There Are Two Pandemics Happening: Coronavirus And The Rise Of Mental Illness

There Are Two Pandemics Happening: Coronavirus And The Rise Of Mental Illness

You’re aware of the risks when it comes to not social distancing right now, as well as not wearing masks and gloves when you are out. Maybe you’re young and healthy, but you’re still trying to be extra careful with not putting yourself at risk for catching the virus. You may be not so much concerned about yourself. But you may be worried about passing the virus onto those who are physically vulnerable such as the elderly and those who have weak immune systems.

The goal is to protect yourself as well as your community. That’s understandable.

However, there is one major problem that is not getting enough attention. That is this pandemic has also increased the mental health risks such as increased depression and anxiety. That is not the worst part of it. Those who have mental illnesses who are trying to not regress into a hole are often judged if they go out to a hardware store to get ‘non-essential’ items. Their thinking is why bother putting the community at risk while going out to get an item that is ‘non-essential’.

You may see a man head over to the hardware store who is buying plenty of cans of paint. You may be thinking ‘how can he be selfish and put those at risk by going out to get items that he does not really need’. But here is the thing. Maybe for him, the cans of paint are essential. Maybe those cans of paint are helping him cope with his depression. Maybe he needs to so some home improvement during the time of quarantine for the sake of his mental health.

The same goes for the woman who is buying seeds and soil, as you may think that she is being selfish for risking others by purchasing a non-essential item. But what if she is an alcoholic who is doing her best to stay sober during this stressful time? Maybe buying seeds and soil to watch something grow is the very thing she needs to do in order to keep her sober.

The point is you cannot judge those who are leaving their homes to buy non-essential items. Sure, there is also a curbside pickup option. But that is not quite the point. You may be so focused on staying home unless you absolutely need to go out to get essential for the purpose of protecting those who are physically vulnerable. But don’t forget people are struggling with their mental health right now. There are more suicides, addiction relapses, and at the very least people who were doing well with their mental health have been regressing. Let’s not forget the wellbeing of those who are struggling as well.

Coronavirus is not the only epidemic going on right now. Mental illness is as well and this means you have to consider the needs of those who may not be physically vulnerable but are vulnerable due to the fact that they are struggling with mental illness right now.

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

It takes a village to raise a child.

It wasn’t until I became a parent that I fully understood, and came to love that saying. Just knowing “it takes a village” made me feel like there was somebody, and possibly even several somebodies, out there on my side, rooting for me. It made me feel not so alone and not quite so worried that I was screwing up my own little human.

As a parent you need to select your village wisely. Take one wrong piece of advice from the village idiot and you’ll be getting the parental stink-eye from a lot of other folks out there.

I don’t feel “it takes a village” is relative to just parent’s though. It’s important to have a village of support when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I take my tribe selection seriously!

I carefully choose the people that I take advice from and who I let into my weight loss bubble. Funny my saying that since I blog about most of it publically, but that’s not what I really mean. When you talk openly about trying to lose weight or change your habits you get input, asked for or not, valued or not. People like to give advice and help. Mostly it’s with a pure heart and good intentions.

I will listen to a lot, from a variety of people, but I only actually take a few people’s advice to heart, adding them to my village. You know what I mean. We all have well intended friends and family who still think the cabbage soup diet is the way to go. Those people would be on the “smile and nod” list and only shown property on the outskirts of town. Whereas hearing what works from a friend who really understands the craziness that is my head, that advice gets filed in the “good stuff, remember that!” and lives nearby in the village of my mind.

Weeding out the village idiots from the village people () can be a tricky and sometimes uncomfortable job. It’s not like they walk around with “I give bad advice intentionally” on their foreheads and sometimes they’re people who you are close with, be it emotionally or in proximity.

I have had office mates who I’ve had to uncomfortably tell “I really appreciate your trying to help but I have a team of people I am working with and it really overwhelms me to receive so much advice. If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to just follow what I’m doing and not get any further input.”

