Waiting to pull into traffic I thought I saw a man with high tech prosthetic legs riding a motor scooter. When I was able to pull out, I felt compelled to speed up a bit and verify what I saw. Initially, I thought this looked risky. What happens when he puts a foot down at full stop? As a cyclist, I thought, “Good for you dude!” I collect stories of people who don’t quit living despite challenges. These observations continue to remind me to encourage people to never give up.
While finishing a run a little before 6 AM one day, I saw an elderly woman out for a walk pulling an oxygen bottle. “Wow!” I thought. She knows it’s important to keep moving even though she has to pull her oxygen supply. That looks really hard to do.
I love to see people overcoming odds, but I love the narrative stories of the folks we see. They aren’t different from us. They are us. They face extreme difficulties, serious illness, death, trauma, injury, addictions and disruptive family members. It’s just a matter of time until we face these challenges ourselves or through people we love.
Clients sometimes feel they are failures because they are depressed, anxious, or have a mental health diagnosis. On the contrary, what counselors see are people working to contend with extreme emotions, personal and family difficulties. It takes courage to face difficulties. People believe they are weak because they feel scared or worried, but we know anxiety and depression are not weakness.
People who lose a physical capability use tools to function such as the amputee on the scooter. Likewise, we use cognitive, emotional, and behavioral tools to overcome anxiety and depression. Today, more folks in our world recognize functional impairments from emotional and behavioral impairments are just as physical as the visible physical challenges.
David Barnhart, EdD
Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor