Life is tough.
Our schedules are jam packed; we have work obligations, child care commitments, and — Junior, stop that shrieking –hardly a moment to unwind from the inexorable daily grind.
For parents (thankfully, which I am not), the grind must seem particularly indefatigable. I can hear the weariness –bordering on utter exhaustion — when I chat with my parent friends.
With life coming in hot, how many of us consistently attend to our mental health needs?
I suspect that many of us don’t feel we have enough time (or money) to engage in mental health maintenance. The result: we put mental health on the back burner — somewhere between cleaning out the garage and repairing that malfunctioning lawn mower.
I was the same way — until, that is, my mental health issues floored me.
From adolescence to adulthood, I have battled mental health issues. During my freshman year of college, I was officially diagnosed with OCD — although there were telltale signs during my teen years. Following my diagnosis, I met with a counselor every week in college. And, in part, because of the counselor’s direction/friendship, I thrived — steadying myself after OCD threatened my equilibrium.
When I attended (and stumbled) my way through law school, I had a weekly appointment with a trusted counselor. Law school provides enough mental anguish; I didn’t need my OCD and depression compounding matters. With a giant assist to Dr. Gullickson, I survived and, with a begrudging admittance, even semi-enjoyed law school’s tribalistic rituals. I can do without the Socratic method though.
The commonality during my (relatively successful) academic career: a weekly appointment with a trusted counselor.
Then real life interfered — and interrupted my weekly counseling sessions. Because of expense (Great Recession), the Bar exam, and, perhaps, even smugness (I don’t need counseling anymore), I discontinued my weekly counseling sessions. It wasn’t a particularly well thought out decision — more a casual “I’ll attend to my mental health needs” when I can.
News flash: mental health doesn’t wait in line until you are good and ready to deal with it. It strikes — like a hurricane or earthquake — and floors everything in its wake. See my 2015.
Before lecturing you about about the importance of mind health, mental health is, admittedly, somewhat of a luxury. From wading through byzantine insurance rules and regulations to finding an “in network” provider to the sheer expense of weekly counseling appointments, mental health can be a costly endeavor. During the economic downturn (and my corresponding employment instability), I struggled to find a counselor — partly out of stubbornness but mostly because of cost.
Like the “I’m too busy” line, financial realities may be a legitimate — even justifiable — reason for neglecting your mental health. But it isn’t a smart one.
I have alluded to 2015 — and my descent into (mental health) darkness. When the depression/OCD double-quake hit, I quivered…under my blanket covers. I was ill-equipped to deal with my mind’s subterfuge — in part because I had previously trivialized my mental health needs.
All of us have countless responsibilities vying for our already limited attention span. But like a shrieking child (Junior –stop banging those pots!), your mental health stops for nothing.
Life is tough — don’t make it tougher by ignoring your mental well-being.