It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to write for myself. I’ve been at my computer PLENTY, but for many other reasons. All great ones, I promise.
First and foremost, Happy New Year, a month late! I thought I would kick off this year (a little late) by updating you on last year’s New Year’s resolution. Remember, that was the one when I was going to be more “present”? When I was going to start my days meditating with my Headspace app? And even when my children were all screaming at me at once, I would take a step back, and just be happy that they are a part of my life?
I am that person that Headspace relies on to make their money. I can honestly say that I ended 2019 less present than the year before. Between my 3-year-old entering a relentless phase, my tween developing an attitude and taking on some additional work, there was little “presence” left. I decided not to make a resolution this year.
I was reading an article just after the new year and learned that for the third straight year in America, life expectancy has decreased. After so many years of technology and medicine effectively lengthening our lives, our lives are starting to shorten. The top three reasons are of no surprise: drug overdoses, liver disease (mostly from obesity and alcoholism), and suicide. What REALLY got to me was that each of these are related, in one way or another, to our state of mental health. This saddened me to the core.
The thought of raising four children in today’s world frightens me, to say the least. I’m not talking about the fear of child abductors or cancer-causing agents. I’m strictly talking about this generation’s mental health. Our teens are more anxious and depressed than ever before. There are so many reasons for this, with technology standing out above the crowd. As the mental health “stigma” begins to fade and resources become more available, the feeling of helplessness remains.
I fell into a “dark place” about 15 years ago and for a short time, couldn’t see out. It took me having an absolute meltdown in my sister’s kitchen and her saying “Al, you need to go to the doctor!” before I got help. I’m happy to say that with help, I snapped right out of it. I always tell people, the great thing about hitting a low is that you know if it ever happens again, you DO have the strength to get out.
Back to life expectancy. When I read that statistic, I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution. I made a personal commitment to do everything in my power to stay emotionally well for my children, family and friends. To do simple things like eating well, exercising, and getting fresh air. To talk to someone if I’m struggling. To get professional help if I ever find myself slipping. And most importantly, to always surround myself with lots of friends and loved ones.
Coincidentally I stumbled upon a book which led me to adopt a new mantra: “Everything Is Figureoutable” (Marie Forleo’s book I mentioned in my last IG post). I’ve been saying this to the boys daily, or whenever I sense anxiousness. I NEED them to know that no matter what the struggle may be, you can get through this. We can get through this. We may not be able to FIX everything, but we sure can shift perspectives.
Just this week, I read that there was a bump in life expectancy and in the first time in four years, the number is now going up again. There’s hope. People are getting the help they need and watching out for each other. Let’s all work together in turning this number around. It’s not too late. There’s a way out, and there is always someone there to help. Your friends and families need the gifts that you offer this world. Or as Marie says…
We can ALWAYS figure it out.