Sole Focus Project

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Holden Packer

Holden Packer

Youth Ambassador

OCD, ADHD, PTSD, MDD… the list goes on. These are all labels we give people. They can be hurtful, they can be inaccurate, they can be damaging. They can isolate people, alienating them from others. But in the right context, when given by a trained professional, they can be the map to help someone find their way through challenges they face everyday.

My name is Holden Packer, and I am fortunate to have been raised in a house where we openly talk about our struggles. My mom battled a severe eating disorder (and my dad struggles with stuff, too). With therapy and with my dad’s help, my mom learned that her feelings were valid, and not to bottle them up. When they saw me struggling, they knew it wasn’t a phase I’d grow out of and got me some help. Because I was young, it was easier for me to learn new coping skills, and they will continue to help me as I get older.

My parents said when they were young, people would be judged if they had labels like OCD and ADHD. I can’t imagine how awful that would be. I am proud that I was given a diagnosis because it helps me understand more about how my brain works. It helps me see why I am so obsessed with certain things (like cars) and why I sometimes need to make lists to help me stay on track. There are many tools available that have helped other people like me. I can’t change how I was made but I can do whatever it takes to be the best version of me.

One of my happiest places is on the soccer pitch with my team. Our coaches this year are so positive and want us to focus on our teamwork, both on and off the field. We decided to host a Glow Ride to give back to the community and were excited that CMHA agreed to host it with us. This team has been so good for my own mental health, making me feel I can be myself, no matter what. We really enjoyed that event to kick off our season.

I want my friends to know that they are safe to open up to me, and if not to me, then to someone. CMHA is an organization that helps many in our community do just that. My mom and dad have been part of Ride Don’t Hide for several years, and once I was old enough, I got to join, too! The only thing missing every year, in my opinion, was more kids. So that was our hope, that with the Glow Ride, we could change that. It was very rewarding to see families with their bikes blinged out for mental health. And to see people out here today. I am proud to live in a community where I don’t have to hide my real self.