Helping Manage Stress Associated with Illness and Disability
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Martel Catalano, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Beyond My Battle, an organization dedicated to helping individuals and their loved ones manage the emotional stress of illness and disability.
"This is a fascinating young lady. She's Martel Catalano, co-founder and executive director of an organization called "Beyond my Battle." How you doing? Great. I'm so happy to be here. Let me disclose that I knew you when you're a little kid. Yeah. You, and your brother, and your family. Mmhmm. Great family. But I'm fascinated that you are doing what you're doing right now. "Beyond my Battle" is? So first and foremost, we're a nonprofit organization. And we are helping individuals, and their loved ones, manage the emotional stress that comes with any kind of illness or disability. And you have faced, and continue to face a challenge in that regard. Talk about it. Right, so I have a incurable disease myself called retinitis pigmentosa. It's an inherited eye condition that affects the retina, and essentially kills the rods in your eyes over the course of your life. Leaving you with... when I was diagnosed at 13, I realized I had a huge issue with night vision. I couldn't see in the dark like my friends could. And then I grew to learn that it would slowly start to take my vision from the outside in. So loss of peripheral vision as well. Leaving you with tunnel vision, probably legal blindness at some point down the road. From that to why you created this organization? Yeah, so... Cause you could... just worry about yourself, felt bad about yourself... Which I did for a long time. Who could blame you? Yeah definitely. Well it started out with me feeling bad about myself for a long time definitely. I really dissociated from having this disease. Really didn't think about it for at least a decade. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and was medicated for those things. Which really was just addressing these symptoms of the problem. That I'd needed to go into the root of the problem, and really learn why I was depressed, learn why I was so anxious. Which myself, and I think my family would attest to, we just really weren't doing at home. From there, I personally started studying yoga, mindfulness, started meditating, started thinking of ways that I could just accept what was going on in my life. I knew that I couldn't change having R.P., but I could change the way I was responding to having it. It was never gonna go away. It was probably gonna only get worse, and I needed to change myself from the inside. Then I met a friend, who is now a dear friend of mine, and the co-founder of "Beyond my Battle." My friend now, who has cystic fibrosis, and I don't know what you know about C.F., but..."