Posted in Uncategorized

Brand New Year, Brand New Administration

I don’t usually like to write about politics, but mental health, which is the main focus of this blog, is political.

I found out late last year that one of my children is transgender. When “the one who will not be mentioned here” willfully took away rights for LGBTQ people, it was a tough blow, but the current President is an ally and is even hiring PA’s Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, to be Assistant Health Secretary. So, whether you agree with my political stance or not, mental health, especially for marginalized people, is very political.

I have learned so much in the past few months of talking to my daughter (AMAB – assigned male at birth) about her journey. So many parents claim to have seen signs in their young children with their clothing and play preferences, but I didn’t and that sometimes makes me question myself, not her. She is an adult now and will make her own decisions. For the uneducated, the terms that trans people use and prefer have changed drastically over the past few years. Gender is a touchy topic, but it’s a social construct. How you feel about yourself outside, as a male or female, for most of us, “matches” what is between our legs. For trans people, there is a dysphoria there. They feel one gender but inhabit the body of another. Imagine living your life like that!

Many of us dislike certain parts of our body, but our genitalia and our gender are such an important part of what makes us, “us.”

How can you be an ally to the transgender and non-binary (ENBY) community? Easy!

  1. Use the person’s preferred pronouns and if you don’t know, ask!
  2. Don’t make your relationship all about their gender journey.
  3. Support businesses that have space spaces for trans and ENBY people (this includes bathrooms)
  4. Support politicians and other community leaders who support trans and ENBY people.
  5. Teach others the correct terminology and learn it yourself if you aren’t familiar with it. Here is a list. Transgender Terminology – Transgender Trend
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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 Uncategorized

comparison

It has been said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt). This holds true even more so today than when it was first spoken. Social media, the evil that it can be, has turned comparison into an art form.  Where else can you spend hours scrolling through the curated lives of friends, family and strangers? Just take a glance at your Facebook or Instagram feed. Did you know that there are even people on Instagram that are called “influencers?” I’m not sure what the qualifications are for such a title, but think about what that means for you. Are you allowing strangers or even friends to dictate what your values are? Are you changing yourself to keep up with others? Are you feeling depressed or resentful after spending time on Facebook or Instagram?

If so, perhaps it’s time for some detox. First of all, let me be the one to tell you that you are valuable just the way you are. Today. What you bring to the world is far more important than what you look like.

Secondly, once you have embraced that concept, it’s time for a social media cleansing. There might be people in your Instagram feed who inspire you to be a better version of you. This is where things can get dicey. I follow some inspirational people on Instagram and I often learn a great deal from them. However, these people are telling you things and showing up on Instagram in a way that benefits THEM. Read that again. Yes, your favorite inspo on Instagram is most likely trying to sell their latest book or market themselves in such a way that you rely on them, thus becoming a consumer of what they’re selling.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for detox, I recommend taking a break from all social media until you no longer feel withdrawals. In my opinion, this is necessary in order to start connecting with yourself. Feel your feelings. Start a journal if that helps. Think about how you feel when you are alone with your own thoughts, not the thoughts of others. Write down or contemplate what brings you joy or what makes you angry. Start a gratitude journal. Some days it it will be very difficult to find anything to be grateful for. I know because I have tried this experiment myself and found myself feeling grateful just for the coffee in my mug or the fact that my cat hasn’t puked up a hairball today.

I have found that the unfollow option on Facebook helps me immensely. I no longer engage in political flame wars or spend time thinking about my high school friend’s seemingly perfect life.

If you have never lived a life without social media, you may find this difficult. If you rely on it to connect with important people, shoot your peeps an email and just give them a heads up that you’ll be reachable by email or text for a bit.

I grew up without social media and it’s helpful for me to remember that 20 years ago, I didn’t know or care about what old friends were doing. I didn’t know how many kids they had, where they lived or anything else about their lives and I was okay with that. At first, it was fun reconnecting. Now that I have more knowledge about their lives than I care to, it’s time to reel it in a notch.

If Facebook or Instagram comparisons are robbing you of your joy, take a break. It will be there when you are ready to come back.

Posted in Uncategorized

were you seen?

Hello dear readers. I wonder if any of you participated in last week’s experiment to be seen. I did. I can tell you that since I have begun not hiding, I have felt more authentic. I don’t mean literally hiding, although that could be fun, lol. I mean not shrinking. For me, that also meant not giving a fuck about what I look like during certain times. I still wear makeup to work and usually “do” my hair, but on my days off, I’m not doing that. I can face the strangers at Target and Walmart “naked” as myself, no fancy clothes and no makeup. It’s hard here in the south to make that commitment. As a non-native southerner, I have learned that many southern women pride themselves on being put together. It’s up to each of us to decide how much of ourselves we hide behind our clothes  and our hair and our makeup. For me, it’s an experiment to allow my true physical self to be seen. It helps me. You may be different.

This week I will still be practicing being seen. I will also incorporate some other things, such as not apologizing so much.