Fat Fridays: Mental Health Check In

Happy Friday everyone. 

It’s 8:45am and I’ve already had a busy morning. Made homemade muffins for the kids for breakfast. I’ve got a big batch of yeast bread started, sitting in a bowl on the mantel to rise. Walked around picking up all the winter clothing that was left on the floor yesterday after we had a small batch of snow (only happens a couple times a year for us). Lit all the candles in the house in an attempt to chase off the gloom from this cold gray morning. I’ve cleaned up several messes from my son’s puppy that we are babysitting during the day while he’s at work. And also let my cats in and out the door about 5,000 times. 

And I’ve been trying really hard to not be snappy at my kids. This is their second snow day home and in my current mood, I’ve found it challenging to have to deal with arguments, fussing, and just a bunch of energetic kids bouncing around the house. (Stop throwing playing cards at my candles, No, we are NOT playing basketball in the house, yes, we ARE going to clean your room, No, we are NOT going to do a science experiment that involves setting paper on fire.) 

I am struggling a lot with depression and irritability. I’ve been working on getting back to healthy eating, cutting out sugar and processed foods again, and my body is in shock and not happy as it is deprived of all it’s junk again. I know I’m making progress, I’m starting to crave healthy food again and I haven’t had a hard time staying away from the bad suff, but it always puts me in a bad mood when I come off sugar and junk. I have a feeling a lot of that is just physical things happening in my body. 

I’m coming off the High of the Holidays and feeling a predictable blah-ness from resuming normal life again. 

The last two years have been pretty traumatic and so I find myself facing this new year with a lot of hesitancy. What craziness is going to happen this year? 

We’ve got an upcoming court date for our foster daughter and I’m having to face a lot of inner-demons as I resolve to make my voice heard instead of staying quiet. 

I imagine everyone has a list of reasons for why their mental health is not doing so great right now. 

What am I doing about it? 

Well, I’ve been really focused on keeping my home in a constant state of tidiness and order and coziness. It is calming to me to sit in a clean room with candles lit and some pretty things to look at. I tend to be very comfortable with clutter and chaos, but lately I’ve been going the opposite direction and needing everything orderly and in its place. 

I’ve gotten back into daily Bible reading. I have a 12 month Read the BIble in Year. Each day has a date and a passage from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. I have decided to start in the month of December and work my way backwards, cause that just feels more doable for me. I am finding this reading time to be a time of calm and peace. 

I am working hard on getting our whole family eating healthy again, and one of the things I’m focusing on is baking our own whole-grain bread again. I used to do this a lot, years ago, and then stopped. I find that I need to bake about every two days in order to keep up with the kids. There is something very soothing about making bread. It makes me feel grounded and connected to the earth. Weird? I don’t know. I just know that I am enjoying it and find it soothing. 

The last thing is I am trying to keep life as simple as possible. I’ve had to hit pause on keeping up with community events and concerns, what’s happening in our country, and just focus in on my home. 

And even doing all that, it’s still been a struggle. But, I’m hopeful. My body is going to adjust to the healthier diet again, we’ll get past our court date, spring will come again. Life keeps moving. We just have to take it one day at a time. 

Sometimes Life is not Fun

Back in October we got a new puppy. He was sweet and cuddly and we all loved him. He got along well with our other pets and seemed to love all the attention from the kids. We quickly discovered that he was deaf. Ok. Well, we can overcome that. We did some research. Started trying to teach him hand signals. 

The only problem with this puppy was that he bit the kids sometimes. Well, he’s a puppy. Puppies do that. His breed is known for being nippy. We worked with the kids more about respecting his space, not bothering him when he was asleep, not teasing him in any way. 

And then he bit two of our kids really badly. Ok. Step back. Reassess. Maybe this puppy is not going to work out after all. My husband started asking around if anyone was interested in rehoming him. No takers. I didn’t want to rehome him, he saw us as his family. 

Then he started attacking anyone that came close to our yard. Not good. My kids have neighborhood friends who like to come over and play. We started having to be hyper-vigilant about the dog and anyone who wasn’t in our family. I looked up on the internet how to deal with aggressive dogs. There are a lot of good training programs out there. They all cost a lot more money than I have available. I called our vet, she said not to keep him. If he’s having this problem now, it isn’t going to get better. But, maybe we weren’t reading the situation correctly? Surely we couldn’t just give up on him? 

Then at the end of last week he bit one of my kids in the face. Completely unprovoked. I saw the whole thing. Child was innocent. Ok. What do we do???? A couple days later a relative who has spent lots of time with the puppy, in and out of our house, came to visit. The dog bolted out our door and attacked them, bit them, hurt them. 

Yesterday I called our local shelter and they said that they do have a program for aggressive dogs. We would have to surrender him and they would keep him isolated and then have a professional behavior specialist work with him until he was adoptable. I had to tell the kids and then take him to the shelter and leave him there. 

I left him in his cage and then walked out, got into my car, and sobbed my heart out. 

I hate it. 

I came home, took the kids away from the house for the day. While we were gone my husband removed the dog kennel from the hall. 

This morning the house feels empty and quiet without all his pent up energy wiggling around. My dog Todd looks sad. The kids asked to see pictures of him before they went to school. 

Sometimes life is not fun. 

Fall Nights

It’s been a good day. A day to notice little things. 

This evening I heated up some soup for my supper. On Sundays I make a big noontime meal and then the rest of the day everyone fends for themselves (Ok, we help the three year old out, but that’s about it). I try to have sandwich makings or bagels or leftovers or something simple people can snack on. Today I heated up the homemade chicken soup which is more like chicken stew, it’s so thick, and two of my girls joined me. We got out the pretty colored bowls of mismatched shapes and sizes that always cheer me up. Sat at the big wooden table my husband made. 

After eating we moved back to the living room, the center of the home in winter time. My teen was playing the part of dj, selecting music off her playlists for us while she read her book. 

Some kids were gathered around the coffee table, having an interesting debate about how to draw animals. 

Another child was sitting on the couch with the dog, also reading her book. The puppy sleeping on the floor close by. 

Another child crawled into my lap and after a couple minutes of rocking in the old chair, she was out. I sat there holding her, enjoying my domain. 

Right now life feels a little crazy. Holiday plans are getting shifted, age-long traditions are being paused. Our country still doesn’t feel stable. I try to avoid thinking about the outside world as it seems out of control and bewildering. 

And so, it feels like a gift, to be able to just sit and see my immediate space. My home. The solidness of family. To feel the peace around me. Belonging. Purpose. Mission, as we try to raise these kids to adulthood. 

As we head into Thanksgiving this week, I’ll get started with the thankfulness now. I am thankful for fall nights, in my home, with my family.