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:

On Demand, Without Apology

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I listened to an amazing podcast last week from the women of Hysteria, who drop a pod every week with their perspectives on what’s going on in the news and the world. They are part of the Crooked Media family. I know, I post so much of Crooked Media’s media that I seem to be a stan, and to be honest, I am. I listen to most of their stuff, don’t agree with absolutely everything, but I always learn something.

This episode of Hysteria was called Abortion On Demand, No Apologies, and it is where I got the title for this post from. Erin Ryan and Alyssa Mastromanoco begun wuth a conversion about last week’s news and outrage and then Erin is joined by Grace Parra, Megan Gailey, and Dana Schwartz who all share very personal, and very poignant stories of their experiences with abortion and reproductive health. It is something that affects all of us every day. It’s very emotional for the podcasters as well as for me the listener. I was transported alongside them and I was touched deeply by their words.

I’m pro-choice, but that is all I will offer by way of my own opinions. The women of Hysteria really lay their experiences on the line. I’ll leave it to them to share their stories. 

One thing that was said however that I do want to share, and it stems from the Me, too movement, Times Up, Male politicians who know nothing of women’s bodies regulating them and passing laws that are not only Draconian, but also physically impossible to enforce (reimplanting an ectopic pregnancy in the uterus is one example). Whenever a man, and it is almost always a man, decides that an embryo is more valueable than a real live women, women all across this country need to rise up, protest, and in doing so are forced into a retraumatization of their original hell, whether that is rape, incest, abortion, or any other trauma faced. They are expected to bare their souls, and then they are often ridiculed and the men are often astounded that what happened to them is real, and they are sorry, but not sorry enough to let women control their own bodies.

I really don’t know which is worse – the original trauma or the reliving each and every time a politician decides that women need their help in making medical decisions. They relive the trauma, and there is no apology for them in their living nightmare.

Please hear these women.

On Demand, Without Apology Link to Podcast, originally airing May 23, 2019..

Now What? The Testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

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​I planned my entire Thursday around Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. When I went out in the morning to grab something to eat, I listened to Senator Chuck Grassley’s opening remarks on the radio, and I was home in time for Senator Diane Feinstein’s. From that point on, I watched, without interruption.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t planned on watching Judge Kavanaugh’s, but I thought in the interest of fairness (and a cleared afternoon schedule), I decided that I would watch it live rather than wait for that evening’s analysis. Continue reading

You Clean Up Good – 8 Hygiene Tricks for People with Body Issues

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This was written by a friend of mine, and he’s given me permission to share it with you.

For whatever reason that you find it hard to clean up (one of my sporadic issues (I do have more than one) is that I have a water phobia, and the act of getting in the shower is just too much sometimes, and to be honest, that is minor compared to others’ reactions), these eight tricks and tips might be helpful.

PTSD, traumatic memories, abuse, scars, eating disorders, phobias, delusions, anxiety, body image issues, gender or other dysmorphia…there are plenty of reasons that for some people, naked is HARD.  And forced to confront your naked body directly enough to clean it is HARDER.  But life doesn’t have a lot of room for people who struggle with basic hygiene, and even if you don’t deal with other people, there is a point where if you don’t clean yourself, you become at risk for skin infections and other issues, so I thought I’d offer a few tips, some from personal experience, some from my therapist because this is a thing I’ve struggled with myself:

  1. Love your products.For me, it’s LUSH stuff.  I love the way that shit smells, the way it feels, the textures, the colors, everything.  Even the company policies and marketing.  I want to smell like that and put it all over me.  If you’re already struggling, you don’t need to be gagging on the smell or shuddering from the texture of dollar store body wash.  If there’s any way you can afford it or find free samples or anything, use whatever products you love most.
  2. Distance yourself.If touching your body bothers you, use a loofa, a puff, or a brush instead of your bare hand or a thin cloth or mitt.
  3. Turn the lights off and cover the mirrors.It may seem silly, but sometimes just not seeing can help.  If you can’t do it in the dark or if total dark freaks you out, try a candle (outside the shower) or nightlight. Mirrors should be self explanatory, especially because bathroom light is often very unflattering.
  4. Don’t tempt yourself.If you have a history of or urges towards self harm, don’t have razors, scrubs, or harsh sponges/scrubbers in the shower or in easy reach after.
  5. Distract yourself.Get a waterproof case for your phone.  Sing in the shower.  Draw on the wall with soap crayons.  Draw on YOU with soap crayons.  Have an audiobook.  Use the time to drill yourself on trivia, prep for a test, or work on that thing you’re writing.  Try to remember the alphabet backwards in another language.
  6. Ink up.If you can and are so inclined, consider getting one or more tattoos.  They can give you a real sense of positive ownership of your body, and you can focus on the art and its meaning when you see yourself naked rather than paying attention to the canvas.
  7. Set a timer.  Things are often a billion times more endurable if you know when they’ll end, having to rush can sometimes help keep you from dwelling on emotions, and it helps prevent zoning out and getting the shitty surprise when the hot water runs out.
  8. Make it necessary.  Paint on yourself or sharpie on yourself.  Pour on something with a gross texture like lube or vegetable oil.  Put paint in your hair.  The focus on getting ____ off can help, and it makes it harder to keep finding reasons to not.

Sometimes, though it’s not going to happen.  So consider a dry shampoo or dry body wash, a quick change of clothes, some extra deodorant, a spritz of body spray, some powder, and try again tomorrow.  You’re not a failure because today didn’t happen, and succeeding tomorrow is not lessened by today.

And if you do it, reward yourself.  You deserve it.  You did the thing and it was a hard thing, and that’s awesome.

 

Source: Andrew Blake (http://andythanfiction.tumblr.com/post/92761622197/you-clean-up-good-8-hygiene-tricks-for-people-with)