The Challenges Of Mixed Deaf-Hearing Families

 

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Every family faces various challenges. Your teenage son has problems in school, your baby girl is on her difficult years, your spouse is too busy to pay attention to you, or your relatives are judgmental. The truth is, each home has a burden to bear. However, there are rather distinct challenges for a family with mixed deaf-hearing members.

Families that have deaf members typically face some communication difficulties, and these can cause trouble in social interactions, which consequently lead to hopelessness, withdrawal, stress, and anxiety.

People that are deaf are expected to adjust to their surroundings, so would it not only be reasonable to expect the same kind of understanding from those who are supposedly closest to you – your family? Explaining yourself or upholding your language always is quite tiring. When you are with your family, you should be relaxed and comfortable. Sadly, not all of these deaf and hard of hearing family members have loved ones that find the time and effort to communicate with them appropriately.

Family Life Experiences

Families with deaf members or families that are mostly deaf with hearing members have reported experiencing difficulty identifying which communication strategies they should learn and practice, as sometimes the challenges they face are also worsened by certain cultural identities – hearing or deaf.

An individual who was interviewed recalled how her family would tell her that she could hear them well when she wants to, but actually, she just got pretty used to lip reading. She became an expert lip reader that people would think she could hear perfectly. Her brother would be annoyed at her when she asks him to repeat what he said and would tell her why she would pretend not to hear. “I can’t help being deaf,” she said. She stated that she often felt pressured and anxious when she was with her family, and she thinks that they should also try their best to meet halfway for communication to be easier.

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Here are some experiences of other deaf and hard of hearing individuals with their own families.

Positive

  • “My loved ones tried learning sign language so they could better understand me.”
  • “My parents are very patient. They know that I have trouble understanding them, so they speak clearly and loudly.”
  • “My family and friends really love me. They make me feel comfortable and relaxed when we are together.”
  • “My family and I work hand in hand in seeking solutions to be able to live harmoniously. I feel so lucky.”

Negative

  • “My siblings don’t take time to talk to me, and they are often annoyed when I’m around.”
  • “My children are so impatient with me.”
  • My relatives tease me and backbite me even when I’m around. I know because they look at me, and then they laugh.”
  • “I always remind my spouse and kids that I am deaf.”
  • “I don’t get invited for family reunions and parties often. I guess they get tired of making an effort so I can understand.”

The Effect Of Being Deaf In A Hearing Family

Undoubtedly, it isn’t easy to be part of a mixed deaf-hearing family unit. Studies made on the subject revealed that deafness does have a substantial effect on these four areas:

  • Parenting – parents who are involved in the lives of their children.
  • Family interactions – the capacity of the family members to have clear and successful conversations, fix issues together, and build strong relationships.
  • Resources – the family’s access to materials and services for the deaf family member/s.
  • Emotional status – deaf and hearing family members are well-connected, support each other, and care for each other.

Of course, these areas are also affected by the family’s race and culture, economic status, and the deaf member’s level of hearing disability. However, the initial approach is to recognize the effects and knowing the factors that impact family dynamics.

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Strategies For Deaf And Hearing Families

  • Family members should think about the needs of their hearing and hard of hearing loved ones when they talk about how they should communicate with each other.
  • Commit to making time for family discussions regarding issues and topics that come up during the day or week and then find ways to help each other.
  • Discuss and create communication techniques together.
  • Don’t laugh at your deaf siblings or parents. It’s total not cool.
  • If you are a deaf member, ask your loved ones to repeat what they said if it isn’t clear to you. This is a great way of self-checking as well.
  • It is disrespectful and unfair not to face your deaf loved one when you are speaking to them. Don’t make it harder for them to communicate.
  • Keep an open mind and be supportive of your deaf loved one’s disability.
  • Although your hearing family members have learned to do the sign language, it’s not going to be that easy. Be patient with them, and don’t expect too much. Meet them halfway.

Conclusion

You will grow closer and have a better relationship with your family if you learn to create strategies for connecting and communicating effectively with your loved ones. You should be proud of what you have surpassed as a family and acknowledge that you are tougher when you are together – hearing or not.

 

 

How To Ensure Mental Health Stability When You’re Newly Deaf

I never had a hearing problem during my childhood years. I could always hear my friends running down from the end of the block, asking me to play with them. Before they turned up in our doorsteps, I was already waiting for them on the sidewalk. Then, when I entered high school, the choir teacher realized that I had a perfect pitch, which would not be possible if I could not hear very well. I even got into a college scholarship program because of my newfound singing abilities.

However, everything changed when a drunk driver hit me while I was crossing the street after work. It was a red light, but the guy must have missed it due to intoxication. I blacked out as soon as I collided with his car, though, so I did not know that the side of my head hit the pavement hard.

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When I woke up, everything hurt, especially the left side of my body. As it turned out, that’s what touched the road first. The doctors and police officers said that I was lucky that none of my internal organs or bones ruptured and that the driver didn’t run me over. I didn’t notice it quickly, but I knew what they were saying because I could read their lips. Then, I started freaking out when I realized that I could not hear a thing anymore. I kept on thrashing until the nurses had to sedate me to calm me down.

When I opened my eyes the next day, it was already nighttime, and the visiting hours were over, so I was alone in my room. I tried watching TV, in denial of my hearing loss. However, even with the volume reaching 100, I could not figure out what the TV characters were saying. I began to shed tears silently, unsure of what tomorrow would bring.

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The Instability

A doctor visited me later and explained to my parents and me that I was suffering from a hearing loss. He said, “We know it’s temporary, but we don’t know when it will come back. Only time can tell.”

Okay, so the diagnosis was both a good and bad news. I might or might not use my ears again, depending on how my body would heal. Instead of making me feel better, it challenged my mental health stability.

My mom moved my stuff back to her house when I got discharged from the hospital. She often asked me ever since the diagnosis of how I was holding up, but I always told her that I was fine. Of course, that’s far from the truth, but Mama didn’t need to know that. She already had a lot on her plate, considering I would have to be under her care for a while. I had to quit my job, too, since call center agents needed aural skills, which I no longer had.

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Gaining Stability

Mama eventually urged me to talk about my worries. I thought I was hiding my insomnia to her, but I wasn’t. She said she would come out of her room to pee sometimes and see me in the garden until the wee hours. It was true, so I ended up confessing that I hadn’t been okay ever since I found out about my hearing loss. And for the first time, I bawled in my mother’s arms.

Thought I did not want Mama to see me this way, she told me that it would upset her if I hid my mental health issues further. She made me promise that I would mention everything that bothered me so that she could help me go through with it.

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We started with being roomies. My mother asked me to sleep in her room, saying that she missed hugging me to sleep. While I knew that she was doing it to check on me, I did it without a peep. At that point, I was willing to do anything to stop making my mother sad.

After that, Mama made sure that we ate every meal together. We also tried jogging on weekdays and hiking on weekends, considering the doctor said that being in nature and getting back in shape might help with my healing process. Furthermore, a friend hooked me up with a writing job, which was a dream of mine.

In no time, I stopped feeling sorry for my hearing loss.

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Bottom Line

Losing my sense of hearing was a massive blow in my life. I did not know how to deal with it; I even considered buying a noose to end my ordeal. I only thought of dark things for at least a couple of months.

Fortunately, I had Mama to thank for helping me feel like myself again. It was a crazy journey, but I got there anyway, even without hearing anything. While I am still hopeful about reversing my hearing loss, it would not bother me if it stays that way.

Deaf Community Desperate For COVID-19 Information

Since the spread of the Coronavirus, all governments all over the world managed to give daily brief information on how fast the spread of the virus has occurred. That includes how best to cope with the situation. However, some individuals across different countries felt a little left out. These are the ones who battle with the communication chain. So without proper knowledge of what is going on around, the lack of information for these individuals can cost them their lives.

