When I wrote my post earlier this week, I wasn’t expecting to get as angry as I did. Not only did it get in the way of what I wanted to write about, but it frustrated me. I know it’s complicated to properly define mental health, but I didn’t think it was complicated because the dictionary doesn’t know how to define it. But we’re moving on…
A question that’s just as complicated to answer as ‘how do you define mental health’ is similar: what does mental health look like? I don’t mean yours specifically (though that IS the Mental Health Month Challenge!), but what the concept looks like. So I created a short photo essay to answer this question.
When someone asks what it means to be successful, the same words come up often. Wealth, fame, finding love, living a comfortable life. There so many seemingly obvious answers to this question, and sometimes it seems objective in the way we define success. Whether or not you agree with these answers (personally, I don’t), that definition isn’t relevant right now – and we need to get used to that for the time being.
Social distancing is the buzzword in the U.S. right now, and rightfully so – it’s important and necessary and it’s not that hard to figure out what it means. And while it’s extremely important, it’s also not easy for people who are used to being out and about for the majority of the week. In fact, if you’re used to a more social lifestyle, social distancing can have a real impact on your mental health.
I started this week feeling a bit off. To be clear, this wasn’t in a good way or a bad way, it’s just kind of the conclusion I came to as my Monday progressed. Part of it is that this week will take me out of my usual routine, which always does something to make me slightly anxious. But the other part of it is this feeling that I’m missing something.
I’m heading on a trip everybody! This week I am leaving to visit a close friend of mine who currently lives in Spain, and I am extremely excited to experience a new place and culture. I’ve written about my travels before and I will continue in the future, but in mentioning my trip to a few people I heard a few things that got me thinking. After telling a co-worker about my trip, she lamented on all the trips she could have gone on but either wasn’t able to or chose not to which, I mean, is life. But it did get me thinking about the reasons I don’t do certain things, and whether or not they’re as valid as I make them out to be.
I’ve been trying to work these two words into my vocabulary for months, trying to say it out loud as much as I can. It’s possible. There are a ton of ways to say it too, based on your inflection, so it was also important that I was saying it in the right tone of voice. At first, I was saying it wrong and turning into a negative phrase, but after some repetition, I’ve been turning it into a more positive reminder and tried to strip those words of their negativity.
So it’s October! While September is a little less in your face about it being fall, by the time we reach October people are pretty much in full-on Jack Skellington mode or sending Dwight Schrute’s pumpkin head to their friends. But for me, October can signal a lot of changes – the most important one being that summer is over, and this year it’s especially important to me.
Things have been very strange for the past month. Not happy or sad, good or terrible, difficult or easy. Just very, very strange.
This month, I was supposed to move to Europe and begin a job teaching English. It’s something I’d been looking forward to for a very long time. In fact, I’d taken all the necessary steps months in advance because of how sure I was about this situation. But last month, about six weeks before I was supposed to head out, a feeling hit me. It would be easy to just say I had second thoughts and leave it at that, but that wasn’t it.
Sometimes with second thoughts, you’re just afraid that you’re doubting yourself, and it’s not uncommon to go ahead with the decision you’ve made. But once I got that feeling that I didn’t want to go anymore, it stuck and it stayed there. And while I’m not feeling any one type of way about it, it is…weird.
I’m not going to get into the details right now, because that’s not why I’m sharing this. Maybe one day I’ll share that story on this blog, but that day is not today. At the moment, the most important part of this decision isn’t the decision that I’ve made – it’s everything else that’s going to happen to me now. Say what you will, but a decision not to do something is still a decision – it might not sound that way, but it’s true. And now, even though I’m not moving halfway around the world, my life is still going to change. That’s the nature of making any sort of important decision in life. In some form or other, it will change the trajectory of where you’re headed.
I’m sorry I was gone from here for a while – I couldn’t post as much as I wanted because honestly, it’s been hard to wrap my head around what I’m doing these days. But I’m in a good spot in a ton of ways. As I long as I focus on that, I’ll be good to figure out what’s next. I’m hoping to continue to give you all some #premium mental health content going forward in addition to joining me on this journey. Hope you’re along for the ride!
I don’t really like myself. That is not a put down, that is not a criticism. That does not mean the world, or my world, is ending. That is just what I believe.
I am currently plodding through work, wading through the vast amount of things I need to catch up on, and I’m fighting the post-vacation blues. I visited family in Texas over the Memorial Day weekend holiday and had a great time! As is typical with short vacations like this, I didn’t feel like I had enough time, but I really enjoyed seeing everyone being able to soak up the beginning of summer. Continue reading