MDA Guest Ambassador Blog: Focusing in Mental Health

5 Second Summary

MDA Ambassadors play an essential role in furthering MDA’s mission while representing and empowering the neuromuscular disease community. Quest Ambassador Guest Blog series provides a platform to share their personal stories, perspectives, and experience.

Branden Leimbach is 26 years old. He is a born and raised Nebraskan. Branden was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Myopathy at the young age of 6. He has a degree in Health Information Management Systems and is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health. Branden enjoys watching sports and collecting sports memorabilia.

Branden Leimbach

Branden Leimbach

Being diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease at the age of 6, I knew that my disease would challenge me physically. But it wasn’t until I my senior year of high school that I realized my diagnosis would also challenge me mentally as well. It hit me that I was about to graduate, and I didn’t know what my future held for me. I didn’t quite have a plan. This was more because I was unsure what my disease would allow me to do. Because of this, anxiety set in.

The effects that a chronic neuromuscular disease can have on mental health is different compared to physical health, but they are equally important. Yet, as a society we don’t always take mental health as seriously as we should. And sometimes those responsible for helping individuals affected by mental health issues, don’t recognize it as important as physical health. For example, insurance companies make it hard to receive mental health care. For me, I was lucky enough to have support for my mental health journey. I was supported by my family, friends, and even clinicians.

While I went to therapy, I learned how to cope with my anxiety. One way I learned to accomplish this goal is to develop and maintain a positive mindset. Tell yourself that everything is going to be fine or create images in your head that will help make the negative, intrusive thoughts go away. Close your eyes and take yourself to the beach. Imagine the feeling of the white powdery sand between your toes, hear the gentle ocean waves crashing against the shore, and feel the warm sun beat down on your skin. This has helped me through some tough medical and life stressors.

A positive mindset can create a brighter outlook on life for you. It can have a wonderful impact on your life. I know first-hand that it reduces the stress of daily life, improves overall well-being, and provides better resilience. It is hard to adopt all at once, but once you repeat it over and over again, it becomes natural. I still struggle with staying positive because hard days just happen. When those days happen, I like to focus on other things to keep my mind occupied. I like to go outside when its warm, listen to music, or read about current sports news.

Living with a neuromuscular disease, my mental health has challenged me just as much as my physical health. It is important to take care of your mental health, just like you would take care of your physical health. Having a positive mindset is an important part of coping with challenges and finding joy in life.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

  • For more information about the signs and symptoms of Mitochondrial Myopathy, as well an overview of diagnosis and treatment concerns, an in-depth review can be found here.
  • To learn more about MDA’s Mental Health Hub, visit here.
  • MDA’s Resource Center provides support, guidance, and resources for patients and families. Contact the MDA Resource Center at 1-833-ASK-MDA1 or
  • Stay up-to-date on Quest content! Subscribe to Quest Magazine and Newsletter.

Disclaimer: No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.