Which pandemic is worse? 

As I sit and fold face masks fresh from the laundry and prepare sanitation supplies for my sons' school bags, I can't help but to feel pangs of dread deep down in my soul. I have never been the type to be thrilled to ship my kids out the door, quite the contrary. Part of me is always unsettled when they're out in the world and potentially exposed to the ugliness it has to offer. But, this year feels...heavier. Now they'll be exposed not only to the assholes of the world, but the virus responsible for shutting down the world. 

Like most parents, we agonized over whether they should go back to school in some capacity or remain at home, exclusively.  We've been "mom and dad" long enough to have a middle-schooler and we've learned through blood, sweat, and tears that parenthood is mostly throwing the proverbial dice and praying to inflict as little trauma as possible on your progeny...and yet, we were woefully unprepared for the monumental responsibility of trying to prioritize the physical and mental health of our children. Simply put...it's impossible to rank the two as they are equally important. Sending the kids to school would potentially put them at risk physically, but keeping them home to preserve their bodies would absolutely have a negative impact on their minds. In the end, we decided to send them back into school on a hybrid plan and try to find balance as best we can. (Which, I would argue is one of life's greatest challenges.)

The entire exercise, grappling with deciding which aspect of our children's well-being was more important, has brought into laser focus just how important proper maintenance of mental health is. Coupled with my own recent experiences with debilitating anxiety, the coronavirus lock-down has precipitated my newfound concentration on mental health. To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the other silent pandemic affecting every country on this planet...the deteriorating mental health of the human race. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people will suffer from a mental health disorder during their life-time. One in FOUR. A quarter of the global population. COVID is absolutely a global health crisis, but let us not pass up this opportunity to address the hidden crisis that has been exacerbated by it.

These numbers seem bleak, but there is hope. This 1 in 4 number only captures instances or snapshots of occurrence, but does not reflect how many people recover from their run-ins with a mental health issue. So, why am I writing about all this? I want to show that many of us are struggling, but many of us are hiding it. We get so good at hiding it from other people, that we start to believe that we're OK, when clearly...we're not. I read something really profound recently, and though I can't remember who wrote it, I can't take credit for it myself. It reads, "When you're living in water, you don't know you're wet." It's one of those  statements that really transcends simplicity into the realm of philosophical. Applied to me personally, I was living with high-functioning anxiety disguised as motivation for so long that I didn't understand I was ,if I may borrow a lyric from Jason Aldean "peddle to the metal on a downhill slide." When a health issue popped up and I had to sit with my anxious thoughts instead of going my normal speed of three million miles per minute, I hit a wall. I thought it would never happen to me, but I am stronger for it.

And so, as I pack the face masks and hand sanitizer for school during a dystopian nightmare, I am sitting with my nervousness. But...I am not running from it. I am anxious as a mutha, but I'm working on being a better mother with anxiety. 

If you're struggling, reach out to someone. 

WHO Mental Health 


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