October is Mental Health Awareness Month. Because of this, I wanted to share my story and struggles. As a society we need to talk about mental health more. Every year, 1 out of 5 adults experience mental health issues. Sharing personal mental health experiences such as mine could potentially help people know they are not alone.
My experiences were better than they might have been because of physical activity and physical achievement. This early path led directly to what I do today as a Pilates instructor.
Since the age of 7 I have dealt with Dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Growing up with a learning disability is hard but to be honest, I am who I am today because of the obstacles I have had to overcome. School was never easy for me. Learning to read and comprehension were my biggest challenges. I developed a stutter due to the anxiety of the other children making fun of me. I hated school, and it was a daily struggle. Many children who suffer from ADHD grow up with low self esteem and struggle with depression throughout their adulthood. However, I was extremely lucky to not fall into this statistic. My parents knew it was important all children experience success in order to develop a healthy self esteem; even if that success was not in the classroom. They helped me find that success in figure skating. Everything I wasn’t in the classroom, I was on the ice. I was a completely different child on the ice. Skating helped me to grow up without medications. Most children suffering from ADHD are labeled as “naughty or difficult” kids in the classroom. Because I skated every weekday for 3-4 hours before school I was too tired to misbehave. It was most likely the exercise that helped give me some mental clarity.
In retrospect I am thankful for my struggles as a child. Though many children are not as lucky. 2 out of 3 children diagnosed with ADHD struggle in their adulthood with self esteem related issues. That is a huge number. My savior was skating. Skating provided a path outside of the classroom that lead me to career as a professional figure skater. Every child has a gift and deserves to experience success whether it be in the classroom, theatrical stage, athletic field, or in my case, the ice rink.
That physical activity has continued to help past my childhood and into adulthood. Looking to rehab skating injuries, I got into Pilates and fell in love with it. I became a Pilates instructor and have seen the health benefits of exercise in the lives of my clients. Getting an exercise program you love is easier than ever these days with lots of online options to do from home, on your schedule. Give yourself a boost and make it a goal to improve during Mental Awareness Month and for the rest of the year!