Mental Health Monday

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I was sick all weekend. I can always tell when I’m slightly better because my family, who have been extremely helpful and tolerant of me suddenly have earphones in, my bedroom door remains closed, and I am once again on my own; abandoned. And clearly melodramatic.

That’s not entirely true; I mean I’m definitely being melodramatic, but I also have a good family even if they can be a bit argumentative, but aren’t all families that way?

And I whine when I’m sick. I can’t help it. Fever, chills, whine. I’m a four year old.

I told them today that a little better is not not-sick. I’m still sick, and still need some help. They were happy to go to school and work.

Despite that, I was very busy today! And I really wanted to put a couple of things off, but I couldn’t because this is the only day I’m home all week. When did everything get so busy?!

What did I do today, you ask:

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Mental Health Monday – Let It Go

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Sometimes, you just need to let it go and start again.

Small things, big things, medium things. We all get behind and then we get overwhelmed, and then we start to feel buried under the burden, but what we fail to remember is that each day is a new day.

A new day to wake up, leave the past in yesterday, and start again.

Isn’t that what we tell our kids when they have a bad day? Or a frustrating day?

I’m not suggesting ignoring important things. That will only make it worse. What I am saying is that each day brings us a newness to start again, to do better, to be better, and we should give ourselves that breathing room.

I’ve been going non-stop since about 9 AM this morning, and once this is posted, I’m going to sit down, be quiet, and read a book.

Actually, I’m going to make my checklist, and then I’m going to sit down, be quiet, and read a book. And more importantly, I’m going to stay off Twitter.

We may feel that this is procrastination, but this is not procrastination. This is taking care of ourselves, and while these busy days are very productive and lead me to wanting to do more, I can’t forget that I don’t want to crash and burn; I want to be healthy and taking time out or time off is a strategy to take care of our mental health and stay well.

Even for just fifteen minutes.

Election Connection – Press Freedom Day

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As much as my fury wants me to write about the White House Press Corps and their dereliction of duty over the past five plus years, I will refrain as the importance of freedom of the press is paramount as we look to on this day as remaining a democracy and seeing inside many authoritarian regimes.

Journalists continue to be targeted despite the illegality under humanitarian law and viewed as a war crime. 1519 have been killed in the line of duty since 1993.

The two links that follow are relevant to today’s journalists and their freedom of access. The first is an interactive map of the 2021 Attacks on the Press. The second is a piece of writing about the press and getting the information out of Ukraine during their current war with Russia.

I would also highly recommend keeping up on the press and the journalists at home and abroad through the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Please also visit UNESCO’s site for information on yesterday’s World Press Freedom Day Global Conference.

Attacks on the Press in 2021 (CPJ)

On This World Press Freedom Day, Ukraine is Front of Mind

Mental Health Monday, Delayed

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First, a note about Press Freedom Day, which is today. Election Connection – Press Freedom Day will appear tomorrow. Mental Health Monday seemed to be more essential to post this morning.

Mental Health Awareness Month began on Sunday, a day that for most of us gives us some breathing room from the rest of the week. I am aware, however, of the many people who don’t get Sunday off and work in jobs that are so haphazard that they need second supplemental jobs and barely have time off from work. It’s important to recognize them and acknowledge and assist their mental health struggles.

I had intended to write something for publication yesterday, but after the shocking news of the Supreme Court leaked document, an Alito written draft overturning Roe v. Wade, I couldn’t sit down and write about mental health solutions when my mental health was on the verge of cracking.

All over my social media, I’ve seen women angry, upset, frightened. I won’t be getting pregnant again, and I feel the same way. I described it on Facebook as FURIOUS. I don’t have enough adjectives to describe the feelings and these feelings have been growing exponentially since November 8, 2016. It may sound melodramatic to say but that was a day of mourning in our house. We walked around with shadows across our faces, our eyes unfocused, muddling through the subsequent days; going through the motions. It felt very familiar, much like we acted during 9/11. We had also been mourning the sudden death of my mother in law, so that may have played a role in how deep our depression went.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a several faceted quandary. As I saw described on Twitter, the Republicans are the dog who caught the car. Now what will they run on? They’ve won the one thing they claimed they wanted. For Democrats, will this be demoralizing or will this energize us? Will we continue to be held hostage by apathy and the Manchin/Sinema power plays and/or the Collins/Murkowski concern Olympics complete with pearl-clutching and ‘oh mys’ with or without fainting spells?

And I know that some of you are wondering what this has to do with mental health?

A lot, in fact.

