This is the first morning in months if not years with a quiet house.
Of course, there is often a toddler awake by this time. But even when I rise before her I have a tendency to fill my space with noise to distract myself from time with my own thoughts. I used to love self-reflection but it's been overwhelming the past two years. It seems my life is just now settling down from the whirlwind of graduate school even though that was over 4 years ago. There's always been some next step I was racing toward, some new cliffside in the way I had to scale.
Don't misunderstand, we are still planning our next steps. I think that's a perpetual part of life. But I feel... content. I'm preparing but I'm not rushing because for the moment, I'm at peace in the moment. If you've kept up with my posts of the past, you know that's rare for me so I'm trying to soak up every second. So today, there will be no television shows or podcasts or chatter to pull my focus away from the simple pleasure of having time to write and sip a cup of warm coffee in my PJs.
|Who could have a bad morning with this sweet mug?|
People in my home country love to pretend that hard work is all it takes to be a success, and they generally define success as material and monetary wealth. The first half is demonstrably false, and I used to think the second was as well but these days I'm not so sure. It's not that I believe you are unsuccessful if you aren't rich; it's that our society is structured in such a way that we really can't do much without money and it is literally killing us. The suicide rate has increased dramatically in recent years and a significant portion of that is due to financial instability and struggle. I have a family member who killed themselves for just that reason and it is certainly something that has haunted me. Not to mention all the smaller ways lack of money ripples throughout your life:
- Can't afford decent insurance or regular doctors visits, meaning health concerns often go unchecked contributing to worse health and earlier death
- Can't afford mental healthcare contributing to declining mental state and increased rate of suicide for that reason at worst and poor physical health due to stress at best
- Can't afford decent, safe housing
- Can't afford healthier food options
- Having to work long hours and/or multiple jobs which contributes to rapid physical decline and poor mental health
|Some stuff I've been able to afford that makes me feel better.|
I can promise you that having money (though we still are by no stretch of the imagination rich) has had the single largest impact on my physical and mental health of any change in my life. And it was mostly out of my control that I have it now. I fought for some money I was owed at my job, but in general we just accepted what we were offered. Not everyone has those offers or opportunities, and it breaks my heart to think off all the people who will continue to suffer - often for the rest of their lives - because of something they can do nothing about.
I mean, we all knew this was coming, right? I work in the schools and am therefore off work for the summer. I broke it down for Hubs last night. There are 3 basic spheres in my life that pull my focus on any given day:
- Home (parenting falls into this category)
|A new hobby I finally have time for.|
So, yes, this is different from time. While I appreciate the freedom in my schedule that being off allows (and trust me, I am SO grateful), I also appreciate the freedom from stress. My job has been a source of incredible stress for me. Some of that is on me because there were other things going on that prevented me from focusing and being as productive during work hours as I should have been. But a lot of it is just the nature of the job. And while every job comes with some stress, there are obviously many that come with less. For goodness sake, a huge part of the reason I chose my field was because it is routinely listed as one of the most stable fields financially with good work-life balance. And yet that has not been anywhere close to my experience.
I'm hesitant to leave for a lot of reasons: I really like a lot of the people I work with, I do like having summers off, supposedly I'll get some loan forgiveness in a few years, I've spent years of my life preparing for this field, and I do genuinely find it interesting. At the same time, I'm afraid it will literally kill me. I have suffered from suicidal ideation for about 15 years now. Over the past year, it got dramatically worse. And almost the exact moment I walked out of the building for the last time on the last day of school those thoughts were truly gone. Now, that's temporary because ideation is a part of my mental illness and probably something I will deal with the rest of my life. But for a while there, it was almost constant. Yet that entire last week I was walking on air because I knew I was nearing the point when I wouldn't have to come back - for two months at least.
|This fabulous new planner has been so helpful; there's a whole section on goals!|
Listen, I think everyone on Earth could probably benefit from therapy and I'm a huge proponent for it. (This is why we need universal healthcare, people!) The past couple of sessions I discovered things about myself that I probably knew somewhere deep down but had never really realized or acknowledged before:
- One of my core values is time in nature. I hate being sweaty and gross outside so I had always sort of assumed I didn't like being outside period, but so many of my dreams, visions, goals, etc. have to do with getting into nature. I want to live near the ocean, I compost and recycle, I'm planning a vegetable garden, I love fresh flowers, I love to swim, I love natural light to the point that I feel nauseated with yellow fake lamp light at times. And because of my false assumptions about myself, I haven't been feeding this need. So I'm working on that by going for more walks to and around the park near our house - bonus points for also getting me exercise, entertaining Little, and having tons of Pokestops - and planning some trips to beautiful natural locations. I'm looking for other ways to incorporate more of this into my life so I'm open to suggestions!
- I don't remember my childhood. This is a weird one. I believe I wrote about The Wreck here a few years back. If you don't recall, the TLDR version is that I and much of my family, both immediate and extended, were in a bad wreck when I was in high school that resulted in serious injuries for many including my own broken collarbone and concussion as well as the death of one of my aunts. I only recently came to realize how odd it was that other people seemed to have such vivid memories of their childhoods when I didn't. I made the connection in therapy that this was probably the result of my brain injury. There are three or four bright spots, moments colored with strong emotion that I recall but that's pretty much it before high school. I know my past, but I don't remember it. I didn't wake up after The Wreck with no idea who I was or who my family was or anything. I knew that, and I've heard enough stories that I could tell you a lot about how I grew up. But I remember almost none of it. No wonder I have struggled with my identity and finding myself - turns out half my life was missing! This information didn't suddenly solve all my problems but it explained a lot about myself to myself, like why I have so much trouble connecting to others. As I said, it doesn't fix the problem, but it's still reassuring to understand more about the cause. For all I know, that brain injury is at the root of my mental illness - though there is also some family history so it's likely not exclusively to blame.
|My walk in the park - bu-dum-tshh.|
Finally, I know that everything on this list of "ways I improved my mental health" is stuff that isn't available to everyone. As much as my life has sucked in some ways, I also have an incredible amount of privilege. And it's awful that I can't list out a bunch of self-care, mental health tips that anyone could access. I'm planning a post like that in the future and there are things out there, but the reality of our world is that not everyone gets what they need. Some people even actively try to prevent their fellows from getting what is needed. It's awful and I wish I could fix it. I think an important for step is for us to just acknowledge the truth of it. We can't start taking better care of each other until we admit that everyone deserves care.
My lovelies, I hope you all are well. What do you do to take care of yourself? Please find someway to love and care for yourself today, however small. 💙💚💛💜 And happy Pride from your favorite Bi blogger!