I was born with crossed eyes, looking permanently confused and awkward. Because my eyes didn’t work together my brain could not perceive depth. I ran into things and couldn’t catch a ball. It made me jittery, nervous, and always on high alert.

Don’t feel sorry for me.

During my school years, I was scrawny and sickly. Mumps, strep throat, pneumonia, mono. Each year I would miss at least two weeks of school at home fighting fevers, rashes, ear aches, and the flu. I was terribly shy. Certain everyone else was smarter and more capable than me, I faded into the background. If attention came my way, I felt sick and wanted to melt into the ground.

These were all signs.

As puberty kicked in, I tried to fit in any way I could. Still convinced my personality had no worth, I became a chameleon and did whatever it took to get other people’s approval. My awkwardness found a home in the swimming pool where I could keep my ugly face in the water, not talk to anyone, and burn off the nervous energy I possessed.

I was avoiding the problem.

I developed anxiety as a way to cope with myself and others. Sometimes it resulted in outbursts of anger but more often I felt like a skittish deer with ears alert for the next predator. My anxiety then turned into depression. I came up with new ways to cope with my low self-worth, sadness, and negative thoughts.

I was a mess.

I believed I was no good to myself, my family, or the world. I was bitter, scared, weak, and defensive. After over 30 years of suffering, I begged God to take this away from me and He was silent.

And it was all a gift.

This is what I have to offer you. My weakness. The battle was the best thing that ever happened to me. I want to give you hope that whatever struggle you face may be the biggest gift you’ve received. I can offer you notes from my journey, my mishaps, and my weakness.

Once diagnosed with clinical depression, I followed a purely Western medicine course of treatment which did not solve the problems. Then I came upon new ways of thinking about my illness; nutritional treatment, cognitive behavior therapy, and an overall acceptance of my worth.

All these steps led me to health.

And now I have something to offer.

Do you believe that you have nothing to offer?

It's not true.

Are you stuck not knowing what to do?

You must search for answers and ask for help.

Are you denying the root of your struggle?

That's not getting you anywhere.

Have you been told what to do but it's not working?

Try something else!

Today, I’m a better version of myself than was possible without the struggle. I found it by becoming healthy not only mentally, but physically and spiritually too.

Health means more than a strong body. It means mental health skills to cope with life. It means not being afraid of the spiritual part of yourself but embracing it. Our physical, mental, and spiritual components are inextricably connected. Each one is influenced by the others in a magical dance that brings us down or skyward.

I’m on my way up.

If someone would had told me I had something to offer the world, I would have laughed in their face. Now I know it’s true. We each have something unique and special to offer humanity.

But first we need to be healthy.

Our struggle is the sign that points directly to our pathway to health.

It’s happening for us, not to us.