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  • Writer's pictureAnne Smith

Look Up

This one is personal. When I was growing up I experienced and dealt with a lot of anxiety and probably depression. Back then (I’m almost 50 now 🤯😳😱🫢) there was not a lot of talk about mental health or help out there for children or adolescents. I had trouble sleeping and eating sometimes. My mom was a big help to me in that she acknowledged it, was loving and helped as best she could. But I wasn’t given any education about anxiety, what it looks like, what it feels like, how common it is. I wasn’t given any tools to manage or cope with it when it was in a heightened state. And I certainly wasn't given any medication for it. One thing that I do think saved me back then was that I was a runner (still am) and that was my therapy.

I have since received a great amount of education (I actually got a Masters in Social Work after college) and therapy and even medication. It has taken all of those things plus my Christian faith to help me live with and manage my anxiety. I am thankful for all of it and am happy to say that anxiety no longer paralyzes me or affects me the way that it once did. It is not gone completely because, come on, LIFE hahaha!

I share all of this because I am so thankful that the stigma for mental health is slowly yet truly receding. It is not at all today what it was when I was growing up and there is so much more help and understanding now vs then. I share this because I am beyond grateful that the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters here in Norfolk, VA has built a pediatric mental health hospital that provides inpatient and outpatient services so children and teens can receive the wholistic help they deserve. They can receive help sooner rather than later to learn how to cope, to begin to know healing and to have the opportunity to thrive with incredible support. None of us can do this kind of work on our own. Trust me, I tried.

This brings me to this painting. “Look Up” I titled it. One of the strategies for lessening acute anxiety is pretty simple. It’s to take a walk outside and literally LOOK UP. Something happens physically and neurologically and then emotionally when you do that. Try it one day. I am donating this painting to a fundraiser for CHKD's new Children's Pavilion because I am grateful they are here. I am grateful there is a team of caring and qualified people to help young children and teens who are hurting and feel hopeless. And I hope by sharing this painting and my story I can help contribute to the lessening of the stigma of mental illness. I hope this helps.

If you are interested in learning more about CHKD's pediatric mental health hospital and ways you can help click here. In the meantime, maybe head outside and LOOK UP.


Anne Temple

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