Posted in Covid-19, mental health, Uncategorized

The risk of selfishness

Since my last post, the world has exploded into the biggest clusterfuck many of us have ever seen. Covid-19 had temporarily made hermits of a lot of us and with that came many different voices. Some of us were suddenly thrust into a world where we had no income. Some found that the situation was made worse with children no longer in school. Others were forced to live life as before, yet facing the threat of contagion, adding to stress. The lucky ones hunkered down at home with their families, even enjoying this time away. Less traffic, few obligations, more time with family, time to work from home made the transition so much easier for some. There was an underlying powder keg of worry, fear and desperation just bubbling below the surface when George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minnesota at the end of May.

A culture war that had been brewing in the United States seemed to erupt then and it has gotten so much worse than anyone could have imagined. The divisiveness that permeated our culture, fueled by our leaders, now seeps into almost every aspect of our existence as we still struggle to cope with life during a pandemic. People are dying alone in hospitals, yet the mere act of wearing a face covering to protect others has almost become a symbol of who you are as a political person, not just something to be done out of caution and as a respectful way to protect others. The CDC says masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19, but some of our leaders have chosen to amp up their divisive rhetoric by using those acts of caring to promote “their side” and to denigrate, humiliate and bully those who choose to do the right thing.

The murder of George Floyd, Elijah McClain and Breonna Taylor (and others) have ignited a spark in many which has resulted in a new level of caring and understanding of racism in the United States. These sparks have flamed the fire of protests, which have unfortunately resulted in death and destruction. Those opposed to the movements have chosen to rally their sides in opposition. Standing up for the oppressed has never been wrong and it never will be wrong. Jesus always took the side of the oppressed and welcomed them with open arms. Destruction of property, including statues, while understandably fueled by these fires, is merely symbolic. I don’t agree with the glorification of historically terrible people; however, it is important to remember that the destruction of someone else’s property is a selfish act based on anger and rage.

I’m not writing this to shame anyone. I understand the anger.  Somewhere along the line, we are going to have to start looking at our neighbors as people, not as “them” or “us.” It’s not going to be easy and I imagine I won’t live to see it, as I fear the division will worsen and the free for all that has resulted in the “me first” attitude will never be mended. Think about how you want to be treated. Remember the golden rule and do the right thing.

Posted in mental health, Uncategorized

Mental Health Awareness Month

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month.

What, if anything, does that mean to you? How does it make you feel? I tend to feel cynical and jaded at the prospect of another month, another cause. How does the declaration of a month of awareness actually help raise awareness? If awareness is raised, what’s the next step?

I have lived with several mental health disorders all of my life. Unfortunately, I grew up in an era when people didn’t talk about mental health. I knew that my mother had suffered from panic attacks. I found out that my paternal grandmother had depression, but I only discovered these facts well into adulthood. I still don’t feel comfortable discussing mental health with my parents who are in their late 70’s. I believe that sometimes it takes a serious mental health emergency or “breakdown” to open up those lines of communication.

An essential component of awareness is the ability to be able to talk about subjects that may make us uncomfortable. This is where you have to take cues from others. Never discuss another person’s mental health issues unless you have gotten permission from them and always be loving and kind.

I know that many are struggling these days and I’m not exception. I have days in which I tell myself that I’m strong and capable of handling whatever is thrown my way and then like today, I wallow in self-pity, feeling lonely and sad and depressed. I am able; however, to recognize that downward spiral and try not to let it get out of control.

Do what it takes to keep yourself mentally healthy. Talk to a counselor, friend, or spiritual advisor. Exercise, meditation, good nutrition, and the most important thing (I believe) is to shift your focus. Focus on helping another person or focus on something positive after you have allowed yourself to have those down feelings. If you are feeling suicidal, please get help. 1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Do your part to raise awareness by making yourself a safe place for others to talk about their own mental health without judgment.

Posted in Covid-19, mental health, Uncategorized

Fear

I started this blog to help people like me. I hope that at least one of my blogs has given you comfort, food for thought or inspiration to either continue your journey of self-love or begin anew.

Being motivated by someone else’s inspiration is a great thing; however, it is dependent on the other person providing that inspiration. I follow a lovely man on Instagram who has been through many challenges and is currently facing a health crisis. Through it all, he posts inspirational, uplifting quotes and regularly shows that life and what is going on around him at any given time will not change his journey. There was a period of time when he didn’t post and I worried that perhaps he had fallen into a depression and as I found out later, that was the case. My point is that regular virtual pats on the back and thoughts to ponder can be wonderful tools, but they shouldn’t be  your only tools. Sometimes we have to reach in and dig deep and remember that you are all you have in this world. I’m not saying that to discount the importance of your loved ones, but they are not inside of you, inhabiting your very soul. No one knows you better than YOU.

Much of my days recently have revolved around forming some semblance of normalcy. I expect many of you have similar routines. Whether it’s getting up and working from home, teaching children, or just wondering about groceries, it’s been challenging for many. I barely had time to acclimate myself to my new home before I was “forced” to stay here much of the time. I’m an introvert, but I am definitely not a homebody and it’s been a struggle.

