mental health, perspective

Just 11 Days

It was the wee hours of the morning. 4:00 am to be exact. The loneliness set in. My partner in crime was whisked away yet again for 11 days. These days seem manageable in isolation yet in combination lies the challenge. 

The void that lingers. 11 days. 22 days. 33 days. When a year passes and you miss far more days than you have the sadness sets in. How much was missed? How much made the cut? Was it enough? Some weeks it’s a Monday that you feel the toll in life hit. Other weeks the sleepless worry hits on Tuesday. Sometimes it hits more than one day. It’s a vicious cycle.

Sometimes life puts obstacles or signals in your path to test your strength: to test your resilience. Sometimes these barriers seem impossible yet we find a way to push onward. I’m in the midst of reading the latest royal book, Spare. It’s odd to think about the word spare in the context of the book. A spare child. A spare heir. A spare to discard. No matter how many pages deep I am in the book, I will be forever held up by the word spare.

My life doesn’t have spares. I don’t have spare kids. I don’t have spare friends. I don’t have spare time with either. I don’t spare any part of my life. That means the time I miss can’t be spared at all. Oh the quandary of that latter statement.

How do you count time when you can’t spare time? You don’t. You wander through empty space as if time wasn’t associated. A wading of sorts. You are there but not really there. The shell of you is present but the mind space has drifted somewhat to a space in time that is all-inclusive of your special people. Drifting or wading through memories of past and memories to come in the future.

The book speaks to losing a mum. I have a mum. A mummy. A mommy. I certainly don’t have a spare mommy and I am certainly not a spare to my kids. Rather I’m present just like my mom. No matter the challenge I’m there. No matter the challenge she is there. But one day will Mommy always be there? The sad reality is no. For now I won’t spare my time as mummy or with mummy for it is valued. For those of you who don’t have that opportunity with your mum, my heart hurts for you.

With grief many occupy head space with memories of those lost but not forgotten. Sometimes that includes a mom. I reflect on this as a mom I know lost her battle with cancer this week. Her time wasn’t spared. 

Many include the missing in future plans honoring their memories. Holding on to the happy times together. I do this often. My nephew. My dad. My good friends. Those gone too soon due to death, but there are others who leave for other reasons. Maybe a big move to a new city. Maybe an experience of a lifetime overseas. Maybe even a work obligation causing one to live elsewhere temporarily. Time away. A void that may never be replaced.

I may lose 11 days today. 22 days the next cycle or 33 the next round. What makes this particular trek difficult is the unknown. How long does time sit in this stage. Does it continue for infinity as it does with one who dies? Does it keep looping in terms of days or weeks as it does now? I can’t stay lost in the empty space of consciousness. I must shift.

As 2023 rounded the corner I shifted from the dullness of being lonely to a new mindset of lonely. One that isn’t perfectly designed as I’m in it. I’m just more aware. I’m conscious within the subconscious. I’m trucking through new obstacles in a different way. I’m not sparing time as time can’t be spared. People can’t be spared. Those important will never be spare at all. I’m valuing the front and center and focusing less on the loss(es). 

None of us can reverse time. None of us can spare or bank time. Every week I will be present in my own little ways. Avoiding spare time. Spare people. Forging ahead on borrowed time. If there is such a thing.

challenges, mental health

A Tragedy

It was spooky season. Fall in the air. Football on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s fall y’all. In the south fall is intertwined with football, cheerleading and tailgates. Fall is fun with friends this time of year. Sometimes too much fun. Sometimes the fun clouds our judgement.

This spooky season tragedy hit too close to home. A beautiful girl. A kind spirit. A smile to light up the room. A friend to many. A good one gone too soon. A community left distraught. So much lost in an instant. One who will never make it to graduation. Such a loss for her family and friends.

One decision ended in tragedy. One momentary lapse in judgment. We all have them but many don’t understand that choices can have devastating consequences. This hits less than a year after another young life was lost in the same community. Different circumstances yet same outcome. A young life was lost. Just barely 16.

Some of the same kids are dealing with grief again. The same school system shocked. The same counselors rallying to support the young lives dealing with the chaos. Social media memory reals. So much to process. All the while life is expected to go on uninterrupted for many. Sadness lurks. Loss is ever so present. Death is not kind.

As you read this post, think of those you love. Cherish the moments. The memories. Take the pictures. Save the voicemails. Record the giggles. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late. Also be aware of how loss lurks and impacts those around you. Check in on others often. Do your part. Ask questions. Be ready to listen and share in the burden of pain.

Make time for others. Choose empathy over sympathy. Be present with those who need support. Remind young lives of the importance of safety in and around vehicles. Seatbelt priorities. Number of kids in one vehicle. Driver experience. The list goes on and on.

Be cautious around holidays when many celebrations take place. Being alert on the roadways can be a life saver. Parents make sure your kids have lifelines to reach out to in case of an emergency. Consider location tracking even if your teen feels it’s a violation of their privacy. Keep communications open.

High school.

College.

Young adulthood.

It’s all the same for parents. A parent will always worry. It’s because just one tragedy could be their life sentence without their loved one. One day at a time is all we really have. Live your life to the fullest. Every day.

Pray for the community, family and friends of this young girl. Now and in the future. Sadness is hovering on my home front. It tears me up but only time can help feelings settle. A new normal. All I can do is support and help process the loss. Not an easy task with a teen.

mental health

Just a Giggle

I had a moment in bed at the end of the night that caused me to smile and giggle out loud. It was a great reminder about laughter. I might have been alone at the time but I had my own party of one giggle session. 

