By Melissa Boles, President of the Columbia River Mental Health Foundation
Today, on World Mental Health Day, I want to tell you a story.
When I was 5, my father tried to teach me how to ride a bike without training wheels. It was the first time (that I can remember) where something didn’t come easy to me. I couldn’t figure it out right away. After much frustration for us both, I gave up. I insisted it would never matter that I couldn’t ride a bike.
When I was 8, I was playing outside with my Dad and sister when suddenly Victoria, who was not yet 5, was riding a bike. It didn’t come easy to her, but she kept trying. And trying. And trying. My sister is someone who doesn’t take no for an answer. So she rode her bike, sans training wheels, before I could.
Eventually I learned, finally letting my Dad teach me after he caught me trying to teach myself in his perfectly manicured front lawn. But this process didn’t stop. I do it all the time, though the most dramatic example of this is when I couldn’t learn to drive a stick shift and got out of the car after it stalled in the intersection.
My perfectionism and insistence on doing everything right the first time stems from the fact that the things I love (reading, writing, connecting with others) have come easy to me since before I can remember. It also is a marker of ADHD, and can lead to depression and anxiety.
Which leads us here, to World Mental Health Day. I talk about my mental health because I know there are people out there dealing with the same things I’ve dealt with for 31 years, and they might think they’re alone. But they’re not. You’re not. We’re here, together. Check on each other. Tell your story. Celebrate mental health.