Asthma - Karah Hamel

I was diagnosed with severe chronic asthma when I was 2 years old and struggled with it on a daily basis when I was young. I grew up never knowing if I was going to come home from school that day or if I would have to be taken to the hospital after recess. I wasn't able to make very many friends when I was little because I wasn't able to run or do much that normal kids could and I was always in and out of the hospital and would miss lots of school, so I got very behind in my school work as well. There were seasons where I would go months without having to be hospitalized, and think that I had "grown out of it" like most kids do, but I would always have another asthma attack and end up in the hospital again for weeks at a time. This continued up until my senior year of high school, and even then I was never allowed to go to friends houses for too long because their pets could cause another asthma attack. At that point, I started a clinical trial of injections which have done wonders for my condition and I have been fortunate enough to have not had an another serious attack in over 8 months.
In close connection with my asthma, I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was 10 and depression when I was 12. What I'd really love for people to know about asthma is that it can be really detrimental to your mental health as well as your physical health. Many times, and I think this is true for most invisible illnesses and others, we tend to focus so much on the physical symptoms (which are obviously very important) but overlook how these experiences can be traumatic and have long term effects on our mental health as well. Not being able to breathe and struggling for air is a terrifying feeling, and I still struggle with a lot of fear and anxiety to this day as a result. 
All of these experiences and struggles have taught me more than I can put into words and still continue to do so. One important thing that I have learned that I can't do it all on my own sometimes and that's okay. My faith is the most important thing in my life, and through relying on God's strength rather than my own to persevere in the midst of these struggles, I find my hope. I've also learned that there is absolutely NO shame at all in asking for help if you are struggling with your mental health. We are given amazing resources such as counselors that are there to help, and anything that might be standing in our way from utilizing them (such as fear of judgement from others, money or time), is simply not as important to prioritize as our mental health is. I hope that because I have struggled with invisible illness, I will be able to empathize with others who are struggling with similar problems and have opportunities to share the same hope that I have now with them.
To anyone who struggles with or is newly diagnosed with an invisible illness: YOU ARE NOT WEAK. I made the mistake of spending most of my life resenting the fact that I couldn't do as much physically as "normal people". In reality, every time you have to take a step back and care for yourself it is making you so much stronger than any lacrosse game or school play ever could.