Tag Archives: mental health

Health In

This COVID-19 pandemic has taken so much from the average person – no matter where in the world they live.  Here in the U.S. we’re trapped in a nightmarish scenario with a disoriented leader heralding recent gains in the stock market, while millions remain unemployed.  I’m sure those struggling to pay utilities are thrilled to know Fortune 1000 companies are enjoying record stock prices.

One of the most severe – and underrated – effects is the impact the scourge has had on people’s psyches.  Emotional, mental and physical health always become subconscious victims of any national crisis.  People are just trying to survive.

Personally, I’m in a vortex of angst and frustration.  My freelance writing enterprise – as meager as it was – has pretty much collapsed.  I’m fortunate I have some money saved from previous work, but I know that won’t last forever.  Or even much longer.  After my mother’s death this past June, though, I began to feel sick.  Friends and relatives thought I was in a state of grief, which I was for the most part.  But I thought I’d contracted that dreaded novel coronavirus.  I had many of the symptoms.  I had hoped my seasonal allergies had started to hit me early.  Then again, perhaps it was the stress of dealing with my mother’s health.  One friend suggested I was suffering from a lack of iron and Vitamin D.  Still, I finally reconciled, it may be all of the above.  Fighting so many battles at once takes a toll on the body.  And mind.

Because of the pandemic, health clubs were among those businesses shuttered across the nation in an effort to contain the spread.  I last visited my gym in mid-May; shortly before the rehabilitation center where my mother had been staying shoved her out because her Medicare benefits had been exhausted.  (That’s another story!)

But even after my gym reopened in June, I still haven’t visited.  Again it was that awful sickness.  I didn’t know what was wrong.  I’ve taken to doing basic calisthenics and walking along an exercise trail behind my home in recent weeks in the middle of the day.  I used to go running, but I don’t have the strength right now.  Key words: right now.  Once you take off a long time without doing any kind of exercise besides laundry and loading and unloading the dishwasher, it’s a tad bit difficult to get back to normal.  But even that little bit still makes me feel good.

Seven years ago I wrote about my tendency to visit my local gym on Saturday nights, when hardly anyone was present.  I commented that only lonely fools like me did such a thing.  At the turn of the century, working out on a Saturday night was unmanageable.  But the gym I had at the time was open 24 hours.  It was a perfect time to jog on a treadmill and lift weights, I realized, with such a sparse crowd.  No one was there to be “seen”.  That quiet time – with various types of music blaring from the myriad speakers lingering overhead – allowed me to think of every aspect of my life.

I left that gym in 2017 to join another local gym that closed unexpectedly a year later.  After a lengthy hiatus, I joined my current gym last year.  This is an old-school gym with no fancy juice bars or chic workout gear.  Loud rock and rap music bounces around the concrete walls.  It boasts an outside area with non-traditional workout gear, like tractor tires and tree stumps.  Men can go shirtless.  People there sweat – they don’t perspire!  It’s not for suburban soccer moms or GQ cover models.  (No offense to soccer moms!)  I feel more than comfortable in such an environment.

I know it’s tough to take one’s mental and physical health into consideration if you’re unemployed or underemployed.  But I also know you don’t have to belong to any kind of health club to care for your own health.  Mental health experts are concerned about the severity this pandemic is having on people’s well-being.  Quarantines are literally driving people crazy.  And to drink too much alcohol and/or consume illegal drugs.  Or contemplate hurting themselves.  A bad economy helps none of that.  I can identify with all of that.  I really do feel that kind of pain.

Just walking the other day, carrying a water bottle and letting the sun emblazon my bare torso, helped me mentally.  It didn’t make everything magically disappear once I returned home.  I knew it wouldn’t.  But maintaining one’s health – as best as possible, even in the worst of times – is vital.  It can’t be overemphasized.

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No Synching

Dearest Followers:

Allow The Chief to pull his Stradivarius from behind the toilet paper and bathroom cleaning supplies and attempt whole-heartedly to extract a bit of sympathy from you.  This past Monday, October 21, I awoke feeling disoriented.  I can’t explain it exactly, but I simply felt…weird.  Yes, I realize you folks have come to expect that from me, especially since I’m a writer, and a troubled mindset is one of the drawbacks of the creative spirit.

I’ve encountered this sensation before – only once previously, though.  But, on this past Monday, it felt more intense and painful.  I kept feeling that anything and everything I did – no matter how small or mundane – wasn’t right.  I couldn’t open a door in the right way.  I couldn’t even pick up a piece of trash the right way.  I mean, EVERYTHING I did wasn’t right.

I keep thinking it might be related to my allergies.  The summer to fall transition is almost always the worst for me.  But, every few years, I have a period like now, where it hits harder than freight train striking a vehicle stuck on the tracks.  Simple over-the-counter and / or home-based remedies won’t help.  I have to visit my family doctor and get some high-caliber, prescribed medicine.  This year, he gave me three.  Feeling tired and lethargic comes with the territory.  I’ve always said my worst allergies follow the hurricane season in the Atlantic / Caribbean basin.  And, this time around, the storm was a Category 5.

I’m pretty much over all that mess now.  But…that overwhelming disoriented feeling.  Is that related to my allergies and / or the prescribed medicines?  I know some high-octane medicines have a myriad of potential side effects.  In fact, reading the list of side effects – diarrhea, fatigue, nausea – makes me wonder if they’re worth the trouble.  Let’s see, what do I prefer?  A runny nose or a runny ass?  Too many choices!  Like trying to find a book to read while eating cereal.

Then again, are my years of frequent alcohol consumption finally coming back to haunt me, like the fact I never attended a high school dance?  I consider myself a recovering alcoholic, but I still haven’t given it up permanently.  Smoking, yes, but I can’t resist a good screwdriver or wine cooler!  I just watch myself.

Perhaps, this is what life is like headed towards age 60 – meaning the seventh decade of my existence.  As a youth, I recall my parents – mainly my mother – opining that life begins at 40.  At that time, people, indeed, seemed to have reached the apex of happiness with family, career, etc.  Now, I hear that 50 is the new 40.  Medical advances have made it more likely people will live into their 80s and 90s.  Thus, 50 really is becoming middle age for many Americans.

I just don’t know.  But I feel friends and family are likely to scoff at me, if I mention aloud that I’m feeling incredibly disoriented.  ‘So, what’s new?’ they might say.  ‘Tell me something I DON’T know!’  Okay, okay!  You don’t have to rub it in, like sandpaper mistaken for…well, toilet paper.

I’m only putting this out there – to this audience, my faithful followers – because I’m not really ashamed of it.  It’s just frustrating and annoying.  Okay, it pisses me off!  It interferes with my daily activities.  I can’t even work on my creative writing.  That disoriented sensation blocks my artistic mind from producing anything.  So, I just go to sleep.

As with the last time this happened, I realized I just needed to stop trying so hard to understand it and merely take a shower and plunge into my bed with its 10-year-old mattress.  I’m curious to know, however, what you folks think.  Has this happened to you and, if so, how did you deal with it?  Remember, if you don’t take this seriously, we’ll hear about more drama from the British royal family!

Image: Gary Larson, “The Far Side”

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