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Mental Health Problems A Sign Of Weakness?

Posted on March 02 2019

By Dave Brennan: Dave Brennan -Author

I have been coping with anxiety since I was a child. Since my earliest memories, anxiety has been a constant companion, weaving its way through the tapestry of my life. My journey began in the structured environment of a parochial school, where strict rules often felt like barriers to expressing my true self. Coupled with an inherent shyness, these early years laid the groundwork for a challenging path ahead. I was always kind of shy, which did not help matters either. Moving onto the public school system in the fifth grade, I felt more relaxed but was also dealing with many new changes: a new school, new teachers, new classmates, and new friends. My share of hardships went on and on through junior high, high school, and eventually college. Fast forward to today, married and working full-time, there are days I feel like the anxiety I suffered all of these years never went away. 

What if my classmates found out?

I was not diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder until I was a young adult. As a child, seeking therapy was uncommon and I feared if I did that this may be viewed as some type of weakness. Besides, what if my classmates found out about it? I would be utterly devastated if they did. How I best-relieved stress and anxiety in my younger years was by talking to my parents and my maternal grandmother. They seemed to understand the best and I was comfortable speaking with them. This helped me through many rough times. But what if there might have been something else I could have done to cope?

Discovering New Horizons And Finding Ways To Cope

Recently, I've been introduced to the concept of coloring therapy for adults—a practice gaining traction for its mental health benefits. Despite the skepticism rooted in my own preconceptions about age and appropriateness, I'm intrigued by the potential solace it offers. Perhaps it's time to revisit the joys of my childhood through a new lens. Thisactivity of coloring is known to be a great anxiety management tool.

Maybe I am seeing it too much as a step backward, that I am too old to start coloring again or that it might come easier if I had children. But there is such a thing as coloring therapy for adults.

Give coloring a try with these free "In The Moment" coloring pages from the HOPE Gallery.

Reflecting on my childhood, I found escape in the worlds created by action figures and sketches. Coloring, too, was a cherished activity, albeit sometimes feeling more like a timed obligation than a creative outlet. Today, I see coloring in a new light—a bridge to mindfulness and tranquility, free from the constraints of time and expectation. Back then, I could not truly appreciate the beauty of coloring when I knew it was something I had to do. However, that is no longer the case.

Fighting the demons with therapy, medication, mindfulness

As I became older, I did seek therapy, medication, and coping techniques like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and listening to nature sounds. These have all been helpful in fighting the demons that come from anxiety and depression. I do know how much I appreciate seeing an array of colors. For example, walking into my office on a cold, rainy day, yet seeing a shelf of different colored books does brighten my day and puts me in a better mood.

I have not yet picked up an adult coloring book, though I am considering purchasing one. It is a great idea to have an opportunity to escape into a calming world of coloring pages, particularly at the end of a stressful day of work. I could set aside some time to appreciate the beauty of my own artwork and allow the colors to just take me away. Whoever thought that something that we grew up with and enjoyed as children would be as helpful as an adult?


Coloring can be an effective mental health support system

Thinking about it now, I wish I had stuck with coloring all along. It brings back good memories and makes me wonder about the ways coloring could have aided me to get through some rough times that I have gone through over the years. Although life has gotten busier and I have more responsibilities outside of work, I do not have many hobbies. I would like to get into one that I find pleasurable and emotionally stimulating. Besides, I could use some new forms of relaxation.

Dave Brennan
You-Color Contributor
B.A. - Psychology
B. A. - Communication

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