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The Sentiments Of The Deaf

The deaf community is 5% of the world’s population. Therefore, there are more than millions of them. But not all of them receive clear information about the COVID-19 pandemic because some appeared to be alienated when it comes to the live updates about the deadly Coronavirus. Sadly, these deaf people’s needs are on the line. That is why some are blaming their governments for not doing anything for them. It may be a bit harsh since this situation is no one’s fault, but no one can blame them for feeling left out.

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The World Of The Silent

Honestly, the lack of information is the most unfortunate thing for safety and exposure from the virus of the people in the deaf community. There are worries and fears that buildup due to uncertainties. The deaf community relies on interpretation, so they feel pressured in knowing things the hard way. For them, they view the hearing people as privileged because they do not struggle with the same challenges that deaf people need to go through. The deaf people can only complain because they either missed information or received it wrong. Without an interpreter, they are not able to understand things that are going around the world. Thus, it becomes quite impossible for them to protect themselves, especially from a deadly disease.

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It is no secret that most governments around the world are reporting a fast growth of the Coronavirus. That is why most officials in the country are trying their best to inform their people on how to best cope with the situation. However, it becomes unfair for deaf people because they seem to get secondary information, which may be distorted. That is the reason why they deem for extra attention. But understandably, not all people look at these deaf individuals as unfortunate. Some are taking their time judging and accusing the deaf community as entitled individuals. That is because they think the deaf community is only asking for special consideration. That they believe these people can find ways to know information without taking too much of people’s concerns. Honestly yes. The deaf community can use social media platforms to know and get a little information. However, there is a chance of coming across fake news. Admittedly, it is a daily struggle of knowing what the right thing to believe in and what is not.

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The Barrier

For most countries in the world, they believe that passing information is vital in keeping their nation safe. But for the deaf community who doesn’t have access to specific information and no interpreter to rely on, it becomes life challenging. So when people think about it, it is not their fault that they somehow unintentionally disobey protocols. It is not that the deaf community wants to deal with risking their lives on getting infected. But it is more about questioning the situation since they get only a little understanding of the things they need to do. If we look at things right now, the deaf community is trying their best to keep up with the rest of the population across the different countries in knowing information the best they can.

Feel free to chat with BetterHelp experts if the global health crisis affects your mental health.

Deaf People In A Pandemic

With the entire crisis that the world is going through, people are aware of the situation. They know and understand the necessary measures needed to fight the virus. That is why everyone values social distancing and disinfection. But apparently, not all individuals are capable of understanding what they need to do. Clearly, the world health organization, along with each country’s government, should recognize the needs of persons with disabilities.

Source: media.defense.gov

 

The Struggle Of The Deaf

Among deaf communities, the accurate distribution of vital information is challenging. That is because the universal signing language of COVID-19 doesn’t exist. Well, no one is to blame for this situation, and somehow the unpreparedness gets excused since the pandemic involves the rattle of a global crisis. However, with the virus’s rampant cases, the deaf community needs to have urgent access to information to increase full awareness.

In some countries, affected people of the deaf community want the world health organization to come up with an international sign language that will represent the coronavirus. That is, of course, to allow them to connect with others without the hassle of trying to deliver only bits of information. Yes, some may argue that the deaf community is now given written information from time to time. However, what people did not see is the unreliability of the COVID-19 sequence written on a piece of paper.

Source: media.defense.gov

 

Apparently, other countries already considered taking their own measures to assist the deaf community on their request. There are already fifteen signs that they use to represent the coronavirus. Some of these signs come from unscientific variants, though. Meaning, it could still create confusion, especially when people are not yet familiar with what others currently call COVID-19.

People may not openly talk about it, but they consider deaf people as burdens of society. Well, I am not in the right position to talk about what is appropriate and what is not. But some people do not entirely care to consider other people’s needs. Indeed, there are imbalances and societal differences. However, the deaf community seeks understanding as to why they need extra attention when it comes to gathering information.

