Therapy and Mental Health with SMA

Warning: This post discusses my experience with mental health including anxiety and depression. Reader discretion is advised.

Unique mental health concerns with SMA

I wanted to discuss my experience with therapy and mental health because it feels so unique because of the issues we as a spinal muscular atrophy community face daily.

I have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder and since it's mental health month, I felt that it's important to discuss my journey!

My body and mind were collapsing

I genuinely don't remember how I got diagnosed for both. I think that it was during a hospital visit when my lungs were collapsing and my whole mind and body were a mess.

My anxiety used to be so much worse, I felt like everything made me anxious honestly. I have no idea how my depression started, but I remember being so sad and alone during my senior year of high school.

My senior year was horrible

It wasn't senioritis. My senior year was just terrible. My best friend had left school and the ableism in my school district, especially in high school, was very apparent. I never got the support I needed. The depression worsened after I graduated.

Fast forward to now, the reality is that I'm doing better, but I still struggle sometimes. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me, but I'm working on ways to help that and how to channel that into something that will be more helpful.

Therapy challenges

Therapy has been rough for me. I felt like when I did therapy for a few years, my therapists would be stunned by my disability and the connection over what I was anxious or depressed about fell on deaf ears. I finally tried life coaching through one of my SMA friends, and it worked well for a while, but it unfortunately got too expensive so I had to stop.

I need to help myself

So, I've come to the realization that I have to help myself, which is hard, but I feel like it's the only way to help myself.

What helps me? I'm still trying to figure that out honestly. Currently it’s watching something, meditation, coloring, talking to someone who is a positive influence on me, hugging a stuffed animal, and medication if I really need it! Also putting on essential oils and music help a lot.

Moral of the story, I think despite therapy or anything else, you still have to figure some things out. I learned a while ago that therapy is not as much about solutions as it’s made out to feel like. I think it's just a place to vent honestly and then you figure out what's next.

There is no “fully healed”, no perfect ending with mental health, it's a constant journey. You will need to have good and bad days. Please don't give up. On the hard days, remember why you stayed, what small everyday things you love, your friends and what brings you genuine joy. It's okay to feel it even when it feels super heavy. You will make it through, I promise. You have options even if everything feels hopeless. Sending you love.

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