Age three. My first dance class.
Picture an exceptionally small little girl with all of the worries in the world.
I didn’t know how to accept my feelings. I didn’t know how to process my emotions.
Age thirteen. In therapy for eight years. Still learning how to deal with my anxiety. Still learning how to accept that I was living with a mental illness. Still learning to admit to myself that I was living with a mental illness.
Age twenty-three. Celebrating twenty years of dance in the studio I love so much.
I have finally learned how to live with my mental illness. I have finally learned how to accept that my Anxiety and my Depression do not define me.
Two weekends ago, I had the honor and privilege of celebrating my 20th year recital- living my life on stage surrounded by the people I love the most. When I look back on my life, there is no possible way for me to do so without thinking about how much dancing has saved me.
Living with a mental illness (or illnesses, in my case) means that I treat every day a little bit differently than someone without a mental illness does. Some days, I have to cancel plans. Some days, I run late. Some days, I’m stuck in bed. Some days, I don’t leave the bathroom. Some days, my emotions get to me, and I cry for no reason.
But, some days are good. Some days, I am excited to take on the day. Some days, I look forward to what the unknown will bring me.
I have worked hard to learn how to live around the type of day I am having. I am still working at it. It’s not an easy process. I am still learning how to live my life despite my crippling anxiety. As I have lived with myself for 24 years, I feel pretty confident knowing how to read my body and my mind, and knowing when I need to fight, and when I need to take flight. Some days, my anxiety gets so bad that I am in flight even before I step out of bed. But other days, other battles are worth the fight.
Dancing is a part of me. I am the best me when I am dancing. My Anxiety and my Depression know they aren’t allowed in the studio. They don’t get to me while I’m dancing. Anxiety has taken so much away from my life- but she will never take dancing from me.
I won’t let her.
2013. 15 years.
You lift me. You make me a better woman.
Thank you for twenty beautiful years of love, dedication, and dance.
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TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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