that if you stick around the barbershop long enough, you are bound to get a haircut eventually. Well, I think if you hang around strong and courageous individuals sharing vulnerable stories, you just might just gain the strength and courage to be vulnerable yourself. There will likely be many different notions as to why I share this story with you today. People may say to get attention, pity, or to make people feel bad for me. If you have any of those notions, though, you are way off. I share this story with you all today because it scares me to death… and THAT is the problem!
I am not in a wheelchair, have not fought in a mangling war, haven’t had a life-altering stroke, and quite honestly, I have lived a pretty amazingly privileged life. I would even say I have had it VERY easy compared to most. I am, however, human. For the last three years, I have struggled with anxiety.. worrying...panic… whatever word you want to refer to it as. I am not here to sugarcoat it though; it has been hard! I think harder than the attacks that caused me to feel like I couldn’t breathe, didn’t want to be alone, or needing to get on anxiety medication...the hardest part was just admitting it. I went through moments of imposter syndrome, thinking to myself, “I am going to school to be able to help others with mental health and wellness, disabilities, and struggles. I can’t have them myself.” I do, though, and it’s okay.
The crazy thing is that my anxiety came out of nowhere. Yes, school was stressful, and transitions were hard, but honestly, life was really a cinch at the time. Perhaps it was brought to make me better at my job, to make me a better me, maybe, just maybe, it was ingrained in all that makes me, me for this exact moment in my life. Maybe we will never know, but there is one thing that I know… I am done hiding it. Done with this idea that it makes me any less me. Done worrying about anyone finding out because they may look at me differently, treat me differently. I think I have come to the realization that admitting that I struggle with anxiety has only made me more suited to be an OT. I mean, if I was put in front of two healthcare professionals, one with anxiety and one who had never experienced it themselves, and I was told to pick one, 10 times out of 10, I would choose the one with anxiety.
I have been absolutely overwhelmed with people sharing posts, sending messages and texts. You all have made me feel like I am living in a dream! For goodness sake, Senator Steve Daines shared my news story, how can you beat that. But as I sit here making moves with my business to advocate for mental health in agriculture and erase the stigma behind having mental health struggles or even physical struggles in the agricultural community, I realize that although it feels incredible to feel like I am on top of the world, it feels even better to come back down to earth and admit to being totally imperfectly me, totally human. Who am I to share vulnerable stories if I can’t share my own! So, this is me saying it loud and clear, I have struggled with mental health, and I have struggled even more with the stigma behind it and admitting to it, but it’s OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY all the time, even in the agricultural world. I think we too often jump to this idea that if you stuggle with any mental health issues that you are automatically suicidal and that scares people out of having the courage to talk about it at all, but that's not true. You can struggle with anxiety, depression, etc without being suicidal, I just wish I had only learned to talk about mental health sooner because I, like many, have lost loved ones to suicide, and if this blog makes even 1 person more comfortable talking about their struggles, every written word was worth it! So here is to being human and needing humans, I am here for you! Even strong walls shake sometimes, but the strongest walls let their supports keep them from falling.