My Mental Health is My Priority

Is it just me, or does the world right now seem like a pressure cooker that’s 2 minutes from exploding? My Facebook feed seems to be filled with only 2 things right now: cute videos of animals and images of violence/hatred/political vitriol/negativity. I’ll admit it: I was neck deep in a lot of that for a very long time. Every new social issue that came forward made me feel like I had to be the mouthpiece for the underdog. And I still feel the obligation pulling at me. But after nearly being swallowed up by depression over the last year or so, I finally came to a tough conclusion. My mental health is my priority and my primary obligation.

It’s very easy to think that the world is at the brink of destruction. Every day there’s a new video of a police shooting. Every day there are more stories (and now videos) of people overdosing. Every day more stories and posts about unrest and violence across the globe. It certainly *seems* like the world is more violent than it’s ever been. Except that the statistics don’t back that up. And neither does history. The world, and the people in it, are much the same as they always have been. Mostly good, some bad, but the bad ones always get more press. And now that we have a 24 hour news cycle, that bad press is in our faces non-stop. And with our addiction to social media, that means every bit of that violence and negativity is a simple click away. And I think it’s poisoning us, our society and our views of one another.

I followed this presidential race as closely as I’ve followed every other until I finally recognized that my social media posts were becoming more and more bitter and negative. And in the end, I also realize there wasn’t much I could do about the outcome of this election. People are going to vote for who they’re going to vote for, and one or two or one hundred posts from me, no matter how informative, wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. In reality, who gets elected to Congress matters as much, if not more, than who’s in the White House anyway. And our country has had awful leadership before and we’ve survived. I see people in a panic daily about what they’re going to do, where they’re going to go if A or B gets elected. You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to keep on keeping on. We’re going to get up and go to work and get a paycheck. We’re going to tend to our families. We’re going to get sick and get well. We’re going to get married, have babies, go on vacations, and do all the other things we do every day. Because that’s how life works. One man or woman sitting in an office in Washington has a lot less power over how good my life is than I do. And I’m not willing to keep giving that power over to politicians and criminals and the media. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN MENTAL HEALTH AND HAPPINESS. No one else is.


There’s a lot of money to be made in keeping people fearful and anxious. It keeps people watching the news and buying magazines and buying things to fix the existential hole they have inside. It keeps people obsessed with fitness and weight loss and aging – they’re afraid of getting old/fat/ugly/whatever. Fear keeps people from getting to know their neighbors. It keeps them buying guns and keeps them right where they are, mired in their fear and distrust. And it makes them feel miserable and helpless because they don’t see any way out of it. Then there’s the siren call of the social media notification going off every five minutes, letting you know that someone’s posted something that you just have to check immediately, because you just have to stay informed. You MUST be an informed, plugged in individual otherwise you’re part of the problem.

Well, I’m calling bullshit on that. On all of it. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of being anxious. I’m tired of feeling bitter and angry every day at what I’m seeing in the media and on social media. And you know what? I am informed. I’m well-educated. I know the evils of the world quite well. But I’m not under any obligation to sit, day after day and watch the world burn. I’m just not. My only obligation is to my own mental health and happiness. My own sanity is my concern. I’m not burying my head in the sand and pretending that we don’t need serious reforms. I just have finally realized that sitting and looking at a tiny screen full of violence and hatred all day, every day isn’t going to make change happen. And what’s worse – it’s tearing people apart. And soaking all of that in just makes me unhappy. So I’m choosing to tune out most of it. I’m choosing to scroll past the political poison¬†being shot back and forth. I’m scrolling past videos of people bleeding and dying. Because I can’t take any more of it and it’s affecting my health. It’s made me depressed and anxious and I’m tired of feeling that way. And for me, the only way through it is action. I’ll take action to make the changes that need to be made. And I’ll do my best to put more love and peace into the world. And I’ll work on quieting my own mind and bringing peace to my own life so that I am able to share that with my family and my friends and on some level, the world. I can’t help anyone if I’m so crippled by depression that I can’t leave the house.

So from here on out, my first obligation is myself and my health. And if that means that I have less social media and more actual socializing in my life, then that’s a win/win in my book.

Peace and love,

Mama Bear

dad obit photo cropped

I’ve Figured Out What “Bittersweet” Means

I haven’t written in awhile. Things have been going well – incredibly busy – but going really well.

Except that I think I’ve finally figured out the meaning of “bittersweet”.

I watched my son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law practice their wedding ceremony last night, and was so proud and happy I could hardly contain it, but underneath it all was that feeling that I just wished Dad could be here to see it all. I know exactly how it would play out.

He’d sit quietly watching everything, whispering something funny to me under his breath when it looked like I might be getting ready to cry. Daddy¬†wasn’t a great one for handling me being emotional, but he always had a way of making me smile or laugh when I needed it most. He’d probably make some comment about how Sean had caught himself a looker because I know without a doubt he’d love Taylor, but wouldn’t have known how to tell her, so he’d just talk about how pretty she is. He wouldn’t be able to tell her that he’d seen Sean in a whole new way by looking at him as Taylor’s husband, or that he’d seen such beautiful changes in him because of their time together. But he’d see it. He’d know exactly what I’m going through and what I’m feeling and how I’m wondering where in the hell the time went because I still remember OUR wedding day when our baby boy was there with us and I swear it was just yesterday. Wasn’t it?

When he got into the beer a little, he’d get sentimental and talk about my wedding and how lucky Gef and I are. He’d get mushy about his grandkids and how proud he is of them. He’d request a George Jones song and ask me to dance with him and tell me the story I’ve heard 1,000 times already about how much I loved “Loving You Could Never Be Better” when I was a little girl and how we’d sing it together. And he’d make me cry but I’d hide it and we’d just chuckle together at how silly it all is that time flies the way that it does. He’d sit with my uncles and my cousins and make corny jokes and then we’d all do the Benny Hill pose together for one goofball wedding picture because there’s no way all the Porters could get together without making it goofy for just a minute.

And once all the hubbub died down and all the joking was done, he’d probably take Sean aside and tell him how proud he is of him and how proud he was from the moment Sean was born that everybody said that they looked like. He might give him advice on marriage, which would probably just be a bit of self-deprecating humor that would turn into something serious. And he’d get choked up and have to end it before he got too emotional. And I’d stand there and look at two of the men I love most in all the world and probably have to walk away for just a minute and cry at how damn lucky I am.

Instead, I will see my dad in my uncles and my cousins and all their corny jokes and stories. I will look at Sean’s face and see Daddy in that little pug nose and big smile. And I’ll know that somewhere, Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa and George and Mom are all looking down and smiling on these two beautiful kids and wishing them a lifetime of happiness together. And maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of him in a cloud or a song or the look on someone’s face when they’re dancing and celebrating these two beautiful people coming together in marriage. I hope so. Because not having him daily is hard enough, but not having him at these milestones is…well, it’s bittersweet. I don’t know any other word for it.

But I know just how he’d feel and what he’d say and it makes me smile. Because I know he’d be just as proud and as happy and as hopeful as I am.

I love you, Daddy. And wow, you’d really love Taylor. I wish you’d gotten to meet her.

I’ll see you on Sunday.