This is entitled Fear because I believe in my heart of hearts that the self-quarantine, the social distancing, missing religious services, not finding toilet paper, all of the the small sacrifices we have made for the past month or so are going to seem trivial compared to what’s next. I hesitate to say that, but I want my readers to be prepared for a world that looks radically different in the upcoming year. It’s crucial to physically and mentally prepare for this and that’s why I am writing such a morbid and dark entry today. Do not allow the government to dictate how you take care of yourself. Please don’t believe your “leaders” when they do not care about your well-being. Keep doing what you’ve been doing, friends. Take care of yourselves by preparing yourselves.

Posted in Covid-19, Me, mental health, Uncategorized

Life now as we know it

It’s been a long six months since I last posted. So much has changed in my life and in the world.

It has been an extremely difficult half-year, full of changes and expectations that were not met. My husband and I FINALLY moved out of the region he had lived for most of his adult life and 10 years of mine. We are now geographically closer to my grown children, my friends, and my parents, but as irony would have it, we now cannot see them. Just as I started to get settled in this new house in a completely new and different setting, life is now on hold.

How are you dealing with the pandemic? Do you have someone to share your emotions with? How has your life been affected? Do you feel that any complaint or gripe you may have is unimportant or unworthy? Friend, your experience is your own and although perspective can be a great tool, it is okay to feel sad, anxious, depressed or any number of emotions you may be feeling. If you’re happy about spending more time with people in your home or happy to be having some time off work, that’s okay, too!

When this new normal actually becomes more normal and celebrities are no longer writing “social distancing” songs and you start to feel impatient, remember that our ancestors had challenging (hard as hell!) periods of time and life does eventually return, though different than before.

I have had to reign in so many emotions lately and allow myself to let them out only at certain times. Along with the isolation of the new normal, there are also feelings of unmet expectations and grief over the loss of everything I left behind when we moved. One complaint that I have is that I no longer have the space for exercising indoors, which is vitally important to me, especially right now. I allow myself to feel pissed, then work on alternatives.

That’s what it’s all about, dear ones. If there is a tiny glimmer of something that gives you hope, grab it and don’t let go. Sometimes you really have to lower your expectations, let go of whatever it is that is keeping you stuck or spiraling and reach for the hope that is out there. I know it is.

Stay safe and stay healthy. We’ll get through this.

Posted in mental health, Uncategorized

Halt!

Hello, dear readers. Today I want to talk about boundaries. The concept of personal boundaries is not a new concept to most people, especially those on the path of self-improvement, or as it’s called these days, being “woke.”  I’m not going to waste too much time defining what boundaries are. If you are fuzzy on this topic, I recommend this book.

This is a great book written from a Christian perspective and even though I no longer consider myself to be a Christian, it was the first book I ever read on the subject and it opened my eyes to a concept that I always felt inside of me, but never had a name for before.

As a recovering codependent, I have to admit that boundary setting and enforcement does not come easily to me. I’m learning. Let me give you an example of a boundary: Suppose you have a very strong aversion to cursing, yet your coworker throws F bombs around on the daily. At first, you might have laughed it off, while inside, you felt like an angry little monster might break free from your body and stomp around, hurling criticism at the offenders. That’s how it always felt for me; you may use any analogy you wish. After a couple of months of this scenario, you wonder why your coworker hasn’t intuited your dislike of the cursing, yet you haven’t said anything to them about it. You might think that they should be able to read your face or just infer from your body language. Wrong!  This is a game that women especially like to play. (Yes, I am one, so please don’t accuse me of sexism) Generally, most women of a certain age weren’t taught how to stand up for what we believe in. We were taught to be accommodating. While it’s great to be accommodating, if your virgin ears have had enough of being assaulted, it is your responsibility to say something. It might be a very scary thing to do. There are risks involved when you take a stance. Your coworkers might deem you a prude or exclude you from conversations.

This is the tricky part. Can you let it go? How important is it to you? What are the consequences? There are some boundaries that are a “must enforce” and there are others that, if enforced or even verbalized, can have devastating consequences. There are ways to verbalize that can save face for everyone involved and those are reserved for situations like the example above. Humor helps and sometimes a heart to heart talk with the offender(s) can do a world of good. It’s likely they had no idea you were offended and if they care, they will make an effort. There are other situations, such as emotional abuse, physical violence, etc. which must be swiftly and succinctly addressed.

The way in which the offender reacts says a lot about that person and your relationship. I want to add a caveat. Sometimes the offender is embarrassed or even surprised when you verbalize your boundaries and your expectations. In that case, they may initially react negatively. Give them time to process.

A note about expectations. A good conversation about your boundaries will also contain your expectations. An expectation is different than an ultimatum. An example (using the example above) could be something like: “In the future, could you remember not to use those words when I’m in the room?” Hopefully, they’ll catch on, remember and change their behavior, but that doesn’t always occur. A gentle reminder may be in order. If they blatantly ignore your requests, then it’s time to reassess.

Honoring your boundaries is something that is not easy for many of us. Often, it’s best to start out slowly. I guarantee you’ll feel better when you live with integrity.