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Throughout my life, reflection has been a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, we must reflect inwards on ourselves to better understand who we are as people and to figure out how to grow into the best version of ourselves. On the other hand, reflecting on a certain experience can seem “uncomfortable” or “scary”, and dwelling on the “what could have been” for too long can feel like a slippery slope that sets you up for failure in your current journey. It is a type of skill that requires practice, just like learning a language or playing a musical instrument.

Personally, when I was younger, I often used to feign reflection and think towards the future instead, as it seemed to be the easiest option and most effective way to get to whatever my goal was. This was because I believed that the uncomfortableness of reflection and the anxiety it caused me was not worth the benefits that it might provide. Now, I relish the time that I take each day to reflect on my life, my memories, and the world around me, as I understand the necessity of reflection in my own mental health journey. Through practicing reflection, I have learned who I am, become more comfortable with that person, and come to many realizations about my mental health. I want to share some of these reflections with you all and hopefully talk about some mental health advocacy along the way. It is through sharing this that I hope I can convince some of you to also take time out of your day to reflect and maybe even share your stories with others.

I received the diagnosis of general anxiety disorder (GAD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was during my junior year of undergrad. It was after a tumultuous summer during which I decided to completely change my major from to in order to align with my growing interest in foreign language and linguistics. The major identity shift between this version of myself that I had been slowly building since my teens to a scary unknown version of myself in this new field caused me to spend much of that summer reflecting on my own identity and feelings. I had visited the counseling center at my undergrad’s health center on and off the first few years that I was there, but I took advantage of the service during that time in order to have some assistance working through the whirlwind of anxiety and uncertainty that I felt like I was facing. It was then that I heard the terms GAD and ADHD being used to help explain experiences and feelings that I was dealing with on an almost daily basis.

Though there was a sense of relief in having a name for what I was experiencing, I remember finding this diagnosis to be almost unbelievable at first. This was because I had so many preconceived notions of what somebody with anxiety or somebody with an attention disorder looked like and none of these notions fit with the image I had of myself in my head. How could someone who had a 4.0 have ADHD? How could someone who was extremely active in extracurriculars have GAD? How could I have ADHD and GAD and be where I was in life? Obviously, I know now that the answers to these questions are simple - a person’s mental health does not dictate what they are capable of - but it took time and reflection practice to find and accept this truth and to understand why these problematic questions came to my mind in the first place. I had to start really reflecting inwards in order to become comfortable with this new Chase, ADHD and GAD included. I had to let go of these conceptions of how I believed that people are supposed to be and who I believed that I was in order to arrive at the reality of who I am. I had to learn to accept the truth that we’re all capable of anything and that this diagnosis changed nothing about who I was.

Through further practice of deep reflection, more therapy, and learning to live with my own mental health situation, I have moved past these notions and even become comfortable talking about my disorders and their role in my life. Though it seemed scary at first to out myself as someone who had disorders to others, I often found that this work helped facilitate some of the best realizations, reflection, and growth that I experienced. Many of my friends shared their own stories with me which helped to dismantle the idea that our mental health can limit us. This would eventually turn into others coming to me when I began to share my story while volunteering for mental health advocacy programs.

I know now that much of this initial shock and my initial issues in dealing with my mental health were due to societal pressures that we can fight by advocating for mental health services and putting neurodiverse people in the spotlight to show how capable we really are. Through sharing my story on the We Matter Too blog and being in this spotlight, I hope to share with you all the truth that we’re all capable of anything. As well, I’m hoping that my story about my relationship with reflection inspires you to reflect more often and to challenge your preconceived notions and become your best selves.

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