This time last year, I wrote about starting fresh for the new year. I was going to train for a half-marathon, get in shape, and start living the life I wanted, once and for all. Sure, it seemed lofty, but I’m a smart, capable person with 33 years under my belt. Mind over matter, you know?
Turns out my mind is the problem.
There’s nothing “wrong” with my mind, per se, but it’s not quite the same as it was during college and my early twenties. In the space of six years, lots of major life changes happened one on top of the other, from job transitions and having a baby to dealing with thyroid cancer and the relentless, everyday reality of being an adult. That last one might be universal, but it sure packs a punch sometimes.
Through all of these changes, I compartmentalized and often ignored the issues I was having. I suffered from pretty bad postpartum depression but never dealt with it, figuring it would just go away on its own. Having a treatable cancer (that I’m in remission for, FYI) is still a pretty big bummer. And those everyday life things, like laundry and working and keeping a small human alive? They take up a shocking amount of mental space.
A few weeks ago, I vacuumed our bedroom. Nothing special, right? Except I never vacuum. Like, ever. Gross, I know, but I’ve had more pressing concerns than keeping our carpet clean. I realized how great it felt to have a clean floor. I reveled in the simple task and the results. And I realized that I had to do something about the fog I’ve been living in.
Taking a chapter out of several friends’ books, I’ve decided to pursue a different kind of resolution this year: mental health.
Somehow, in 2019, mental health is still a taboo subject, despite the fact that near-daily news stories showcase a disheartening level of mental health problems nationwide. Young kids are killing themselves. You’re now more likely to die of an opioid overdose than a car wreck. Mental health problems don’t excuse or account for all the ills of modern life, but maybe we’d all breathe a little easier if we could talk about our struggles without feeling like social pariahs.
So, here I am, talking about it. I’m a functioning member of society, and – not but – I need help processing some of the stress and anxiety I feel every day. Last week, I started counseling. The woman I met with seemed genuine, and we talked for just under an hour about various things, an information-gathering session that she’ll use to form some kind of plan going forward. I don’t know where it goes from here.
My toes have only just hit the water on this mental health thing, but I can tell that it’s going to be helpful.
I’m finally giving those troubling symptoms in the back of my mind a chance to air out. Over the last decade, I’ve gone from someone who could single-handedly reorganize the office’s filing system in her spare time at work to someone who feels like crying at the idea of cooking anything more complicated than tacos for dinner.
I stay up too late playing FreeCell and Sudoku on my phone.
I leave piles of laundry (mostly clean) littered around our bedroom to deal with “later.”
I let the iPad babysit Arthur more than common decency allows me to admit.
I’d rather drown my sorrows in Netflix true crime documentaries than pick up a book.
This isn’t who I am as a person. (Well, I do love true crime stories, but I used to love reading, too.) Maybe I’ve never been type A, but this level of apathy scares me. It goes beyond the mental fog of parenthood and starts heading into the realm of depression and anxiety. But there’s hope, and there’s help. And that’s what’s important.