front porch

Mental Health During a Pandemic

“Are you happy?” My husband asks.

I pause and think and finally say, “I don’t know. I’m not sure what that looks like anymore.”

Fast forward (or rather slow forward) some months…

I sit on my front porch surrounded by dirt and pots and plants. I’m focused on creating a fairy garden because I desperately need a project. Something to distract from months of stress. Months of worry about stressed-out teens. Never-ending months of worry about work and insurance and everyone’s mental health. Anxiety has been my companion for decades, but everyone has been home and inside and the weather refuses to warm up.

So I sit and tinker. And focus on placing tiny plants in a planter.

My Mental Health Fairy Garden

I sip my wine and wipe hair away from my face with the back of my dirty gloved hand. And I realize, I’m happy. At that moment, I am, without a doubt happy.

I used to believe happiness was some sort of unattainable destination. Something someone achieved because they were lucky. Something someone achieved because they weren’t anxious and worried all the time.

I’m slowly shifting my views and I’m taking care of my mental health so I can help my slew of teenagers who are struggling to understand a world that tipped upside down and has yet to right itself.

The weather gradually warms and summer finally arrives.

I wander out to my garden to check on the state of things. My wonderful husband built me a garden box and for the first time in years, I have a garden again. I’ve been fighting the water battle all summer, so I check on my little garden often.

This morning I discover the sprinklers didn’t run and my poor plants are thirsty. I drag the hose over and begin to water my tomatoes and pepper plants and discover to my delight that my jalapeno plant has recovered and flowered. It has limped along and I honestly thought it wouldn’t produce a single pepper.

Luna sniffs around and wanders to the backyard. She plops down in the sun and watches as I continue to tinker in my garden. The sun feels good on my back.

There’s a twinge of missing as I notice my tomatoes starting to ripen. I can hear the youngest’s shouts of excitement from when he was with us last. He is absolutely enthralled with my garden. The hard part of divorce is missing our humans when they aren’t with us.

I think about Kat and how she’s found solace in running, but I can still feel her tears on my shoulder as she cried about what seems inevitable with school…online again. Worry is my companion these days, but I keep finding happiness so I can teach the kids how to find theirs.

And therapy. Therapy for everyone. And Lexapro. Can we put it in the water like they do with fluoride?

I make my way back to the front porch, my new happy place. My chime clinks in the wind making happy noises. The porch is drenched in sunshine oblivious to the pandemic and unrest in the world around us. I sit down and sip my coffee for a few minutes before I have to return to the den for my first meeting of the day.

And I sigh. And I’m happy. I’m also worried and anxious. And I miss my humans. And I hope they are ok. And I wish the world would return to normal.

Damn pandemic.

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