‘Get out of your comfort zone’


By Eamon Baird

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TROY — Local resident Christina Ryan Claypool is featured in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” anthology series for the sixth time. She discussed her story and why mental health awareness is so important today.

“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone,” by Amy Newmark, is a collection of 101 stories designed to help people overcome fear and broaden their world. Claypool’s “The Sacrifice of the Class Ring” is a first-person account of her struggle to survive and find the kindness of strangers in the most unexpected places.

September is mental health awareness month, and Claypool discussed the importance of understanding mental health and dealing with one’s comfort zone.

“If you have a mental health challenge, I think it’s more difficult to get out of your comfort zone because anxiety and fear and it all kind of couples together. When you have a mental health challenge, depression can add to that and encompasses low self-esteem,” Claypool said.

In her story, Claypool talked about the difficult time she was going through trying to survive as a young, expectant mother:

“When I was seven months pregnant, my son’s father and I separated at the advice of a counselor. When my young husband went out west for employment in Nevada, our apartment rent was due. I was unemployed with a mere $10 to my name.”

Claypool decided she needed to sell her high school class ring that she had worked so hard for to help pay her bills. There, a young woman who worked behind the counter offered her words of comfort:

“Sometimes, I’m so tired,” the clerk admitted. “I look at the stack of medical bills piling up on the counter. Then I look into my little girl’s face and say to myself, ‘It’s all worth it.’”

“She was saying to me, this is going to be really difficult, this is going to be really challenging, this is going to be really hard, but you’re going to love it; you’re going to be great; you’re going to be fine, you’re going to be okay,” Claypool said.

Claypool dealt with drug addiction in addition to depression and anxiety in her own life and was hospitalized for multiple suicide attempts. She said through her relationship with God, she overcame her addictions and told her life story to help others who might feel the same way.

Today, Claypool is an author and public speaker who lives with her husband, Larry, whom she met in 2000. Claypool still says her most important job is being a mother to her son Zach.

Claypool, who also wrote the fictional novel “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife,” appreciates that her stories are featured in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” anthology again.

“I’m just grateful to have a beautiful one-day-at-a-time life. It’s not perfect, but one day at a time. And that’s what my whole goal is writing for chicken soup. I’m so grateful they let me do some of my stories,” Claypool said.

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