Man, that conversation is a hard one to have. It’s not nice. It has potential to make them feel bad and then you feel bad and nobody wants to feel bad.

Putting yourself first is hard, but important. You and your village are truly vital to your success.

My mental neighborhood starts with the people at Novarum, a health center in the Netherlands. Although I graduated from their bi-weekly sessions over two years ago, I still consider them an integral part of my success thus far. I also know they are there, just a phone call away, should I feel myself sliding down a slippery slope into old habits.

boxing moms

Me and Carolyn prepared to spar

 

Down the road from Novarum lives my pal Carolyn. She just simply gets me. I have interaction with her almost daily and she understands my kind of crazy. And believe me, it’s a special kind of crazy. We all need that one friends that just gets it. On top of being my mental collaborator she’s my sparring partner and workout buddy.

 

 

Me and Hilary, my village grocer

 

My village grocer is Hilary. She’s studied food, is passionate about food and is vocal about food. She’s the delicate balance of information, as I need it and can handle it, and advice. What I love best about her though is that she is always respectful of my boundaries.

 

Cindy, one of my trainers & me – at the gun show

 

Living in their own quiet cul-de-sac are the trainers from my gym. They shout encouragement to me as I tear through my workout. We laugh together when they say “burpees” and I reply with “I hate you”. They intimidated the hell out of me when they first moved into the ‘hood but after giving them a chance I know they want me to succeed just as much as I want to be successful.

 

 

And the best part about my village is my own home. I have the biggest cheerleader kissing me hello and goodbye every day. My husband, Marco, is one of the most understanding, supportive people I’ve encountered throughout my life. He’s seen me struggle with every aspect of the health game, so he knows it’s difficult. He encourages me in a non-pushy way, which can be a delicate dance. He eats what I want to eat because he knows I’m trying to be healthier. He’s gotten on the exercise bandwagon with me when I didn’t have anybody to work out with and we enjoyed it together. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. There is no better villager than that. Get one of those in your town as soon as you can.

Christmas party

Marco and me

 

What kind of neighbors make up your own mental village?

Feeling Fraudulent

Feeling Fraudulent

fraud

Fraudulent – that’s how I feel sometimes when people ask me how I’ve lost any sort of weight. It’s not that I’m not telling them the truth or that I am being dishonest, it’s just that the story is so involved.

Generally when people ask me about it, it’s after I’ve been to the gym and I’m standing there all aubergine in the face, sweat beads glistening drenched in sweat, and so pumped up on endorphins that I have a perma-grin nailed to my face.

I usually say what I’m doing right now, right this very moment of my life. I tell about my weekly routine but I feel like I’m shortchanging them somehow. I feel like I make it seem simple and that it’s just something I up and did one day, no prep work, no negativity, no failures – just that a gym opened in my office and “poof” I was there.

That’s of course not how it happened at all. Or did it? I mean, yes, the gym opened in my office and the very first day I was down there introducing myself to the trainers and setting up a meeting for my team to see all the shiny new equipment but is that really my story?

Unless asked, I tend to leave out the part where I had cognitive behavior therapy to deal with some serious food issues – binging, hiding food, shaming myself. I had issues that no book, website or friend could help me with. I needed the pros!

I leave out the eight month time span where I was in such a dark, anti-social place that I stopped eating lunch with my colleagues, people who I really liked, and spent my lunch hours in the office sandwich shop, table at the window, back to the world, nose in a book – any book. I even read crappy books just to not have to make eye contact. I may as well have draped a “do not disturb” sign down my back, as if it weren’t obvious enough.

Thoughts screamed in my head but I looked peaceful.

I feel like a fraud because what in the hell do I really know? Yeah, I’ve lost some weight and kept it off for the past two years. Yes, I am in the best physical shape I’ve been in for a very long time. Yes, my head feels like it is on straight for the first time in my adult life. Sure, I’m really happy with what is happening right now. I feel like I have unlocked the door to a healthy future for myself and I feel like I will never turn back.

