What came first, the chicken or the egg? Learning disabilities and mental health
By LYDIA VERSLUIS
Rebecca Tamcsu is a second year student in Digital Photography at Niagara College and a volunteer at a Welland animal shelter. She has a family and a job. She also has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), anxiety and depression.
“My anxiety makes it hard for me to feel comfortable when presenting, talking, or getting called on in class,” says Tamscu. “I always worry that I’m going to say the wrong things, sound stupid, fail, and my classmates would judge me for my answers or work.”
Tamscu’s ADHD was diagnosed early. “I was pretty young, probably senior kindergarten or grade one,” Tamcsu says.
Like many who suffer from ADHD, Tamscu finds it difficult to focus. She also has trouble sitting still for long periods of time.
“School and work can get very tough for me. I can’t sit still for an entire class or shift,” she says. “And if I’m in the middle of a depressive episode, it’s hard for me to get out of it and my work and performance suffers because of it.”
Not much is known about the link between learning disabilities and mental health. But evidence suggests there is a link. Children with learning disabilities are often bullied or excluded by their peers. Feelings of isolation can lead to depression and anxiety.
For nine years, Tamscu found support in a tuxedo cat named Socks. “I always felt better when she walked into my room and stayed with me until I was a little better,” she says. Socks eventually died from lung cancer.
Since moving to Welland, Tamscu took the advice of her doctor and adopted Piper, a black kitten who will be turning one on Nov. 14. Piper is currently going through certification to become a therapy animal.
Tamscu credits Piper for giving her purpose and for being an outlet for her emotions. “Along with her, my support team also includes my boyfriend who is always a very big support and I will never be able to repay him for all that he’s done for me.