Mama Bearings: Cruel Summer

This year has flown by. As much as I am ready to say farewell to this summer, I do enjoy each time of year for various reasons. I love holidays, weather changes and the people, places and things related to different times of year.

I am a planner and try to be organized, which has made for some die-hard family traditions I am desperately trying to pass down to my kids. That includes completing vision boards to talk about future goals at the beginning of the year.

I love it because it focuses on the idea that something great is coming up. It’s rewarding to experience the anticipation and excitement that it brings; the sheer joy of waiting for that good thing.

I also decorate and we attend a spooky Valentines’ Day event every year, and everyone gets gifts because it is a candy holiday. Candy holidays are sacred and include Valentines’ Day, Halloween, Easter and anytime Reese’s makes themed peanut butter cups.

When school ends and summer begins, we stay up later and go to the beach and try to do more things outside, and once October Eve hits — yes, I am referring to September, I am in full pumpkin spice horror movie watching manic glee. You get the picture.

Although we don’t truly have fall or autumn in Florida we sure try. Anyone notice the short shorts with knee high boots already starting up? I cannot do all that with these heat advisories, but I appreciate the efforts.

I was ready for fall this year because summer was one of the hardest times I have had with my depression. I have both anxiety and depression as diagnoses, but I was dealing with so much that every day was a bad day. I can only explain this time as the opposite of my usual demeanor: instead of looking forward to things, I was unhappy with so many things in my life that my brain shifted into a negative mindset that permeated everything I did.

I can only speak to my experience, and each person who struggles to be mentally well has their own story, but I know so many people in the LGBTQ+ community who are struggling this year. Gender affirming healthcare was outlawed in some ways and people are having issues getting to their health care providers and receiving their prescribed medications.

Bathroom laws have some people afraid to go out in public or use a restroom that aligns with their gender identity. Teachers have dealt with book bans, the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” rhetoric and having to hide their own authentic identities at work — and our beautiful drag performers have even been targeted and lost income due to legislative changes.

More and more I see posts on social media about losing people to suicide or mental health-related issues like drugs and alcohol misuse. People are unwell. But when I was deeply unwell, I did not write a column about it because I simply could not share or even describe how badly I was doing.

I am better now, and I can see the brighter side of things, which I see value in sharing because I know so many of us are going through hard times. So much of my anxiety this summer was related to these new laws and how my transgender son would be affected. During those darker times, I was constantly fearful, ashamed of being fearful and just exhausted from the effort of all my worrying. This is a cycle I have known most of my adult life.

I did not get a magical cure for my depression this summer. I have three kids living with me still and when I was recently asked in a job interview what gets me out of bed in the morning, I immediately replied, “my kids, my family.”

I had been interviewing nonstop for six months and had not been asked that question once. That moment stayed with me after the interview concluded because I had been dwelling on what made me unhappy so intensely that I was not asking myself what makes me happy. What gives me purpose. What I wanted to be doing as opposed to what I was not doing. Not a shift to toxic positivity but a focus on my needs and wants related to who I am authentically.

Another thing that helped this summer is I became more active in my local PFLAG chapter. Attending in-person meetings with my kids, getting to know members in more depth and getting legitimate answers to all the scary questions regarding the new laws gave me the feelings of support in dealing with my fears that I needed and deserved.

There is something so special about understanding a situation or a problem because you have experienced it personally, and being around individuals who have shared experiences helped greatly. By the time school started I felt more informed and less vulnerable which reduced my anxiety.

To this date, my son has had his best back-to-school yet this year. Amidst all this, he is the happiest he has ever been. Just like the changing seasons and passing days, things will most certainly change, but today, I am going to believe they will continue to change for the better.

I am going to choose to be hopeful, and on the days that I cannot find that hope I am going to ask myself what got me out of the bed that morning.

Sylvie Trevena is a proud mom of four with eclectic interests who holds a BS in Behavioral Healthcare and an MBA.

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