Source: media.defense.gov

 

Understanding The Needs Of Deaf People

Among other communities of individuals with a disability, the requested international sign language will be an excellent help for deaf people. Because if you try to imagine the deaf people’s difficulty in communicating, you will see that it is the only thing they got that could potentially save them from this pandemic. Yes, you may say that some of these persons with disabilities can read lips. Clearly, that is an advantage. But their mouths are covered with masks most of the time. Therefore, it will be difficult for them to communicate with others without sign language. These deaf people will probably have to make more noise so that others could recognize them.

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Authorities also need to come up with a plan to understand the needs of deaf people. Each country’s government should not treat them as second-class people just because they have a disability. Being deaf will not make them any less of a citizen out there. They are also vulnerable to the virus, so there is no point in setting aside their needs. Please do not disregard them as less priority and allow the system to come up with a better solution to make amends.

The coronavirus affected individuals all around the world. Therefore, there must be no exemptions as to who are the ones who need access priority for health and social care services. We need to address others’ needs as well, so we can save more lives.

The Relevance Of Knowing About The Deaf Culture

 

The Deaf community in the United States utilizes a language that’s different from the rest of the Deaf communities in the world – the American Sign Language (ASL). It is what connects its members and also functions as a membership card into the linguistics of the American society that not everyone benefits from.

Losing The Stigma

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Helping break the stigma doesn’t have to be verbal. One can do his part by distinguishing the Deaf culture through capitalizing the word ‘Deaf’ and backing that up by trying to change mainstream America’s outlook about it. The Deaf community and culture don’t want to use ‘disabled’ when describing themselves because it would only give the impression that they are ‘less than’ those who aren’t deaf. This could be true, but then this is also true for those hearing individuals who don’t do anything worthy for themselves and their community as well. Getting rid of the label gets rid of the stigma that is attached to it.

“If you’re a hearing person, you no doubt see deafness as a disability that needs to be corrected,” writes David Ludden Ph.D.

Additionally, advocates often speak about the term ‘Deaf gain.” This is described as a communication advantage provided to those who need other means to communicate besides verbal language. The concept is that deaf persons connect more meaningfully and with more heart because they are hearing-impaired.

“We have thus coined the term “Deaf Gain” in opposition to “hearing loss” in order to encompass the myraid ways in which both deaf people and society at large have benefited from the existence of deaf people and sign language throughout recorded human history,” writes Dirksen Bauman, Ph.D. and Joseph J. Murray, Ph.D.

Debate On Cochlear Implant Surgery

There are several members of the Deaf community that do not agree with the idea of cochlear implants, particularly for newborns who have hearing loss. They believe that each individual has the right to choose for himself whether he wants to stay deaf, thereby giving the parents the obligation (as it is indeed) to teach their child ASL as their first language. Activists also think that learning ASL and other cognitive skills is a right that must be protected and that opting for cochlear implant surgery drives families away from that right and losing heart to embrace the deaf culture fully.

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Controversies

There are nine out of ten Deaf babies that are born to hearing parents, and most of these parents opt for their baby to undergo cochlear implant surgery just as they are medically able to. This helps them learn how to speak.

However, the Deaf culture thinks that the hearing population is just so focused on the spoken word when the fact is that ASL is a comprehensive language even though they are not able to produce words with their voices.

“Recent research has shown the many advantages of allowing Deaf children to know and use both a sign language and an oral language. It is the optimal combination that will allow these children to meet their many needs, that is, communicate early with their parents (first in sign and then, with time, also in the oral language), develop their cognitive abilities, acquire knowledge of the world, communicate fully with the surrounding world, and acculturate into their two worlds,” writes Francois Grosjean Ph.D.

Ways To Communicate

Fortunately, ASL is not the only method where we can communicate with a Deaf person. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when trying to communicate with the Deaf.

  • Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts at communication are going to be difficult and uncomfortable. This will get easier as you progress.
  • You can write if the barrier is still too strong. The Deaf person would be happy for your efforts. You can combine your communication methods, hand gestures, and writing to make the process easier and more effective.
  • Take your time and be sincere in your efforts to communicate with the Deaf person. Slow down when the Deaf person is confused and feeling insecure about the whole process, especially if he’s not taking the lesson in right away. Let him feel that it’s fine and that you can always repeat the process.
  • Do not talk to the Deaf person when you’re not looking at him. Eye contact is a vital tool for effective communication with the Deaf, as they listen and understand with their eyes. Show them that you respect them by looking into their eyes.
  • Use the start and end of your conversation as a chance to visually and physically connect with the Deaf person, particularly if he has had an interpreter throughout the conversation. Smile at him, firmly shake his hand, and make eye contact.
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Challenges That Are Still Seen In The Deaf Community

The lives of the deaf and hard of hearing have tremendously changed in the past decades. Modern technologies have emerged, and new policies have included solutions to further decrease the stress and difficulties of deaf persons around the world. However, there are still some obstacles that have remained.

Internet And Other Devices

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The birth of the Internet, tablets, and smartphones has transformed the way people with hearing loss communicate. Speaking and hearing are not always a requirement anymore, particularly in daily activities like ordering food or complaining of a bill. Skype. Face Time, Zoom, and other videoconferencing applications have made it easier for them to understand and learn sign language through remote interpreters and teachers. Still, some challenges continue to persist, such as the need for interpreters for deaf people who don’t have access to the Internet.

Education And Employment

Unlike in the past decades, the deaf community is no longer limited to working in factories and other companies offering hard labor. Unfortunately, although the numbers have largely changed for the better, there are still a lot of deaf persons who are unemployed for discriminatory reasons. In fact, since 2015 up to now, there have been more than 30% of deaf people who remain part-time working jobs. According to Robin E. Perkins-Dock Ph.D and co-authors, “Communication difficulties have been a significant contributor to poor employment rates, and continue to be a primary barrier to job maintenance and advancement for the employee who is deaf.”

Similarly, in the academic aspect, usual schools and colleges seldom provide a system that helps deaf and hard of hearing students survive and thrive. There are also still a low number of institutions that cater only to the deaf community. Recently, there is an estimated 30% of hearing adults that have acquired a bachelor’s degree, while there is only roughly 15% of deaf people do.

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This continuing ordeal in the field of education and employment has caused a rise in anxiety, depression, and stress in the deaf community, as evidence-based data has been released that unemployment from this group has been associated with a range of mental health problems, substance abuse, and some chronic illnesses.

Sign Language Issues

It is unknown how many individuals in America use American Sign Language or ASL, but estimates go from 100,000 to a million. Interpreters aid ASL users in interacting with hearing individuals, and it has been a requirement for public schools to offer ASL interpreters to those who need them. Unfortunately, ASL users, like the deaf and the hard of hearing, do not have control over the interpreter that is provided to him, and this issue can affect them and their capacity to communicate or decipher vital information. Alys Young further puts emphasis on it by saying that, “Interpreters are imbued with powers of representation and portrayal of the person.”

Social Seclusion

Reports say that there are nine out of ten deaf children that are born to parents who can normally heart, but only a third or less have family members who sign up to learn sign language. Some of these family members simply depend on their deaf loved ones to make most of the effort in lip-reading, but in fact, this is significantly difficult to do. This also frequently causes misunderstanding and confusion. In rural areas, on the other hand, deaf children might be the only ones in their school or their neighborhood, making it severely devastating and difficult to establish relationships. “Reduced participation of deaf and hearing impaired individuals in social life leads to a reduction in social adjustment and quality of life,” Guita Movallali, Ph.D. and co-authors explained.

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Conclusion

Although it cannot be denied that much has transformed positively for the deaf community through the years, it is still sad to know that stigma, discrimination, and negligence still exist. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals still have much to face – but so do all people who are alive and living today. Thus, the deaf community must not lose hope. And if they, together with the hearing community, work hand in hand in making the world a better place, it will be for all of us.

