How are you?
No, but … how are YOU really?
How are you sleeping?
How are you working?
How are you eating?
How are you getting through those bad days?
How are you celebrating the good ones?
How are you surviving?
How is your body feeling?
How are you reaching out?
How are you having fun?
How are you making moments count?
How are you living your best life right now?
How are you REALLY doing?
If you responded with the thought of “fine” to any of these questions, start over.
May is mental health awareness month, so it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how you are actually doing with life. No one is “fine”. This is a dirty word we just don’t use in my house. You might be surprised at how many times you or your family may use this word as a crutch once you make it a rule not to. Go on, see for yourself and give it a go.
Instead of saying I’m fine or I’m ok, I can answer with…I’m happy & calm. I am in love with my life! I am getting healthier, both mentally & physically. I’m proud of that. I’m grateful for that.
This is all true. It’s also true that I have had an anxiety attack in the last 3 days. I have been sick for over 2 weeks, disappointed, irritated, scared, exhausted and sore as well. Life isn’t EVER going to be perfect, and your emotions aren’t either. There’s no need to be “fine” with any of it. How you react to the things happening around you is what matters.
We spent Memorial Day weekend in Homer, Alaska. A bit of a family tradition for us at this point. Homer is my absolute happy place. The mountains and ocean meet, one holding up the other. There’s usually some rain, wind and modest sunshine. I love just sitting by the campfire with friends and looking out at all of that magnificent beauty. This place offers for me a sense of calm and acceptance I have yet to find anywhere else.
Camping is also a great way to get down to earth (literally) and clear your mind. It’s a mental detox with fresh air as the main course.
Sometimes, when you are down on the earth, sleeping in a tent & dreaming of the s’mores you had earlier while just drowning out your worries… the earth moves! Yeah it sure does, at a 5.8 level quake about 61 miles away from my head. I woke up Simon and he assured me “it’s ok” without even opening his eyes, and I believe him. Sort of. I mean we’ll probably all die in a tsunami soon is what I am thinking, but its fine right? It’s “fine”.
I try to go back to sleep and then suddenly the whole place is on fire…. ok, so it’s actually car headlights shining into my tent. There is no fire, but it scared me all the same.
The night went on and on like this for me and at about 5am I woke up with a familiar tightness in my chest. Here I am in my happy place and I am having an anxiety attack. I can’t breathe. I’m sweating, I’m shaky and I’m honestly so used to these at this point in my life I just put my shoes on quickly and roll out of the tent. I bring myself to the water and eventually catch my breath. My chest hurts. I feel frustrated with all of it.
Unable to sleep because of the 165,432 other things that just might definitely happen inside of my head….I turn on the car radio and just sit there looking out at the water. Tom petty sings and I watch the sun peek through the clouds. I spot eagles soaring through the sky. I wonder how their night went. Then I realize my chest doesn’t hurt anymore. I realize I don’t even remember what I was so worried about. I feel pretty comfortable. I am alright, and it’s a good feeling.
Mental health is a process, a journey. It’s about the methods you take to care for yourself. That looks different for everyone. For some it’s cleaning up your environment, letting some people go around you. For others, it’s a consistent process of calming the hell down (me), and sometimes it’s about just getting through the night.
However you are doing it, however you are feeling this month, I am so happy you are here.