But what does all of that even mean to somebody else?

Do I have all of the answers? Not hardly! Do I still struggle? Hell yeah! Am I at my goal weight or perfect weight or even close? Nope. So who am I to say anything?

I’ll tell you who I am.

I’m somebody who likes to share just in case there is some part of me or my story people can connect with.

I’m somebody who likes to help, if I can, even if I am not perfect.

I’m somebody who likes everybody to partake and feel part of the team. I don’t like to see somebody to sit on the sidelines because of their insecurities when in their heart they want to be in the thick of it all.

I’m somebody who gets real joy out of seeing other people succeed.

That’s who I am.  And now you know. And now, I do too.

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

Making Sense of the Eternal Internal Struggle

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes. ~Sally Field

How many times have you not followed your heart because you were worried about what other people might think? How often have you avoided doing something you truly wanted to do because you couldn’t stand the idea that other people would judge you?

Have you based your major life choices on your own desires, or have you allowed other people to influence you? Do you have regrets because you have given someone else the power to make decisions in your life, whether directly or indirectly? Have you chosen your job, a partner or your home because someone else thought you should?

You’re Not Alone

Most everyone has, at one time or another, made a choice in their lives that was based on someone else’s opinion. And while there are certainly times when it’s appropriate to do so, there are plenty of times that we regret not following our own intuition.

The difference is this: when you accept the advice of someone else because you feel that it’s right for you, you’re following your own gut and can consider it inspired action–but when you bend to someone else’s will to please them (despite your own feelings), you’re shortchanging yourself in the happiness department.

Why Do We Care What Other People Think, Anyway?

It’s human nature to care what other people think. From infancy, we learn that when we do what someone else wants us to do, they’re happy with us–and that feels good. As we get older and learn to make the occasional unpopular decision, we are sometimes shocked to learn that some people actually seem to stop being nice to us when we don’t follow their “advice” for living.

But ultimately, we care what people think because we are taught to base our identities on the messages they give us. When our parents tell us we’re good for following their rules, for example, we begin to feel that we need to follow the rules to be good. When our kindergarten teachers scold us for coloring outside the lines, we begin to feel that unless we “stay inside the lines,” we’re wrong.

We take the messages that we hear from others about ourselves every day of our lives, and we internalize them–to such an extent that we find ourselves dependent on the approval of others for our own self worth.


Should We Just Stop Caring?

Of course, this is a two sided coin. While we certainly need to learn to follow our hearts and our own intuition toward inspired action and to make our own life choices, there are times we need to follow the rules. For example, to be productive members of society, we need to follow certain societal norms–at the very least, we have to follow the laws of the land.

And, the fact of the matter is, most of us aren’t able to just “turn off” caring about what others, especially those we care about, think about us and our choices. We don’t want to become cold and immune to the emotions of others, but we want to be happy. To be happy, we must make our own choices, follow our own divine inspiration for what we want our lives to be. At the end of the day, we’re the ones who must live with the decisions we make.

So where does this leave us? Are we doomed to an eternal internal struggle? How do we start taking charge of our own lives and stop letting the judgments and opinions of others dictate our choices? What do you think?

Next Up: How to Stop Caring What People Think (Without Looking Like a Huge Jerk)



My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

Bliss Mission: Love, Not Judgment

How likely are you to judge someone who looks differently than you? What about someone who has a different religion, belief system, morals, values?

My knee-jerk response to that question is “oh, I never judge…I’m one of the most open-minded people I know!”

And while that may be true in some cases, the fact is that I’m human, and unfortunately, like everyone else in the world, I’ve made snap-judgments based on a person’s appearance or behavior.

For example, if I’m walking alone in a parking lot at night and I’m approached by a well dressed woman, I’m not likely to feel nervous–but if I’m approached by a not-so-well groomed man, I’m likely to squeeze my kids’ hands a little tighter and might even clutch my purse a little.