Interesting Things You Should Know About The Sex Lives Of Deaf People

Sex is a natural part of the human experience. Without sex, there would be no human life on earth in the first place. Yet, some people have this misconception about disabled people, such as the deaf, wherein they don’t enjoy sex, probably because their bodies are not as physically capable as others.

“This capacity to experience the daimonic quality of sex or eros is an essential and centering part of being human. It reminds us that we are, first and foremost, as Freud pointed out, passionate creatures, motivated and driven by primitive, irrational forces operating just below the surface of civilization and rationality far more powerful than our puny little egos,”writes Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. Continue reading “Interesting Things You Should Know About The Sex Lives Of Deaf People”

Deaf Teens And Their Mental Health

 

For most teenagers, being lonely and frustrated is a common thing. They often feel overwhelmed, and their behaviors are also usually affected by these feelings. Having good mental health is undeniably vital throughout all stages in our lives, but it is in finding ways on how to manage our mental health that we must learn to practice. It’s as important as taking care of our physical health, only a little harder because we don’t see it. It’s often a challenge from within us, and it can be something that we are not in control of.

Now, imagine if you’re a teen that has a hearing loss. These challenges would probably be a little (or quite) more challenging compared to your friends.’ Perhaps you’d feel like you don’t belong or that there are aspects in life that your friends don’t struggle with, but you do. Deaf adults ever receive mental health care,” say Guita Movallali, Ph.D. and collaborators. “Ones of the problems forced for deafness is depression. Depression is a serious mental illness. Categorized depression as the most disabling clinical diagnoses in the world, it has been described as the “common cold” among the mental health problems.”

But don’t despair. These thoughts and feelings are normal and common among the deaf and hard of hearing. There are choices out there, and you know where to look for these choices.

Dealing With Your Mental Health

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Teenagers handle many academic and social responsibilities – being deaf can make it even more challenging. If at times you feel that you don’t belong, every interaction with someone can be harder and more stressful. You may even be oblivious about your mental health and that it’s not in good shape right now, maybe because you’re too busy taking care of other challenges as well. But you should already have your support people behind you – your family, friends, teachers, and audiologists – who are wholeheartedly committed to helping you live the most normal life possible.

Here is a list of questions to ask about your mental health right now.

Are you having trouble:

  • Finding a support network that you can depend on when you feel like you had the worst day?
  • Socializing appropriately with classmates and friends at school?
  • Opening up about the difficulties you are facing and instead keep mum about them?
  • Accepting and acknowledging that you do need help?

If you answered yes to these questions, then bravo! You are doing quite well, considering your disability. It would be lovely to hear about your strategies on how to successfully be in great mental shape. “The importance of reliable and up-to-date support for parents’ decisions is critical to the overall well-being of their child,” Poorna Kushalnagar, PhD and co-authors wrote.

If you aren’t sure of your answers or you answered no to most of them, then perhaps connecting with people who are deaf can assist you in finally fulfilling that physical and mental balance in your life. Hook up with programs and workshops that can guide you in how to manage your feelings better. Expand your reach so you’ll learn to deal with different kinds of people.

Keep in mind that as a deaf teen, you are not alone. There are more than 5,000 more deaf people across the United States, and it would be awesome to be able to establish new and old connections through email, chat, and voice.

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Mental Health Help

One great way to find a support network during your teenage years is by reaching out to fellow deaf teens and adults alike. Some organizations make this move easier for you and they connect you to other deaf persons who have the same or different experiences with whom you can learn from.

You can also reach out to mental health professionals from BetterHelp, which is one of the most effective methods of achieving good mental health – deaf or not. The professional can help you sort your feelings and guide you into healing and recovery. According to Daniel Holzinger and collaborators, “Enhanced communication with deaf patients results in improved patient compliance with medical recommendation.”

Do not be dismayed. You, too, can dream big and accomplish amazing things. Getting to the finish line might be rough and patchy, but keeping your mental health in check will help you achieve success.