A few months ago, a group of co-workers and I got together for some one's birthday outside of work. A pretty small thing, considering that hundreds of people probably do it on any given day...but it was revolutionary for us. We talked, laughed, drank margaritas, and had such a good time that I made the executive decision that we would have a monthly Mental Health Professionals Mental Health Day, otherwise known as the MHPMHD.
Most people don't realize this, but therapists are people too. The work we do is very important, but we are severely underpaid, overworked, and under-appreciated. Hearing stories of abuse, terror, pain, misery, and just humans being the very worst they can really wears on a person. Hence, the importance of caring for one's self. Most mental health agencies will not do it for you. They want to wring every last drop out work out of you they can and then will still tell you that you are not doing enough. It is disheartening. Much like parenting, in fact.
Right now Charlie is in the midst of a knock down, drag out fit. She is pissed at me because I am making her play with her toys. (Call Children's Services, y'all. I am so abusive.) Not only do I have a toddler to contend with, I have a teenager as well. Teenagers are really more like toddlers than they are adults, but they have more words and really aren't quite as portable. Then I have the 6 year old who is totally focused on rules and all of the perceived injustices that are wrought upon her at the hands of others. Shit gets crazy all up in here, yo.
Most days I am perfectly content to stay at home and referee. Most days I don't mind the crazy that is both my house and my job. I thrive on it, in fact. I chose this and I love it.
But...I need a break. I need to see my coworkers outside of work where we can laugh and let loose. I need to NOT be with my family for a few hours. I need it for my sanity. I am crazy enough on my own; I certainly don't need their help.
It has gotten to the point now where every once in a while, I can feel the depression starting to creep in. Like an ominous storm cloud encroaching, it slowly sneaks up with the intention of wreaking havoc on my mood and my ability to cope. This tells me it is time to engage in some self care (mind out of the gutter, pervs!) and to remove myself. To go and do something for me.
Does it always work? No. Sometimes the depression stays. Sometimes the storm does not blow over, and it stays and is destructive to my soul and mind and it sucks monkey balls. Sometimes the storm is able to blow over, like all those times when the hypervigilant peeps at the National Weather Service tell you there is a tornado coming and issue a warning and then are all like, "Oh! Just kidding! My bad!" But you still have hunkered down and prepared yourself because you just never know. Maybe this is the time that the golf ball sized hail will materialize and destroy your carefully cultivated garden and dent your vehicle and leave you with a huge mess to clean up.
The MHPMHD is designed to be the basement, the storm lanterns, the battery powered radio in the storm. Sometimes it materializes, sometimes it does not. Sometimes there is clean up, sometimes not. It is preventative. Hell, if I thought it would fly with the IRS, I would totally deduct whatever amount I spend on those days as a job or a medical expense.
Necessary for my mental health, and for yours too. In fact, I am going to challenge all of my 7 readers to do this. Once a month, to take a few hours out of a day and do something for yourself. It can be getting together with friends and having lunch; going for a serene walk by yourself, or going window shopping with your mother. Just something. Slow it down, and care for your mental health. Care for your soul. See what a difference it makes.