Staying Mentally Healthy
Last updated: May 2022
I’m in my mid 40’s and I find it encouraging that mental health has become more out in the open. I know living with spinal muscular atrophy has probably made me mentally tougher. However, there are lots of factors that I attribute to my mental toughness.
First, I grew up in a stable home. My parents are still married and provided me and my siblings with a safe and loving home. A supportive and loving family goes a long way in maintaining our mental health.
I also consider myself lucky in the sense my spinal muscular atrophy didn’t really start taking away my independence until my early 30s. This enabled me to live rather normally during my teenage years.
Difficult teen years
The teen years are most likely the toughest years for everyone. Living with a disability like spinal muscular atrophy can obviously make those years harder.
Even though I was independent during my teens, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t angry. I was still different. I walked funny, struggled to get out of chairs, and climbing steps was difficult. Participating in sports was never an option.
Anger can eat you up
Dealing with a disability during the teen years can be tough. Sometimes I let my anger get the best of me. This is something I want to warn the younger readers about. Anger can eat you up. It’s not good for our overall mental health.
I am by no means a psychiatrist or psychologist so take my advice with a grain of salt. I have experienced anger, frustration and disappointment when it came to dealing with my spinal muscular atrophy. The trick is not to stay in those emotions.
What is causing the jealousy?
When you feel negative emotions, start asking yourself why. What’s causing this, is it jealousy? Jealousy used to be a big issue for me. I’ve never been jealous over stuff.
What I’ve been jealous of has been others' ability to do things that I can’t. Some of these things people wouldn’t even think about as something to be jealous over. For instance being able to wake up in the morning and shower by myself, being able to lay down on the couch to watch a game and then being able to get up by myself and cook something to eat.
Dwelling on the negative emotions doesn't help
I could go on and on about things that I can’t do. Letting myself sit in those negative thoughts will never do me any good. Unfortunately there isn’t anything I can do to change those circumstances.
My tip to you is refocus that energy on what you can do. It’s not always easy but I have found if you make a concerted effort to think positively it will become easier. I consider my brain and mental health a muscle. Due to the spinal muscular atrophy it’s my strongest muscle.
Find your support systems. That can be your family, a mate, friend or even a professional.
Handling emotions helps you live your best life
Living with and handling the emotional side of a disability can be difficult at times. But it’s not impossible. There are a lot of us out here living our best lives. With some hard work I believe everyone can overcome the mental side of living with a disability. Don’t ever give up!
Have you shared your SMA diagnosis story with us yet?