And, if he walks too close, I am likely to start walking faster.

I know, that’s terrible. I owe men everywhere an apology for that type of stereotype. Men, I’m sorry, I hope you’ll understand. 🙂

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, allow me to get to the point…

What about you? Do you find yourself judging your neighbor’s teenage daughter for wearing that short skirt? What about the family that never picks up their newspapers? Or the mom at the grocery store whose kids are terrorizing her?

Of course you do…at least now and then. It’s human nature. But did you know that judging other people can have a negative effect on YOU?

It’s pretty simple really. By thinking negatively about someone else, you are bringing negativity into your mind…which then, of course, attracts more of it into your life.

Ok, so here’s the deal: quit judging people already. And, quit taking others’ negative behaviors personally. You have a choice. YOU can decide how to let it affect you. You can decide how to react, and you can choose your own perception of the situation.

I know, easier said than done, right?

Something that I’ve discovered in my pursuit of fulfillment is that the way to avoid judging people (as often as possible, anyway) is to find compassion within yourself for your fellow humans.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, and the more you practice it, the easier it gets.

The next time you find yourself judging someone, take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. If a checker at the grocery store is rude to you, remember that she’s a person. Maybe she’s dealing with something in her life that is distracting her or upsetting her. Maybe she’s working three jobs and she is doing the best she can to take care of herself and her family.

If it’s your friend or family member driving you bonkers, you might even know what is bothering him or her. Maybe you can help them to get through it, maybe not.

Bliss Mission: Respond With Love

The bottom line is this: by responding with compassion, and by NOT TAKING IT PERSONALLY, you can avoid a lot of stress in your life–both for yourself and for people around you. And, my friends, avoiding stress means FEELING GOOD. And, like attracts like.

If you feel good, you will draw good into your life. Simple as that. So when you react and respond to those around you, do so with love, even if you don’t know the person.

And so, your Bliss Mission, should you choose to accept it, is this: spend the next 24 hours of your life consciously avoiding passing judgement on other people. Don’t beat yourself up if a judgmental thought pops in your head–just allow it to pass and then replace it with a more positive, compassionate thought.

You’ll be amazed at the difference this simple tweak in your thought process can make in your day. What do you say? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

Woman, Support Thy Sisters: Stop Perpetuating the Mommy Stigma

I recently engaged in a LinkedIn discussion that left me disgusted, shocked and angry. It seems that I shared an unpopular opinion in one of my writing groups, and while I wasn’t surprised by the fact that people disagreed with me, I was completely floored when another woman attacked me personally. She didn’t like what I had to say, and I respected that wholeheartedly. I’m always up for a friendly and spirited debate–but then she took it one step too far. She implied that because I have children, I must be an incompetent writer.

This woman, who later admitted to being a mother herself, spewed hate and ignorance, the likes of which I haven’t seen since junior high school. She even attempted to insult me by calling me a “mommy blogger.”

Guess what? I am a mommy, and I am also a blogger. I’m an awesome wife, a homeowner, a friend, a daughter, a granddaughter. I love my life, and I’m proud of my family. I also happen to be a pretty successful freelance writer who brings in a pretty decent income. I’m passionate and I know what I want in this world–and I’m not afraid to go after it.

But apparently, simply admitting that one has children in some circles is a sign to some people that she’s not capable of being a professional. Instead, women who admit they’re mothers are often belittled and ridiculed–and often, this treatment comes from other women, even other mothers. People who openly admit to being moms might be called “unprofessional” and told that they must not be taking their work seriously–even from people who are less experienced and making less money than they are.

It’s not just the writing community, either. Back in my corporate life, I experienced discrimination from some of my colleagues, including other mothers, because of my maternal status–and my research tells me that I’m not alone.

Being female already puts us behind our male counterparts in the professional world. On average, we earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. While there are countless rationalizations for this phenomenon, there are just as many legitimate complaints.

