At least once a week, I’ve sat myself down and wanted to write and publish here, and more than once a week, I’ve failed. I checked online to see my last publication, and it was way back in July.
Where has August gone?
I stopped subscribing to more is better, so while I do track my writing and word counts, it’s for my own accountability, but I still do not like when plans go by the wayside.
Although last week was a bit of a dip for things.
My priest died nine months ago. My oldest moved after some personal stuff that we’ll call a setback. My middle son is moving out when he starts college. My daughter hates me. Fall memoir workshop was cancelled. And my therapist is retiring.
Okay, let’s be fair: My daughter doesn’t hate me. It’s really just the normal teenage daughter – mother tension, and I did tell her that I’d be writing this, so we’re good. But everything else? I guess I’d say I’m coping.
All our money went to car repairs, house repairs, gas, and groceries. At some point, we know that our kids are not going to want to continue going on vacation with us, but until that day comes, I’m here for it. We’re just doing an overnight in the Finger Lakes and making memories.
I’ve got a master list that I’m working through, and one (or twelve) of those items is publishing a few pieces before we go away, instagramming for the two days that we are away, preparing for the class that I’m teaching in the fall, and reorganizing myself. Not my stuff. Not my writing. Not my clutter, but myself. Where do I want to be in six weeks?
I will let you know sometime in the next week or so, but I am here to also remind you that there is no right way, there is only the way you choose to move forward.
Beginning last Saturday, this easier to remember three-digit number is how to reach the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The other number still works, and this is not a new line. 988 will connect you to the existing suicide prevention lifeline. As with 1-800-273-8255, this is not a 9-1-1 call, and will not connect you to emergency services. This is crisis counseling with trained counselors. It may be used for phone calls, texts, and chat.
The Lifeline and 988 (information link)
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (information link)
But it’s Thursday?
Yes, it’s Thursday, but it’s also Mental Health Monday.
With the end of May came the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, but our awareness of our mental health and struggles are ongoing. Along with that, our mental health checkups can happen on any day of the week and this is a good time to remind ourselves of that.
I’ve been absent a bit more than I’d like. Some of that is getting ready for graduation and planning my continuing education class for the fall as well as other commitments, but it is also coming back from my case of Covid. My turn in the barrel with covid was very mild by all metrics and standards, but it still knocked me out for a week. Now, I am contending with an almost ear infection – I say almost because it’s mainly fluid in my ear but it’s not getting better. I may need an antibiotic and I’m not thrilled with the idea, although I am happy for medicine that makes it all better.
So please, check up on your mental health. Randomly if that works for you, or schedule it on your calendar. Decide what ways you will check up on yourself and then follow through. If something seems off, call your doctor or therapist. Even though I’m miles better than when I was diagnosed, I still see my therapist once a month. It centers me, and gives me some things to concentrate on and work towards. It makes me think. What works for you?
Mental Health Madness?
I hear a lot about March Madness, but for those of us with schoolchildren and working/living on a school calendar, it’s definitely May Madness.
Well, it’s not that bad, but I am moving into a very, a ridiculously, very busy section of spring. The next four weeks or so are going to try my patience and my limits and my family’s. Not to mention all of the people around me.
The good news is that I am very aware of this.
Just looking at my calendar is giving me hives, not to mention that I have just discovered that I apparently have some newfound allergies and I am miserable. It’s like a cold, only constant, and there is a croaky frog in my throat. I have been very fortunate not to have had allergies thus far for my entire life, but I guess I dodged that long enough because if this is a cold, it’s nothing like I’ve ever had. Allergies – yuck. insert emoji of yucky face
I belong to a non-profit that is closing its doors, and in these last, waning, sunset, state-legal requirement encroaching days, I have been asked to take over as vice president. Can I say no? No. We’re also in the midst of cleaning out decades worth of papers from the borrowed offices. insert emoji of praying hands
I interviewed last week for a job. It went well. Although they are still looking, I am still in contention. If I were to be honest, after twenty-plus years of being my own boss (apart from my kids), I’m worried both about getting the job and not getting the job. I will wait and see what the future has in store for me. At this point, it’s at the bottom of my anxiety, so that’s a good thing. It’s kind of nice not to be excessively worried about the outcome.
The ending of the school year includes two kids who need to learn how to drive, get summer jobs, take on more chores (what fun!), and one is graduating from high school. How did that happen? I’m not ready. Fortunately, he seems to be, but we’re having a house-guest (my brother) plus coming up with meals for that entire week (and the entire time between now and then), the actual graduation (and parking and seating and what not). There is the school district transportation breakfast that I volunteered for, Ascension Mass, a second Synod listening session (this one for LGBTQ+ issues), finishing up my presentation for my Cursillo team, continuing my spiritual journal (which is coming along nicely), one more writing class, and at least a dozen more things that haven’t come up yet, but they will, I just know it!
As you can see, this is one of my ways of coping:
Write it all down.
Yes, it is on my calendar, so I won’t (shouldn’t) forget any of my appointments, and I have a master checklist, but just spewing it here and getting it out of my system is one step in several of coping with the onslaught of the coming anxiety. I highly recommend it.
My second piece of advice and one of the most important items in my toolbox is water. Drink lots of water. I’m drinking water right now. Stay hydrated. This benefits you two-fold: 1. water is good for you, and 2. when you’re hydrated you are less likely to get a headache. Avoiding headaches will always help with everything else.
Third, stock up on pasta, sauce, and cans of soup. Macaroni and cheese in the blue box is also highly recommended. These are all easy and fast to make, good to eat, and simple to clean up. Even if you don’t want to eat, you need to eat, so for several days a week, make it simple. You can always dress up pasta with frozen meatballs and bread with butter (with or without garlic).
Fourth, find one or two things to skip this week. I can’t tell you what – they would be personal to you, but I’m sure there is something that won’t be a problem missing out on. You decide. Oh, and it can’t be sleep. No missing out on sleep. Rest is just as important as water. Naps are great even if you’re older than three!
Fifth, and last, start your week on a positive note. For me, I’m going to Sunday Mass. Church feeds my soul. I miss it when I’m not there, and I enjoy it when I am. Besides the sacraments, it is truly that simple. Sunday is also the May Crowning for Mary. I may also stay after that and pray the rosary. I know this isn’t for everyone. If you’re not a church person, don’t start your week there – it will only make you miserable. What do you like though? Cup of coffee on the porch? Get out early before the oppressive heat, but you can get out. Tea? A good book? Just quietly sitting while a breeze floats by? Tell me your go-to.
As we keep reminding, May is mental health awareness month, and when May ends in a week or so, we will still need to remain aware of our mental health and how to keep coping during the rest of the year. I’d be happy to hear how you cope and we can share our advice, hints, and tips with each other in the comments.
Wait! Did I forget the haircuts?! Oh well, I guess I’ll add it to the list!
Have a lovely week!
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:
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.
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: