Thursday, September 11, 2014

A look In The Mirror

Conversation from a group of girls in a middle school bathroom overheard by my daughter:
"I am getting fat"
"Yeah, you are." 
"I'm not going to eat lunch today."  
"We aren't eating lunch anymore either."  
According to my daughter these girls were very thin, all the girls, even the one who was "getting fat."

Conversation from a group of mothers in a pizza place overheard by myself:
"I lost 10lbs 6oz!  I'm not really eating a lot."
"I haven't eaten a pizza in 6 months." 
the talk went on from there with words like, "fat, skinny, dieting, fat, skinny, skinny." These women were also very thin.   They had small children, little girls, who were playing... and listening.

Blaming the media for a nation of skinny obsessed tweens and teens isn't totally fair.   As mothers, we are way more influential than you might think.  As Peggy O'Mara says "The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice."   Not just the way we talk to them, but the way we talk around them, and about ourselves.   It tells them what we think is important, what we value most.  They hear that skinny is a quality that must be achieved at all cost.  Even if it means a feeling of churning and growling in your stomach.  Even if it means vomitting after you failed to resist the temptation of cake.    Maybe the media poisoned our generation with images photoshopped to perfection, but we are grown ups.  We know what is real and true and we should be able to stop caring what a magazine cover says we should look like.

We cannot quickly change the message of the media, but we can in one instant change the message that our daughters get from us.  If you are feeling fat, keep your mouth shut.  I don't mean do not eat, I mean do not verbalize it.  I feel very strongly that excersize and eating healthy are important.   I discuss with my children what large amounts sugar and junk food can do to their bodies, not in terms of "you will get fat" but instead I talk about diabetes and how daily insulin shots can become a reality if you don't take care of your bodies.   The choices they make, to have that cookie, or not, shouldn't come from a fear of being fat but instead from a desire to have a healthy life and feel good.  (Also, sometimes you should eat a cookie... because they are delicious!)  I also talk to my children about how food is our fuel.  Our brains can think better when we have filled up our tank.  Skipping a meal, usually breakfast, is sometimes attempted in my house and I am quick to remind them how food is a neccesary part of living.

Another thing I did was find before and after photoshop images on the internet and looked at them with my daughter.  We talked about how drastic the changes were.  Some women you can barely recognize.  We played a game of spot-the-photoshop and it was a lot like those hidden picture puzzles in the Highlights magazine that I used to love.  It was fun, and an engaging way to show her the truth.  I encourage anyone with young girls in your life to start some positive conversations and help these girls start eating again.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

On The Sofa

I always sit in the very same spot, nestled right into the corner with a stiff pillow tucked a bit under my arm.  I think to myself that when I am better, when I have my anxiety completely under control and no longer need therapy I will subconsciously sit on a different part of the sofa.  I won’t hug the pillow so much, and that is how my therapist will know that I no longer need to see her.  I won’t even know I have done it, and then we will have a little laugh about how “it must be time” and that will be the end of it.    I secretly fear this happening, her telling me that I am fine and can move along without her.   I wonder if they can kick you out for not having enough problems?  I wonder if my hives will come back again if I stop going.  

 I considered stopping over the summer, I didn’t go for a month and I thought I was doing just fine and then when I got there and nestled into my spot it shocked me how much I had to say about so many things.   Things I must have shoved to the back of my brain for lack of time to think about them and lack of anyone to listen to them.  Not that my friends or family wouldn’t listen to them, but these are the thoughts you don’t bother everyone else with.  The tiny things that pile up and somehow linger there sinking you down just a millimeter further with every one added to the pile.  Slowly, but somehow it feels like suddenly, that one last teeny thing just pushed you under the ground and you must reach for help or you may just stay there forever thinking to yourself.  That is why I sit on the sofa, and I have noticed that my friends who also sit on sofas tend to walk a little easier, even if it’s through a bog of troubles. That rest on the sofa just gives you the energy and tools to keep walking strong.  

 I have heard the argument that I have Jesus and I should pray and not need therapy.  I want to say that I do pray, and I do have Jesus, but our creator happened to create some folks to be terrific people who care about others, who studied for a very long time on how to listen, and who most likely were born already knowing how to listen, and how to help.   These people, are a gift from our creator, to all of us who need to sit on a sofa. I am pretty sure that no matter what your life feels like, it could feel even better if you were to go to take a seat.   

So why am I blogging about this? I wasn't actually planning on it but there it is, it came out anyway. See, mental health are two words that get thrown around after a shooting or a suicide and then dismissed as something those "other" people need to take care of and deal with. The truth is that we all have minds, and we all need to do our best to keep them healthy. Just because you don't have schizophrenia doesn't mean you don't need to take care of your mind. Of course those with more serious mind conditions need more help, but I believe that if everyone took time to acknowledge those inner thoughts and deep feelings the whole world would function much better. 

If you are parenting a small person then you for sure could use a mental health checkup. Imagine if your boss told you that you had to work or be on call 24/7/365. Well, you wouldn't take the job, but assuming you did take the job, there is a very good chance that you would demand some mental health care to go with it. Take care of yourselves parents, and don't think that if you go to therapy you are going to get labeled "crazy." You are going to feel healthy! I think that is why this came out. Telling people that I go to therapy might make it easier for them to go. So, if you go, tell your friends. Lets make it normal! Let's cozy up on sofas and get up healthier.