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.