A man in a wheelchair closes his eyes in meditation with his hands resting on his lap; behind him are organic shapes showing different soundscapes used in mediation music

Mental Health Awareness Month

May was designated National Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949 by the United States Congress due to the increased number of veterans suffering from mental illnesses after returning from World War II. It amazes me that almost 75 years later we still have stigmas in regards to mental health.  Because of these stigmas a lot of people don’t seek help and suffer in silence.

Living with SMA means dealing with challenges

Similar to the soldiers coming home from war, people who have to deal with a disability like spinal muscular atrophy have to deal with challenges. Due to my SMA, I have had to face many challenges and limitations throughout my life. From a young age. I have had to learn to adapt to a world that is not always accessible. Because of this, I have learned to advocate for myself.

For me, meditation helps me cope and thrive

Through all of this, my mental health has been a crucial factor in my ability to cope and thrive. One of the tools that has been most helpful for me is meditation. Meditation is a practice that involves training the mind to focus and be present in the moment. Over the years it has shown to have numerous benefits for mental health. These benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and increasing resilience.

For me, meditation has been a way to cultivate a sense of inner peace and calm, even in the face of challenging circumstances. When I meditate, I am able to tune out distractions and worries. This makes it easier for me to connect with my deeper self. I have found that meditation helps me stay centered and grounded, even when things feel overwhelming and uncertain.

Meditation is not a magic cure all. It can take a lot of practice and dedication to develop the habit. But for me it has been well worth the effort. I try to meditate every day. It doesn’t have to take too long. I find 10 to 15 minutes can make a big difference in my mental state.

Lucky to have a loving and supportive family

Another key factor in my mental health journey has been the love and support of my family.  I am lucky to have a close-knit family who have always been there for me, no matter what. They have supported me through surgeries, hospital stays, and everyday challenges of living with spinal muscular atrophy. They have also cheered me on through accomplishments and encouraged me through setbacks.

Sense of community

But even beyond my immediate family, I have found a sense of community and belonging through connecting with others who share my experiences. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing here. Finding a sense of solidarity and mutual understanding can be incredibly validating and empowering.

Our mental health is a vital aspect of overall health. It is especially important for those of us living with a disability like spinal muscular atrophy. I have found that practices like meditation and the support of loved ones can be incredibly helpful in building a strong and resilient mentality.

Remember by taking care of your own mental health you will be able to better face the challenges of living with your disability and find meaning and joy in your life despite the limitations.

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