Even when life sucks, you can laugh about it. Laughter is a form of joy and it in itself can have a rippling effect. For me the evening I had a random giggle, I was mad. The anger somehow shifted away in the moment as the laughter overpowered the frown. A funny reality.

As I think about my life, the life of my close friends and others, I see challenges. My close friend is mourning the loss of her family pet of years. The loss is draining. A little laughter or smiles can help her over the hump of the initial loss. A distraction of sorts. Not a cure but a moment in time to readjust. 

A loved one is battling health concerns. Sudden weight loss. Long term effects from potentially life threatening diagnosis. So much burden weighing on one’s life. A smile. A giggle. A softer side here and there can improve one’s outlook. If even for a day. A half of day. An hour. A moment of pleasure vs the constant of pain or displeasure.

The shitty workplace. The boss who takes and takes. And takes again. Look in the mirror. It’s not you. It’s them. Laugh it off. If you are still tasked to enter data in a computer all day, giggle about their stupidity. If somebody insists you copy, collate or laminate, just sing you a song. I think I can. I think I can. And laugh it off. Over paid data entry clerk. Over paid girl Friday copy clerk. 

Celebrate the moment in time where you did minuscule tasks to get by. Laugh a little. The insult or pain of the tasks are just temporary. You know your worth. Don’t fret about the now. The future is bright. We are all capable of adjusting our environmental distractions or displeasures.

Laugh it off. Shake your head. Giggle. Grab a coffee with a friend or two and reminisce about old times. Laugh some more. I’m sure you will be rejuvenated to the point you can endure more pain. More copy clerk duties. More medical tests. More grief. And when life smacks you in the face again with an obstacle. Laugh some more.

I had a buddy in my life for many years. He laughed a lot. He laughed loud and hearty when he farted for example. The big belly laugh. The shitty grin. The laugh again. A fart created such laughter. Not a care in the world at that moment. We should all have buddy moments to spark the giggles needed to reset the shittyness (no pun intended) of what life has in front of us at that moment.

This post is dedicated to Shadow. The best doggo who crossed the rainbow bridge this week. Although it’s not my sad story, the sadness my friend is feeling has caused me to reflect a little this morning. The outcome was this post about the softer side of life while giving a nod to my buddy who has been gone some time now. May he be reading this post with a hearty laugh of his own.

I feel fortunate to be here today writing. May may giggles today spill over to others in my life that are struggling to find the giggles due to their grief or stress at the moment.

challenges, mental health

Hungry

It’s 5am on the weekend. I’m hungry. I haven’t been to the grocery store so options are limited. I’ve eaten out too much already this week. I need to go to the gym thus I can’t eat too much.

I am still hungry.

I dozed off. I woke up and my tummy is gurgling. In its own way my stomach is reminding me to eat. I hear it. I feel it. Somehow I decide it’s better to stay snuggled under the covers. 

I am still ever so hungry.

A deep sigh didn’t take the hunger away. My mind is contemplating the chill in the air vs. the hunger in my belly. My mind is also telling my inner brain that 5 more minutes  of sleep is needed over nourishment. I doze off again.

I am hungry.

I can now daydream about my breakfast at my favorite restaurant. It’s helpful but doesn’t satisfy my appetite. I can be rational and think of the protein shake and to-go power bar, but again that isn’t satisfying or remotely motivating to get me out of bed.

The hunger rumbles in my belly as a constant reminder. As I sit hungry. I will imagine my butler service. The service I don’t have making me an omelette of my choosing. Fresh, bedside. Some fresh guacamole on the side ready for some warm toast. A nice hot cup of local coffee to sip on for comfort. It’s then I would rise from bed. I’d remove the covers to take on the day.

I’m still hungry. 

It was all just a dream. I woke up hungry and I don’t have a butler. My brain definitely played a trick on me today:

Time to feed this old belly of mine. For real this time.

hustle, mental health

Balls Dropping

The first mistake was a little puzzling. An email I missed. I read it, then forgot about it. The day the task needed completion, my colleague reached out to me to see when she could pick up her request.

A shock went through my body. Suddenly a very full day had a complicated work task dropped in the middle of it. I pushed through and completed it satisfactorily, but maybe not as thoroughly as I would have otherwise.

A couple of days later, my boss emails me to ask if I had made the classroom signs she requested.

The same shock and disbelief followed. Really? I totally forgot a work task again, and this time for my boss?

I won’t bore you with the details…suffice it to say I dropped ball after ball after ball this month. There were loads of things I honestly just forgot. To the point where I was concerned about myself. This is pretty uncharacteristic of me…sure, I may procrastinate at times, but to completely forget again and again?

This leads to the question…what caused this? Could it be menopause? General aging? Stress? Lack of sleep? Loss of focus due to the wearing on of the pandemic? Or maybe it is the family crisis that hit a couple of months ago. Who knows.

It really doesn’t matter. I don’t like the feeling of being incompetent. I don’t like tasks biting me in the butt out of nowhere. So much of my job is supporting others, and I feel physically ill when I let others down.

It’s just a mystery. I’m trying to just observe it, notice it, and not beat myself up over it. Easier said than done, but I am trying.

I’m back to making more lists. Slowing down when I can to read emails and take notes in meetings more carefully. Hopefully this was just a brief episode in life that blows over, and I’ll be back to my usual remembering self from now on. I’m just documenting here to share life’s ups and downs, hoping I’ll look back on this as just another bump in my road.