Discrimination At Its Finest

If a career-driven woman aggressively pursues her own success, she’s called a bitch. If she chooses to focus on her family, she’s considered “just a mommy.” And, if she tries to “have it all” and work while she raises her family, God forbid, her intelligence is questioned and she might be called incompetent. The really messed up part is that men don’t generally experience the same type of discrimination when they become parents.

The thing that really gets under my skin in regard to discrimination against women, and especially mothers, in the workplace is that it very often comes from other women. By the time we’re 33 years old, 76 percent of us are or will become mothers. There’s a pretty good chance that could include you (or your partner), if it doesn’t already.

Woman Vs. Woman

As a society, so many have been conditioned to think that motherhood=career suicide that many women turn against one another. While competition in the workplace is natural and even encouraged in many cases, it doesn’t need to involve personal attacks–especially on a woman’s maternal status.

I don’t know about y’all, but I am over this whole “women discriminating against other women” thing. Some people seem to thrive on it–maybe they think that by spewing hate and insults at the other women in their respective industries, they’re somehow proving their own superiority. Or maybe they are trying to appear more masculine, as they mistake spitefulness for assertiveness. I honestly don’t know the answer here–maybe it should simply be chalked up to the fact that some people are just plain negative.

So back to the story…

While I’ll openly admit that my heart was pounding in shock and anger as I read this woman’s venomous words, after I had some time to think on it, it occurred to me that my initial reaction would only encourage her negative behavior. So, I reminded her that it’s easy to be nasty in a semi-anonymous forum to people she doesn’t know and will probably never meet. I apologized for any perceived sarcasm or negativity she found in my responses (although I was nothing but respectful to her–unless you count the time I suggested that her negative attitude might be the reason she’s having trouble finding high-paying gigs), and then I wished her well and removed myself from the conversation.

Sure, I had a brief urge to tell her what I really thought, and believe me, it wouldn’t have been pretty. But that would just be putting more negativity out into the world–thus, bringing more of it into my life. I don’t need it–and neither do the rest of the women in the world.

Woman, Support Thy Sisters

Listen, girls, I know just as well as anyone how it feels to be competitive with the other women in your life. Who doesn’t? This society encourages a certain type of perfection, and anyone who doesn’t fit in that perfect little box can expect some level of discrimination.

But I propose that we, as women, work together to climb that collective “ladder of success.” Let’s stick our proverbial hammers in our back pockets on the way up so that when we reach the top, we can break through that perceived glass ceiling people are always talking about.

And on the way up, why not give our sisters a helping hand? Reach out to the women in your life, personal and professional, and you might just find a kind of support that you didn’t know was possible. Get off the woman-hating band wagon and love your sisters, flaws and all.

Why It Matters

Here’s the kicker. When we focus on tearing down the other women around us, we are also tearing down ourselves on some level. Remember, you get back what you put out into the universe. So, when you’re constantly trying to “one-up” or belittle the other women in your life, you might just look in the mirror and see someone you don’t even like. After all, you’re one of those people you’re always cutting down. However, if you can muster up a little support for (yourself and) the other feminine folks in your life, you might just find that a beautiful, happy person you’re proud to call Self smiles back at you instead.

My challenge to my female readers today is to support and encourage the women in your life. Instead of feeling competitive and threatened by one another, celebrate one another in all of your feminine perfection. Offer praise, support, advice. Focus on the good things about the women in your life, and watch yourself  experience immeasurable personal growth and increased self love–and ultimately, an improved quality of life.

As for the men, if you’re still reading, I challenge you to tell the women in your life that they matter. Hug your significant other and tell her she’s amazing. Call your mother and thank her for putting up with you for all these years. Tell your female colleagues that you appreciate them.

What do you think? Have you or someone you know experienced discrimination in the workplace? How did you handle it? How do you support the women in your life?

This post was originally published on InPursuitofFulfillment.com. If found anywhere else, this content is illegally copied and should be reported.

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