|My view from the front steps of my office building on a recent evening.|
Do you ever wonder how you got from your childhood to where you are now in one piece?
I get emails from people who have found my blog and want to know more about how I deal with OCD and/or depression and anxiety.
I am not a medical expert or a therapist. I am a person who has mental illnesses. I try to share my experiences with different treatments and different ways that I have dealt with OCD, depression, and anxiety.
It still surprises me, though, that I seem like someone who has reached a place where I can be of help to anyone else. Like someone who has a good life in spite of having mental illnesses and setbacks along the way.
Believe me, I have not overcome all the obstacles that mental illnesses cause. I’m still trying to figure out who I am.
But I have managed to build a good life.
What helped me do that?
Despite some difficult times during my childhood and teen years, I had the benefit of protective factors.
“Protective factors are individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviors that reduce the effects of stressful life events. These factors also increase an individual’s ability to avoid risks or hazards, and promote social and emotional competence to thrive in all aspects of life, now and in the future.”
The CDC lists the protective factors of school connectedness, parent engagement in schools, and positive parenting practices. There are more, of course.
Recently, I’ve written about two parts of my life that I define as protective factors for me. I had people in my life—whether related to me by blood or not—who helped to nurture me and encourage me as a young person.
And I had books that taught me and inspired me.
Knowledge about protective factors comforts me.
As a young person, I had help in several forms that led me to eventually get treatment, begin thinking in different and healthier ways, and start living the life that I wanted to live.
All of that help didn’t have to come from the ones we think must provide it, our parents.
We all have protective factors that help counteract the bad times in life. We can celebrate and nurture those factors.
I wasn’t alone as a child. I’m not alone now.
And neither are you.
So how did I make it from childhood to where I am now in one piece? With a lot of help along the way.
What are some of the protective factors in your life?