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"Photography has been one of my wellness tools for a long time. I can usually count on getting out and taking pictures to cheer me up. So, I jumped at the chance to participate in PhotoVoice and receive photography training. I have really enjoyed the process of telling my story by capturing images and writing. I can’t thank COVA enough for this opportunity."



Some days the hardest thing to do is to leave the house because of my anxiety. When I get overwhelmed and reach my limit to process stimulation, a protective mechanism in my mind kicks in. I start to feel like I’m not present in my surroundings, as if I’m watching a dream. My mind can’t keep up with the pace of things happening around me. The world doesn’t appear real, and I feel alone. However, things around me don’t stop. People bump into me or get angry because I am in their way or not responding to them. People’s reactions make me more anxious. It’s dangerous and almost impossible to function in public like this. I feel like there’s nothing I can do except go home and crawl back in bed. Then the cycle starts again ...



There have been times in my life when I felt completely “stuck” in the dark shadows. I could not imagine things getting better, and I had no idea how to take the first step towards feeling better. At one of the worst of those times, I ended up taking a journey that really changed my life. With gentle nudges from friends, I found an organization that helped me realize that I could get myself “unstuck.” I didn’t feel better right away, but I had a vision of how to move upward. I could finally see the set of steps I needed to take in order to get to a brighter place in my life. I truly appreciate those who nudged me on the difficult steps of this journey. I don’t know if I’ll ever find the words to tell them thank you.



One of the most important things I’ve learned is the importance of self care. When living with illness, all aspects of your daily life become especially important to wellness … nutrition, sleep, exercise, relaxation, friends and family. I used to think it was very important not to “oversleep”, because sleeping a long time might exasperate my illness. I realized that I am often my own worst critic, and I have to remember to go easy on myself. Sleep is restorative, and sometimes you just need to rest. Over time and with help from those who care about me, I’ve learned to recognize my needs, and I developed the ability to meet them. Sometimes I need to take care of myself … read a good book and tuck myself in.