For women, this is a dark day. Some remember the days of back alley abortions. Are we merely chattel in a man’s world? Don’t we have the ability, the intelligence, the know-how to be able to know the best for our own bodies and mental health? The men passing the laws (and voting to overturn our constitutional rights) don’t even understand the biology of when a fetus is viable, when it is a new life, what a heart that holds a heartbeat is, or the difference between ectopic pregnancies, viable pregnancies, and high/low risk pregnancies.

They trust us to raise these children born, often alone and with no resources, but somehow we can’t be trusted to decide that the pregnancy should go forward as if our bodies are merely incubators.

No one suggests sterilizing men, who can create fetuses several by the day where as a woman can only bring one pregnancy to term a year.

I think we should have a general woman’s strike where all women stay home, and women who work at home or are homemakers or stay-at-home moms take the day off. Show the men that without women, things stop. I’d hazard to guess that everything stops.

Where does mental health fit in?

First, take care of yourself. If social media is too much with too many angry, dystopian posts, get off for a bit. Hours, or even days. You don’t have to be a part of that circus while it’s so raw for you.

Second, be aware of the amount of posting and news that will revolve around abortions, reproductive rights, the undermining of women’s rights and equality. Give yourself a trigger warning before you engage with social media and even some family members and friends.

Third, give yourself time to mourn. Spend quiet time. Have a cup of tea, knowing that the cup of tea will not cure this crisis, but it will give you some time to sit, relax, reflect, and simply do nothing for a little while.

Fourth, when you’re ready, plan how to combat this assault on our persons. We are the ones with heartbeats, and they will listen to us. We will make them listen.

Fifth, as part of doing something productive: if you have the money, some good places to donate are:

National Pretzel Day

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Whether hot or cold, soft or hard, tiny twists or sticks, I think my favorite snack is the pretzel. With a dill vegetable dip, mustard (yellow or deli), beer cheese, or melted cheddar, it doesn’t matter – the pretzel is the main attraction.

My go-to brand is Rold Gold, but there is nothing like a soft New York pretzel with mustard. In fact, when we needed to use something quintessentially identifiable for our state for our team photo for GISH, I chose a soft pretzel with mustard while sitting at the Erie Canal.

I want one today!

(c)2022
(c)2022

Final Lenten Labyrinth

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Lent did not seem to rush by or to trickle; it went along just right as Goldilocks would say. For me, I think part of it was keeping the labyrinth journal throughout Lent. It forced me (in a good way) to look at my day, both before it began and then to examine how it went later on and keep track of my activities. I mostly stuck to spiritual activities, but some secular ones seeped in, especially when I spent quality time with my family or if I completed writing assignments. Those things got me up in such a positive way, I couldn’t help but meditate on them and incorporate them into my spiritual journey for Lent. I enjoyed switching the colors between journaling, and I enjoyed recognizing close moments with G-d in the micro-narration as well as in the moment.

With Lent finished, and other responsibilities beginning, I thought I would try my hand at a spiritual journal. I started it on the 19th and didn’t pick it up again until yesterday. So far not an auspicious start, but I don’t intend it to be a daily journal; I’m attempting to keep it pressure free. It occured to me to begin it when I started keeping a log for my Cursillo grouping and Ultreya tripod and close moments. I thought I should keep those and have access to re-reading them and be able to always be advancing in my spiritual life.

Here are the final pictures of my Lenten Labyrinth Journal. It is definitely something that I found rewarding and something I would consider doing again. As you can see below the cut, I needed a second labyrinth to cover everything during Holy Week, concluding with Easter.

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World Book Day…

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Apparently, yesterday was World Book Day. I thought that was last month. Books are a central part of my day, every day. I’m currently reading four – two are religious books, one is a daily through Easter and the second is a weekly for the entire liturgical year.
The other two are:
Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy by Jamie Raskin
Lessons from the Edge: A Memoir by Marie Yovanavitch

My next book up is coming out on May 16 and is written by a woman I know through my writing group: Empty Shoes by the Door: Living After My Son’s Suicide, A Memoir by Judi Merriam.

My Top 5 Books in the last six months are (and yes, I’m well aware that there are more than five books on this list.):

The entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters
Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could by Adam B. Schiff
After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made by Ben Rhodes
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
State of Terror: A Novel by Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times Magazine
Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci
Mankiller: A Chief and Her People by Wilma Mankiller and Michael Wallis

Happy Reading on World Book Day and Every Day!

5 Simple Things You Can Do For This Earth Day

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  1. When you go for your morning coffee, many places will let you bring your own clean reusable cup to use instead of disposable.
  2. Turn out lights and open curtains. This time of year is great for lots of light and longer days.
  3. Turn off your airconditioner and open your windows.
  4. Fill in your weekly menu with salads and sandwiches and let your stove (whether electric or gas) rest.
  5. Turn off your heat; it’s April! (This one might specifically be for me.)