KayleighPic.jpgI have battled more at the age of 25 than most humans do in a lifetime. Take a moment to think of the most dreadfully painful experience you have had – I can empathize with you. In my life, I have overcome two near death experiences. One at the age of 11 which left me in a coma, the other at 21 where I was fighting against a collapsed lung and losing a lot of blood. My suffering has not only been painful physically but mentally. 

Here is my story:

At 11 years old I was active, energetic, and loving life. At 11 I was also struck with a falling basketball backboard, becoming immediately unconscious and put into a medically induced coma. Beating the odds, I was able to come out of the coma. Although, the rest of my childhood would never be the same. Following this event, I was constantly in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy and tutoring year around. I recognized that I was different from the “other kids,” causing me a lot of frustration and anxiety.

Perseverance, determination, and resiliency was instilled in me at a young age.

After several years, I started fitting back into the “normal” lifestyle.  I was a three-sport varsity athlete in high school, and went on to get a field hockey scholarship at Bryant University.  At that point in life, I felt like I had everything I wanted and events were going as they should.  However, I had so many emotions and pressure from all directions.  My parents were in the middle of a divorce, I was focusing on graduation, and there was so much expected from me.  Again; I persevered.

The summer going into my senior year of college I lived in Boston.  I was finally happy with life, I had my core friends, my family was in a good spot, and I was a year away from finishing my biggest accomplishment; graduating from college. Yet again, I was forced to face something that has changed my life forever: I was stabbed 10 times by a complete stranger on the street on my way home from work. I went into a state of depression, I was anxious all the time, felt down, and could not connect with people. I pushed it aside and went back to Bryant on time. Once I got cleared, I started playing field hockey for my final season.  Yet again; I persevered.  

My biggest lesson learned is that sometimes it seems impossible to cope with your anxiety and that it will never end, but you have to trust that the feelings are normal due to life events. They’re real, it’s not weakness and you will be able to find happiness again. I’ve endured things that an individual should never have to face.  Because I’ve faced so many trials and tribulations, I learned that it’s OK to except the feelings and be able to place it in a conscious space, continue on, and know that it’s who you are. The strength that individuals carry with them goes way beyond imaginable when faced with hardship. I’ve been at the lowest of lows in life and at the highest of highs. However, I wouldn’t change a thing to have the easy way out.  Anxiety and depression is a part of who I am and I am grateful for all the experiences I’ve encountered. 

Writing and speaking about my story is something that has become meaningful and therapeutic for me.  My passion is to keep encouraging and bringing awareness to anxiety, depression and random acts of violence.  With that being said, an organization like ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and AAAD, Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression helps me along with numerous others achieve that goal. I have decided to commit myself full time to make a change in the mental health community.  In doing that I will continue to heal and be fulfilled in pursuing my purpose throughout life.

Thank you,

Kayleigh Ballantyne